Sheffield Chamber of Commerce executive director and consultancy business chief Richard Wright has been named as the Sheffield-based mentor for the new Local Business Accelerators initiative.
The initiative, backed by Dragons’ Den judge, Deborah Meaden, aims to help small and growing firms by providing them with essential expertise and free advertising to promote their businesses.
The Sheffield Telegraph and regional and local newspapers across the country have pledged a total of £15 million of free advertising to the most dynamic fledgling enterprises as part of the campaign, which is being spearheaded by the voice of local media, the Newspaper Society.
Mr Wright, who ran hi-tech steel maker ATI Allvac for five years and is now the chief executive of a technology start up, in addition to being Chamber executive director, believes the advice a mentor can provide can play a crucial part in the success of dynamic fledgling enterprises.
Mentors provide an independent perspective on a business and can challenge the assumptions and projections its founders have made.
“Someone who has started a business has lived with the idea and will be wanting it to work, so they may be looking through rose tinted glasses and they may not have tested all the assumptions they have made. That is where mentoring brings advantages,” says Mr Wright.
“A mentor can ask what the customer demand is likely to be, whether there is a real market and what it will take to develop that market, what will it cost to make a product and whether the customer will be willing to pay more than the cost of manufacturing.”
Mentors can also help new companies to avoid repeating the mistakes they themselves have made.
“We all make mistakes,” says Mr Wright. “The only difference between some one who is experienced and someone who isn’t is that the experienced person will have already made the mistakes and – in the case of successful people, they won’t make those mistakes more than once.”
Local Business Accelerators is open to all businesses that are active in the local community, between one and three years old and full of potential.
Businesses may have a great idea or product, or have found a new market. They’re the kind of businesses that will create new jobs and individually they will create pride in the community.
If you run such a business, or know anyone who does, and want the chance to receive invaluable business support and advertising space with Sheffield Newspapers, visit www.accelerateme.co.uk for more information on the scheme and how to enter. Entries close November 14 2011.
Geraldine Allinson, president of the Newspaper Society, said: “The UK needs to grow local businesses like never before, and local businesses need local press.
“No other medium has the power, local knowledge and influence to activate a scheme like Local Business Accelerators. It’s where local newspapers have always made a real difference: by helping to build strong local businesses and encourage thriving communities.”