Mid-market businesses are failing to take advantage of business mentors, despite the vast majority recognising that external advice would help their organisation succeed, according to new research from Sage.
While 93% of firms agreed that business mentoring was helpful or useful to their organisation, on average just a third (33%) actually made use of a business mentor, the research showed. By closing this 'mentoring gap', Europe's 222,628 mid-sized businesses will increase their chances of growing their turnover.
"Mid-market businesses are the engine house of European commerce," said Jayne Archbold, Head of Strategy, Sage Mid-Market. "However, in this era of unprecedented competition and change, organisations are only as strong as their people. The mid-market businesses that win will be those that grow, hire the right people and expand operations. Business mentoring can be a vital support in these tipping point moments for mid-sized businesses. Closing this mentoring gap should be a top priority for any mid-market business today."
For the poll 1,825 decision-makers in mid-market businesses were interviewed in 17 countries. Spanish businesses are the greatest users of business mentors, with 48% of businesses seeking advice, compared to just 23% of French and 18% of Polish businesses.
Personal contacts and a strong network are vital for the success of mentoring in mid-market organisations. Businesses are most likely to seek advice from people they know personally with relevant experience (21%), with external consultants (19%) and select business mentors (13%) also popular options. However, friends and family, along with government-backed advisors and governments themselves, were seen as poor sources of mentoring advice (at 3% and 2% respectively).
The age of mentors being sought by businesses varies by topic. Those looking for business and finance advice seek those with a mean age of 46, while sales and marketing advice was sought from those aged 40. Mentoring on digital and social media came from advisors with a mean age of 33.
The survey also revealed that compared to the majority of other countries, UK businesses are most likely to go to trade bodies or business organisations for advice (15% compared with 10% globally). However only 9% of UK organisations believe that business mentoring is essential to success.
Jayne Archbold added: "Mid-sized businesses are the unsung heroes of the European economy and so we should all be doing what we can to ensure their success. People are key to making this happen, and mentoring can be the fuel that drives this growth."