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 Clive Thompson, a specialist in many areas of business development and growth management.
Why did you choose to become a mentor?
I used a mentor when I ran our businesses. His experience greatly helped my business performance and as a result I have always wanted to use my experience to help others. I also know the loneliness of running a business and the benefit of having an unbiased mentor to bounce ideas off and sometimes to just let off steam!
How do you make a real difference to Lancashire businesses?
Being a Lancastrian, I remain passionate about the growth of innovative companies within the county. I have mentored enough businesses in the area to know how skilled we are in creating products and services to meet market demands. All I do is listen to mentees’ issues and try to assist by offering suggestions that are pertinent to the subject, often expanding on their initial ideas or introducing possible alternatives.
What is your area of expertise and why is it an important area to for business leaders to address?
I use my experience of having been a Managing Director in a Lancashire business to help companies tackle issues including survival, growth, production, people management, exporting, sale proposals, financial, marketing, product development, innovation, family succession and exit planning as well as developing personal skills. Being a Director of a company of up to 35 staff has meant I have had to cover all areas of the business.
What has been your most inspirational moment as a mentor?
I try to have inspirational moments with all my mentees! The stimulation of brainstorming is immense. One was the changing of market direction creating a 150% increase in business turnover, another was finally seeing an MD realising self-belief in his abilities. Others include the changing of payment term wording to conclude the largest sale for a company and the introduction of stock barcoding to increase production dramatically.
What are the key challenges for Lancashire businesses at the moment?
Brexit is a real challenge for some, but without doubt the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all businesses. There are similarities with the deep recessions of the past, but the swift dexterous handling of the situation is paramount to the success of any company. Management must interpret this as a challenge to remain positive in their attitude and continually think ‘outside the box’ to create development opportunities. ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’!
As a mentor, what are your three business growth tips?
1. Always have a strategy – preferably written down! Without a strategy a company will struggle to remain focused as to where the growth is going to come from and it can become rudderless. This strategy should be reviewed at least annually.
2. Identify where the growth is going to come from. Growth can be created by entering new markets, designing new innovative products or services, or sometimes cutting declining ones to introduce more profitable ones. Otherwise look at purchasing other companies.
3. Keep developing your team. Constant training in the right areas should create internal motivation to take the company forward, particularly if the right brainstorming atmosphere is created.
Clive operated his family-owned engineering businesses alongside his brother and others for over 30 years, both through good times and bad times. His firm designed and manufactured both batch and bespoke products, hydraulic cylinders and product handling systems, exporting to over 40 countries. He is now a mentor for Boost’s Growth Mentoring programme.