Mentoring Case Study
Posted on the 2 June 2013
Richard Farrey and Ben Hunter, founders of surveying and project management company Silverstone Building Consultancy, in Newcastle, meet Nigel Mills, chairman of the Entrepreneurs' Forum at the recent mentoring drop-in session
Richard and Ben: We started the business in 2009 and have achieved 90 per cent of the goals and objectives in our original business plan. We know we need a new plan for the next few years to grow the business with the aim of doubling turnover in five years. To do that, we've got to attract new clients.
Nigel Mills: Richard and Ben were able to establish their business with a loyal client base, which is always a great way to start. However, now they need to find new clients to build on that and take the business to the next level while also ensuring the organisation has the capacity to grow. For many entrepreneurs this 'second stage' can be challenging; you're so busy in the business that it's often difficult to work on the business.
One of the directors has to get out there, make new contacts, find the opportunities for new work and maintain regular contact with their existing clients, while the other concentrates on running the business. Alternatively, they could put together a list of potential clients to approach and divide them up.
It's typical that entrepreneurs fear losing the quality if they delegate, but another option is to find someone else to do the business development for them.
Richard and Ben: Certain sectors are growing in the North East, such as oil and gas and automotive. Whilst we already do a lot of work in those sectors we are not as well known as we would like to be. We're trying to establish how we make companies in those sectors understand what we do, and how and why they need us, because they do need us.
Nigel quizzed us about how we'd grown the business so far and congratulated us on our success. To a certain extent it's about more of the same, exploring our current networks and expanding upon them. If you want to get into new sectors you have to get out there, meet and greet, and generate leads for your PR people to work with.
Nigel focused our minds on what we already knew and placed greater emphasis on certain things. He suggested making regular, monthly contact with clients.
We also talked about structuring the business going forward and where we might look to appoint additional team members. We discussed how, as we grow, we may need to consider dividing our roles, for example, one of us having an operational role and the other focusing on managing the business.
The opportunity to pick the brains of someone like Nigel who took a small business and grew it doesn't come around very often. It was very useful and certainly provided food for thought, giving us ten points to work on back to the office.