Mentor network to help fledgling firms

A network of business mentors is to be established to provide new firms with valuable support and advice.

The government sees mentoring as an important way of sharing both expertise and enthusiasm among the UK's entrepreneurial community.

The annual Small Business Survey for 2007/08 found that businesses which used external advice were twice as likely to have increased the size of their workforce and to be planning business growth over the next three years than those that had not used advice.

To make it easier for people to get the mentoring help they need, the government is planning a single network of some 40,000 entrepreneurs whose knowledge and skills can be tapped into by aspiring business people. The network will not only help start-ups but also growing firms and businesses seeking financial advice.

Announcing the network, Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said: "The best people to advise new entrepreneurs and existing businesses are those who have already started and run successful companies. Mentoring is a very effective way of promoting start-ups, higher productivity and growth amongst established businesses, so I am delighted to announce this new network.

"I also want to encourage more businesses to sign up and offer their support and guidance. We need as many successful mentors as possible to guide the next generation of entrepreneurs and businesses."

Mark Prisk, the Business and Enterprise Minister, added: "In the current economic climate, it has never been more important to promote an enterprise culture in the UK, and mentors play a crucial role in advising, supporting and encouraging entrepreneurs and small businesses. This new mentoring network will be invaluable for businesses all over the country."

The network should be up and running from summer 2011 and will provide a single online gateway to mentoring provision.