As part of promoting the valuable mentoring support delivered through Boost’s Growth Mentoring programme, we highlight some of the mentors behind the scenes that work with Lancashire businesses. So take a break for a minute and read about business mentor David Eccles, who coins himself as simply "the Middleman".
It was someone at a business support organisation in Manchester that first asked me to be a mentor. It sounded pretty cool at the time, but I also figured that I might learn something, too. I did, so when I got asked to mentor businesses in Lancashire, I thought "absolutely, why not?".
As I look at it, it's all about giving the owners time and space to work 'on' the business, rather than 'in' it. I don't think it's me directly that makes the difference – so often, the answers come from the people I’m working with. I'm there to facilitate, using my experience to shape their thoughts; based on the fact that I've been there, done a bit, got things right, and got some things wrong.
I've worked in many roles across businesses, from making the tea to being 'MD', so there's not much I've not had to deal with. I guess that's what I offer: experience. I work with companies looking to make change – whether they're bringing new products and services to market, or looking internally, at teams, systems or processes. The full mix, I guess. I also make a good brew!
It can sometimes be the simplest change that someone you're working with makes. When you talk with a business you're mentoring, and they've taken something you'd discussed forward – it doesn't matter how small that change might sound, the impact can be significant.
Like businesses anywhere, the big challenge is staying afloat in the tricky waters we find ourselves navigating. And with that as the backdrop, you have to be super agile. You need to understand the importance of knowing who you are, what you do, how you do it and who you do it for. The need for a vision, a core set of values, to know the end game and how you plan to get there. But you also need understand that things can change and the need to remain agile in order to take advantage of new opportunities, remain relevant, create growth and survive is ever more paramount.
1. Stay agile. Understand where you are now, and where you want to be, just accept the rulebook could get ripped up at any point. 2. Keep it super lean. Concentrate on your mission: don't get side-tracked by things that aren't core to the business. 3. Understand what growth means to you. Are you building a valuable proposition with a view to an exit? Is the objective global domination, or fulfilment in your work and a nice holiday every year? A development director and brand ambassador, David Eccles has over 25 years' commercial experience of working with start-up, blue chip, private and public sector organisations.