News release

Date: 9th February 2011

Volunteer business mentors recognised for supporting thousands of businesses

In difficult times business gets personal, and so do the business mentors






February 9th 2011 - Businesswoman Fiona Reeve has been named as the 2011 Business Mentor of the Year in the Yell Mentoring Works Awards, for the valuable support she regularly gives out via online business mentoring site horsesmouth. Fiona and two other deserving award winners have given advice to more than 120 UK businesses and budding entrepreneurs between them in the last 12 months alone.

horsesmouth has recently seen a 50% increase in requests for help from business volunteers, with the recession encouraging start-ups and small businesses to turn online for information, advice and mentoring. Awards judge and editor of businesszone.co.uk, Dan Martin, comments: “"Mentoring is becoming all the more important given the current government cuts and the shake-up of business support services.”

The theme of the awards “Business, its Personal” recognises that informal peer mentoring can be extremely effective in building confidence and tackling the more human side of the challenges which small businesses face.

Fiona 48, from Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire was chosen as the overall winner because of her personal approach to helping businesses. Fiona, who runs a successful training company employing 60 people, said, “The recession has really hit a lot of small business owners very hard and being in a tough situation can affect many areas of their life. My approach is to break their problems down into bite sized pieces and to ensure they go away with some positives.”

horsesmouth founder and awards judge MT Rainey adds, “Informal online mentoring offers an extremely practical response to the tough situations which many start-ups and businesses are finding themselves in right now.

“Our finalists are talented business people willing to share their expertise and help smaller businesses succeed. It’s heartening to see so many experienced CEOs, business coaches and retired professionals giving their time for free.”

Yell, the marketing solutions business, works with horsesmouth to promote and support free, safe peer-to-peer business mentoring for small businesses and start-ups. Sokratis Papafloratos is head of social products at Yell and was a judge for the awards. He commented: “As judges we were incredibly impressed with the quality of mentoring exchanges we saw from the shortlisted nominees – in terms of the timeliness of their support and the diversity of the problems they were addressing. At Yell we understand that small business owners face a myriad of challenges during the early days of their business and the personal advice they can get from a mentor who has been through that process is extremely valuable.”

There were eight award finalists and well as overall winner Fiona, who wins an iPad, there were two further winners who receive £500 each. All three winners were praised by the judges for the quantity and quality of practical advice they offer their mentees:

• Overall Winner: Fiona Reeve, 48, is well known by friends, family, work colleagues and employees for her ability to listen to their problems; her approach to listening and advising leaves them feeling happier and more positive. Fiona has used these skills to mentor many people on horsesmouth in the last three years. She recently advised a single mother with twin boys on how to boost her confidence and take first steps to setting up a new business. She has also been approached by several graduates keen to escape unemployment by setting up a venture but who don’t know where to start.

• Winner: Anthony Fuller, 53, from Beverley, Yorkshire, is retired from business, having previously been a police officer, an MD of a national IFA company and director of a major professional football club. He is now qualified to teach literacy and communication to adults. He was praised by judges for his ability to signpost to useful resources and for giving realistic and forthright advice.

• Winner: Jason Stockwood, who is just 40 and from London regularly helps people who come looking for advice on setting up or growing a business - despite his own work commitments as a CEO of successful internet business simplybusiness.co.uk, and as a non-executive director. Via horsesmouth he has helped more than 40 people in the last 12 months.

As a champion of local business Yell is calling for more people to join the horsesmouth community to share their expertise and support the growing number of entrepreneurs and start-ups who visit the site for valuable business advice with that all important personal focus. Yell also encourages its own people to volunteer via horsesmouth and share their own personal and professional expertise.

In 2010 more than 15,000 requests for advice were answered by volunteer business mentors on horsesmouth .

Today horsesmouth and Yell is asking people to share via Twitter the best piece of advice they’ve ever been given by a business mentor – using the #bizmentors hash tag. The best submissions will be shared on horsesmouth.co.uk

The Yell Mentoring Works Awards Judges were MT Rainey, founder of horsesmouth, Sokratis Papafloratos, head of social products at Yell and co-founder of trustedplaces.com and Dan Martin, editor of businesszone.co.uk. Dan concludes, "Company owners who get advice from someone who has been there, done it and bought the entrepreneurial t-shirt have an advantage over those who don't - so long may such excellent mentoring as that given by the competition winners continue."

Ends

www.horsesmouth.co.uk. @horsesmouth

Spokespeople from Yell and horsesmouth and horsesmouth mentors are available for interview. For further information contact hannahcbourne[at]gmail[dot]com or call Hannah on 0776 427 5976.
www.twitter.com/hannahbourne


Video clips of winner Jason Stockwood and all the judges can be viewed on Vimeo

Notes to editors

About horsesmouth.co.uk the world’s first ‘pro-social’ networking site is purpose-built for online mentoring on a wide range of topics including business and enterprise, education, careers, health and family relationships and is free and available to anyone over the age of 16. The site is professionally hosted, managed and moderated and all profiles, stories and weblinks are approved before posting. The horsesmouth community now has about 25000 members and has had over a million visitors.

horsesmouth is a Social Enterprise and was founded in 2008 by advertising entrepreneur and prominent media industry figure MT (Mary Teresa) Rainey, who co-founded the top five advertising agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. She is also Chair of fast-growing digital agency Th_nk and Vice Chair of Skillset.

Horsesmouth generates revenue from hosting partnerships with third and private sector organisations such as the National Apprenticeship Service, yell.com, Department for Business and Innovation, Department of Health, Channel 4 and O2.
Business it’s personal theme: New business owners are increasingly looking for support to overcome the practical barriers to running their own companies. Horsesmouth estimates that one in three of business requests now have a personal context that conventional business support services are not equipped to deal with.

About Yell
Yell offers quality business leads and marketing solutions to small and medium sized enterprises in the UK, US, Spain and some countries in Latin America through an integrated portfolio of simple-to-use, cost effective advertising. Our products are available through printed, online, telephone and mobile based media. Yell’s principal brands include: in the United Kingdom - Yellow Pages, Yell.com and 118 24 7; in the United States - Yellowbook and Yellowbook.com; and in Spain - Paginas Amarillas and PaginasAmarillas.es.

Yell's online image library, containing product shots and logos can be found at: http://www.yellgroup.com/images


http://www.yellgroup.com


Twitter: @YellPressOffice

For further information contact:
hannahcbourne[at]gmail[dot]com
or call Hannah on 0776 427 5976. www. twitter.com/hannahbourne

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