Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce has been matching mentors with businesses for several years through its Let’s do Mentoring scheme.
Mentoring has been even more vital to businesses since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic with many firms facing a battle to survive as the economy stalled and locked down in March.
One business who has seen an immediate benefit from their mentor matches is Roundpeg Outdoor Buildings, based in Fauld near Burton-on-Trent.
Business partners Sallyann Smith and Adam Timmis set up Roundpeg Outdoor Buildings in January 2020. Having worked together in the same industry for 15 years, they had finally realised their dream of setting up their own business to capitalise on their experience and take charge of their own destinies.
Move on two months, and Covid-19 has forced the country into lockdown and brought all but essential business to a standstill.
Add to this, the fact that as a new business with no history of paying tax, government financial support was looking highly unlikely.
Roundpeg were already involved with the Chamber as they had received help through their package for start-up businesses. In February they took possession of a new unit and were assigned Richard Carty as mentor. By the time they had got electricity into the building and their equipment set up it was mid-March. With timber due to arrive on the 24th March they were ready to make up their first orders. Lockdown was announced on the 23rd March, but fortunately the timber had been loaded and the delivery took place.
Sallyann said: “For the first two weeks of lockdown we didn’t work as we weren’t sure if we could travel and fit buildings.
“However, after this time we noticed that tradesmen were working so we decided to work locally, fitting customer buildings that could be accessed from outside. Orders grew and we were even able to pay our first month’s rent. Due to the fine weather in April, we noticed people were working on their gardens and wanted buildings.”
Sallyann and Adam had kept in touch with mentor Richard via Zoom through this period and now Richard advised them to speak to another mentor, journalist and digital communications specialist Justine Halifax, owner of Angel Media.
Justine said: “I spent some time researching Roundpeg’s presence on social media and put together an action plan to boost their online profile. The warm weather and the fact that people were confined to their homes and looking for an additional workspace at home, meant there was no time to lose.”
Sallyann added: “Justine went into a great deal of detail regarding our business. She checked the website thoroughly, checked our Facebook and Instagram pages. Her advice on what to communicate and when to do it, and through which of our channels, was extremely helpful and I went away feeling very positive and energised.”
“Home offices and working from home was an angle I hadn’t really considered. This was a totally different culture to my previous company where I did not get to make the big decisions. It made Adam and I realise that we were now in control of our destinies and we had the choice to make key decisions which could mean the difference between survival or failure.
“Almost immediately we have had interest in the home office and have taken orders which should see us through this difficult time. If we can get through our first year in such tough conditions, I am sure we can survive anything.
“I can’t thank Richard and Justine enough for their guidance, expertise and faith in us and our business.
“Hopefully, we will continue to work together. I thought I knew how to market but I clearly had a lot to learn and I now know the true value of working with experts. I certainly won’t be shy in asking for help in the future.”
Justine added: “I find mentoring extremely rewarding, especially so in lockdown when mentees such as Sallyann and Adam act on your advice immediately and it makes a real difference to their bottom line.”
If you would like to find out more about how to become a or how a mentor can help your business visit www.staffordshirechambers.co.uk/businesssupport or contact Ann Steele firstname.lastname@example.org 01782 202222