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Skipton and Ripon Enterprise Group offers free mentoring to businesses
9:00am Sunday 13th January 2013 in News
North Yorkshire has a proud business history. In Craven, the entrepreneurial spirit is clear from the high number of start-ups and small to medium businesses.
And now a group of successful business and professional people are urging businesses to take advantage of a free mentoring service.
The Skipton and Ripon Enterprise Group (SREG) was set up in 2010 with the aim of keeping Yorkshire’s enterprise culture alive.
It provides a network of experienced entrepreneurs and dedicated business people who offer free support and mentoring to local businesses of all sizes.
It is run by a small steering group which includes Silver Cross chairman Alan Halsall, Skipton Building Society group commercial director Alex Robinson, entrepreneur and owner of Broughton Business Park Roger Tempest and PR and communications consultant Sarah Hardy.
Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith is the group’s honorary president.
SREG chief executive Andy Barton said: “There was a small group of us who came together and recognised that we have a lot of successful independent businesses in the area.
“We wanted to do something to support this and ensure the economic well-being of the constituency.
“So we decided to provide mentoring support for businesses within the area, not by business support agencies but by real business people. People who have been singularly successful at what they do. And we have a wealth of them here.”
He added: “We’re keen to offer support that individual businesses need, and we can be quite adaptable.
“The role is very much between the business person and their mentor. It’s up to them to decide the sort of relationship they need.”
As well as practical and useful advice, mentors can also act as a second pair of eyes.
It’s not uncommon for people intimately involved in their own business to have certain blindspots or never have anyone offering constructive criticism. An outsider can ask those awkward questions and make observations that perhaps employees sometimes can’t.
Mentors can also be someone to bounce ideas off or just chat through issues.
The mentoring service is open to all businesses in the constituency, from large, well established firms to those just taking the first tentative steps on the ladder.
One company which has taken advantage of SREG’s mentoring service is Skipton-based Northern Paper Board.
It employs 17 people and has evolved from a packaging merchant into a leading manufacturer and stockist of solid board boxes for the food processing industry.
Its turnover in the past four years has grown from £5.4m to an estimated £10m, and the company is currently undertaking a £2.4m investment programme at its six-acre site in Engine Shed Lane.
Northern Paper Board began using SREG mentors in 2011, seeking help to drive future growth, as well as manage daily business demands.
Managing director John Curran said: “The key asset we have gained from SREG mentoring is that our perceptions of running a small business have been positively challenged – and changed for the better.
“We can now look at the business more strategically and we can see that this inspirational approach will pay dividends for the company during the most important period of investment, expansion and diversification in our entire history.”
For more details about SREG and the mentoring service, visit skiptonand riponenterprisegroup.co.uk