By Claire West

A national mentoring scheme to help start-ups and growing businesses to flourish must be business-led with backing from the banking industry, states a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

On average, around two-thirds of all start-ups will fail in their first year, the new report entitled: ‘Vision for a national mentoring scheme — connecting business owners with business mentors’ says.

Approximately £10-12 billion pounds is spent on Government funded business support per year, with only five per cent of that going to micro businesses even though they account for 95 per cent of all businesses in the UK.

The FSB believes that business mentoring should be business-led not Government-led and the key recommendations of the report are:

• To create a National Mentoring Service through the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs to match mentors with businesses at all stages of the business life cycle.
• For banks to donate investment into a mentoring scheme to start to rebuild the relationships between small business and banking institutions.
• For mentors to have the capacity to step away from that mentoring role and move into discussions that involve potential investment into the business.
• For businesses to provide constructive online feedback on the quality of the mentoring that they have been given in terms of positive and negative comments. An example of this model can be seen on the eBay website.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“There are already volunteer mentors working in local communities who would value being recognised for their work. Small business management is complex and require competent advisors who have had experience in running a successful business. We fully believe that supporting business owners will translate into action the skills appropriate for the business they are running.

“It is very important too that if a start-up is receiving mentoring from an established business that it is recognised by the banks and taken into consideration if approached for a loan or overdraft.”