A new Stuff article is stressing the importance of mentoring for business growth, while NZTE announces additional funding possibilities through RBP. ‘Mentoring scheme invaluable for SMEs in challenging Covid-19 landscape’ first appeared on the Stuff website.
Two Kiwi businesses are encouraging other small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to take advantage of The Regional Business Partners (RBP) scheme.
More support is rolling out for SMEs from the Covid Response and Recovery Fund, to help businesses adapt and innovate to deal with the impact of the virus.
The Economic Development and Small Business Ministers announced a further $40 million for the RBP Network on Tuesday, on top of $15 million invested since March.
The RBP offers eligible businesses help with HR, health and wellbeing, business continuity, cashflow and finance management, strategy and digital capability.
More than 6200 businesses have benefited from free advice. Another 4600 have registered to take part. Support for firms with up to 100 staff is delivered via vouchers for professional advisory services worth up to $5000.
PracMed NZ, which specialises in first aid training and equipment, used the support during lockdown, utilising the RBP Covid voucher for about 10 weeks.
PracMed NZ general manager Steph Davies said they were tracking well prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, having incorporated the first aid training side of the business in November, which had been a major focus.
The global pandemic caused the cancellation of first aid courses and been a “complete cashflow nightmare”.
During lockdown, PracMed NZ, which employed two fulltime staff and five contractors, received weekly mentoring from Love Your Business SME coach Phil Holland. They had been so impressed they were paying to keep him involved.
“We saw value in the mentoring and have decided to keep going,” Davies said.
“It is a very positive relationship. We know he's got our best interests at heart. He really wants us to do well. Every week we take our wins, we take our pain points, we refocus on where our areas of focus need to be moving forward and where we're going to get the most value of our time.”
Having an independent set of eyes on the business at such a challenging time was critical, Davies said.
They could easily have fallen into a negative mindset from Covid-19, but Holland had helped them focus on the areas of the business they could control.
“Especially when you're a small business you've got so many hats on, you get really bogged down on the day-to-day stuff.
“He really helped us think differently about how we can engage strategic partnerships with other organisations which have panned out to be really beneficial and I think moving forward they're going to be incredible for us.”
The General café in Mount Maunganui also spoke positively about their 10-hours of business mentoring. They noticed a slow decline in trade two to three weeks prior to lockdown, then a complete cease of trading under level 4.
The General worked with business growth hub, The Icehouse, looking at survival and pivoting in the short term, then growth in the long term.
Co-owner Malika Ganley, who operates the café with partner Aaron Winter, said having somebody who wasn’t emotionally involved in the business had been vital.
“When emotions are running really high, it's always good to have someone looking purely commercially at it and just giving you a lot of advice and options and a good plan and also give you a little bit of peace of mind that you're not at it alone.”
Ganley said she would “110 per cent” recommend the mentoring service to other SMEs, who were trying to navigate their way through the challenging Covid-19 landscape.
“[They] made us forecast for everything that was going to come at certain different percentages, best-case scenarios, worst-case scenarios, the whole lot, so really look forward into what was happening.”
Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) chief executive Brett O’Riley said the $40 million support was welcome relief for SMEs trying to plot a path back to a thriving business after Covid-19.
“Financial support via the wage subsidy and small loan scheme helped businesses stay afloat, but what is going to get them back to profitability long-term is good advice and mentoring around changing the way they operate,” he said.
| NZTE Additional Support Through RBP
This follows the news that New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is deploying an additional $40 million, allocated by the Government to support SMEs as they deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding will go through the Regional Business Partner Network (RBP). The allocation is $37.25 million in vouchers for businesses to access expert advisory services and $2.75 million to scale up the network including adding additional Growth Advisors across the country.
Other specialist advisory services to support businesses respond to COVID-19 can/will be added as required.
Businesses are encouraged to read the eligibility criteria and find out more about the support at https://covid19.nzte.govt.nz/page/regional-business-partner-network.
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