Can I have a business energy contract if I work from home?
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But there a number of more formal and knowledgeable sources of advice for firms at all stages of their development.
An advisor or mentor – particularly one who has their own experience of running a company – can help you make decisions or just act as a sounding board.
Research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that survival rates among firms which use a mentor are double those of other companies after five years.
So where can you turn for help?
When you set up a business bank account or apply for a loan, you will usually be assigned a relationship manager who can offer some guidance.
Although trust in banks among the general public is rather low at the moment, they can be a useful source of assistance.
Marco Soares, a business coach and mentor from Haywards Heath, West Sussex, says: “If you’ve got a really proactive relationship manager, he may understand what’s going on in your market or he may be able to put you in touch with other advisers or fellow business owners.”
Mentorsme.co.uk is a service which helps businesses get in touch with a variety of mentoring schemes and organisations all over the country.
PRIME, the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise, is a body set up to promote self-employment among the over-50s. It offers a range of courses and mentoring sessions.
There are a number of state-backed organisations and schemes that offer business support. The Business Support Helpline can advise over the phone about the more basic aspects of setting up and running a firm, from the likes of payroll and tax to writing a business plan and seeking funding.
In England, call 0300 456 3565; the Business Wales Helpline is on 0300 060 3000, Business Gateway in Scotland is on 0845 609 6611 and Invest Northern Ireland is on 0800 181 4422.
Before you seek outside help, get an idea of what your goals are. Dan Hooper at the FSB says that a mentor can be a sounding board for you to bounce ideas off.
“Equally, they can help you identify funding channels or improve your access to markets,” he says.
It is important that both parties realise that mentoring is not a scientific process, Hooper adds.
“This is about having a support network rather than getting specific advice.”
The FSB encourages start-ups to seek advice, but Hooper says that guidance can also be important when a firm is making a difficult transition – for example changing strategy or introducing a new product or service.
“The primary function of mentoring is to see if you are going in the right direction, and to see what the impact might be of a decision you are about to make,” he adds.
Soares says that it is also important that there is a personality fit. “You are going to be discussing quite intimate matters. But getting outside help can be invaluable: it can give you a broader frame of reference to help you steer the business.
“The fact is that not enough owners have a network of people to rely on.”
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Super helpful and easy to work with
"Recommend this company in a heartbeat - Nicole Borneuf was super easy to talk to, was not pushy in the slightest, very helpful and replied with all my questions very professionally and did all she could to help. I had to deal with a few companies to sort my business energy out, all but Nicole were too pushy for my liking and I refused to follow through with them. Thank Nicole - you are a credit to your company, thank you for making the stressful energy change so easy."This review was posted by Mia Drew on the 29th of March 2017
An Extremely Competent Company
"Switch my business has not only helped my SME secure a good energy deal for the second year running but Jessica swiftly found a alternative supplier for me when I was let down on the day of switching by the new contractual provider I had chosen some 4 months previously. Being suddenly out of contract and without provider is everyone's energy nightmare. Greatest thanks."This review was posted by S McMillan on the 29th of March 2017
Helpful, friendly and we saved lots of money!
"Jessica Purnell was helpful and friendly, she made the whole process easy and simple AND we saved lots of money thanks Jess"This review was posted by Melanie Baker on the 23rd of March 2017
Quick & Easy
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