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Ask the experts: Mentoring, brand image and customer engagement

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Our experts are on hand to answer all your queries about setting up on your own. Christopher Allen, a Start-Up Adviser at FSB Legal, tackles the latest reader questions.

Do I need a mentor?

Starting a business can be daunting, especially if you haven’t done it before. Many new business owners will seek advice or information from the internet, books or online courses.

This can be useful in the short term, but may not be a long-term solution. Before I make a business decision, I would run it past my fellow business advisors. However, not everyone will have a strong business network, so this is where a mentor can add value. 

By conducting a simple internet search, you should be able to locate mentoring services within your area. Using a mentor doesn’t mean that you cannot run a business or that you don’t have the business expertise; it simply means you may require structure and advice. Successful business owners such as Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates have mentors – so you could certainly benefit from one. 


A good mentor will be able to inspire and motivate you, provide guidance and structure, help generate new ideas and strategies, act as a sounding board, and assist with business and contingency planning. They will allow you to reflect on existing practices and behaviours, help you expand your network and build new relationships, aid you in developing personal leadership, and provide you with the confidence to make better decisions.

How can I develop a positive brand image? 

Do’s
 Adopt a ‘can-do’ attitude; clients can read your passion 
 Review competitors and keep up to date with trends, products and current affairs in your sector
 Presentation includes your office and social media
 Respond to calls, emails and requests from clients promptly
 Use a professional voicemail and an out of office message if you are unavailable
 A healthy work-life balance will bring out your best
 Attend community and local events – it can assist with promoting your business and present it in a positive light

Don’ts 
 Avoid attending meetings with clients in casual clothes 
 Avoid religion or politics on social media
 Avoid uploading offensive images or leaving negative or derogatory comments online
 Don’t make promises or appointments you cannot keep 
 Don’t leave clients/customers in the dark. If you cannot fulfil a promise, inform them and agree other arrangements
 Don’t mix business accounts and personal accounts
 Don’t prejudge a prospective client on appearance – you don’t know their financial position or company role

How can I increase customer engagement?

One of the hardest challenges is increasing customer engagement and directing people to your shop front or online platforms. The following can help:
 Write articles and blogs
  Run regular competitions, giveaways and free trials, and provide samples
 Use testimonials


 Consider providing warranties or guarantees
 Use tracking tools to identify how customers engage with your online platforms
 Use a loyalty scheme
 Use search engine optimisation
 Attend sector-specific events
 Ask friends and family to review your existing practices
 Use different mediums, such as video, photos and live chat
 Post content regularly
 Use direct marketing
 ‘Cross-sell’ and ‘upsell’
 Offer incentives such as 
free delivery
 Use paid adverts
 Have a user-friendly and welcoming online presence