Keston Technologies Services

Mentoring Program for Small Knowledge-Based Companies

Keston Technologies secured funding from AusIndustry to run a mentoring program for small knowledge-based businesses.


Project overview

Under funding from the AusIndustry Building Entrepreneurship in Small Business (BESB) program, the project delivered a series of tailored mentoring programs for small knowledge-based businesses in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. It is focused on developing entrepreneurial and business skills and expertise in a key developing sector of this regional economy and centred on small companies from across the region. The definition of ‘knowledge-based’ was taken in its widest sense, ranging from those based on technology innovations and novel software tools to those based on consulting services and professional services. The common factor underlying all of these companies lies in their knowledge base, whether wrapped-up in patented technology, copyrighted software or in the know-how of experts.

The Mentoring Program for Small Knowledge-Based Companies in the Great Southern complemented general, public training courses but took a much more focused approach with a mentoring package tailored for the specific needs of individual companies. A core emphasis in the mentoring program was the integration of financial management into strategies and plans throughout the businesses.

The original aim of the project was to implement a tailored program of 120 individual, one-to-one, mentoring sessions.  The number of participating companies targeted varied between 10 and 20, depending upon whether they opted for 12 monthly sessions or 6 sessions every other month. 

The program was designed to include:

  • Recruitment of suitable companies through a range of promotional activities. The participants would be recruited following an initial meeting with the company to identify areas requiring improvement and attention.
  • A series of tailored mentoring programs, with key objectives, activities and outcomes greed with each company.
  • Mentoring sessions, either monthly or every other month, with each of the participating companies for a period of one year with a total of at least120 mentoring sessions delivered.  Each session would be based on the tailored program designed for the company and modified as necessary over time.
  • Four quarterly meetings involving all companies on the mentoring program in order to facilitate networking and collective learning between the participants,
  • A dissemination program at the conclusion of the program to encourage a wider audience of small businesses to communicate the results of the program and disseminate to participants and other small businesses in the region with a view to adopt new practices and improve business performance.

The program was designed to focus on a range of business skills, including:

  • Project development and commercialisation.
  • Strategic and business planning.
  • Marketing, including pricing, promotion and distribution.
  • Operations.
  • Financial management.
  • ICT/e-business.
  • Export Market Development.
  • Integration of financial management into strategies and plans throughout the business.

 

 Outcomes 

The project outcomes were:

  • Improved business performance, marketing and sales, leading to higher employment and longevity of the company.
  • Increased productivity and improved operations, product quality and product development, reducing costs and improving company performance.
  • Improved financial management in the company, leading to enhanced potential for sustainability and improved access to further capital.
  • Increasing export sales or products and services.
  • Networking and clustering between companies leading to economies of scope and scale and enabling regional companies to better compete for larger contracts.
  • Building critical mass in an essential sector for the future economic development of the region.

In general, the satisfaction of the participants with the program was high, with a range of benefits and impacts experienced and participants better equipped to sustain their businesses into the future.