Free business support programme boosts skills of SMEs by 73 per cent

A woman in a royal blue suit jacket and white high-neck blouse listens to a female speaker with her back to the camera
Date: 10 January 2023

London, 10 January 2023: Almost three-quarters of mentee participants in Be the Business’ free business mentoring programme improved their knowledge and skills. An additional 8 per cent expect similar outcomes in the future.

The same number (73% of mentees) also gained greater confidence in their management and leadership abilities, while over half (54%) adopted new management and leadership practices as a direct result of their involvement in the programme. 60 per cent also reported positive effects on overall business performance.

As a result, 57 per cent of mentees reported productivity gains.

Bethan Thomas, co-founder of award-winning tea company HotTea Mama, turned to Be the Business Mentoring in 2021 to develop a growth plan. “[My mentor] has been extremely important to my business,” Bethan said. “Freeing me up from the day-to-day, and helping me get access to money, has allowed me to do things more quickly, efficiently and effectively than I would otherwise have done.”

Bethan attributes at least 20 per cent of this year’s anticipated £500,000 turnover directly to her involvement in the programme.

Be the Business, the small business productivity champions, has been supporting business leaders via the free Be the Business Mentoring initiative since 2018. In data collated from the most recent cohort of participants, 51 per cent of mentees gave the programme the highest possible rating for likelihood to recommend mentoring to other mentees.

The flagship support programme creates personalised one-to-one mentoring relationships, matching business leaders with a dedicated businessperson over a period of either 12 months or 12 weeks. The aim is to help business leaders improve their business and drive greater productivity.

Improving small business – 99.9% of the UK’s business population – productivity is critical to the country’s economy. Data from the ONS reveals that the average UK worker would be £5000 per year better off if the economy had continued on the pre-2008 trajectory, while Be the Business’ How Good Is Your Business Really? report found that even a modest increase in business productivity could have a huge impact, potentially an additional £130bn in GVA to the UK economy each year.

Be the Business is currently recruiting both mentees and mentors to join the programme. More information can be found at

About Be the Business

Be the Business are the small business productivity champions. We inspire behaviour change in business leaders to deliver greater productivity by convening private sector expertise, innovating impactful programmes and identifying ways to increase demand for business support.

In doing so, we aim to transform the UK economy, raise the value of businesses in our communities, safeguard jobs and improve standards of living.

We offer access to experts who can help others understand the UK's productivity puzzle; business leaders who are getting big results by doing things differently; and research focused on improving productivity.