Mentor tells about role in fostering small to medium enterprises

Business mentor Sue Dwan.
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Business mentor Sue Dwan.

Christchurch-based business broker Sue Dwan​ has spent about 10 years supporting small and medium sized enterprises on a voluntary basis.

Dwan began her association with the Business Mentors organisation in 2007 and has worked with many businesspeople in a range of industries.

She spoke about her work with Business Mentors as it prepares for National Volunteer Week beginning on June 18.

Business Mentors is a voluntary organisation helping young entrepreneurs.
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Business Mentors is a voluntary organisation helping young entrepreneurs.

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"It's about helping people so they don't have to reinvent the wheel."

There had been a few occasions when Dwan felt people had taken on too much and the challenges were far bigger than they imagined.

"A common thing is people underestimating what's involved especially when they inherit issues if they take over a business."

Well documented systems was a key area, and more important than in the past.

"I can't control the outcome but can help clients to apply what might need to be done."

Sometimes Dwan is called upon to help businesses experiencing difficulties.

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"The owner of the business has often had a sense something is wrong for months.

"People who aren't skilled at being a business owner won't be closely monitoring what's going on when it comes to things like pricing and costs.

"They might have lots of work on but they're not paying attention to fees and margins on a daily basis.

"Well established businesses usually have it sorted but a lot of sme's don't when it comes to policies and procedures."

Dwan said she recommends small business owners buy in the expertise they need from time to time.

This included accountancy, health and safety and human relations advice. 

Dwan said she spends as much time as required and fits in with mentees, and they do with her schedule.

While it was difficult to generalise she estimated she spent about a hour a week with entrepreneurs whose ages ranged from their twenties to well past retirement age.

Dwan's own business Dwan Associates has a web site where people can find out about her experiences and the business management books she has written.

Business Mentors has about 2000 mentors around the country and has assisted 70,000 small businesses over the years. 

It is a 25-year old not for profit organisation.

It has a board of trustees comprised of well known businessmen including Sir Ralph Norris, Sir Ken Stevens, Norman Geary, Sir William Gallagher, and former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore.

 - Stuff

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