The founder of a Norwich-based sweet shop start-up recently met with one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs to discuss how to give the business a competitive edge in a digital-first world, as part of BT and Google’s new ‘Get mentored, Get growing’ campaign supporting UK SMEs to grow and thrive through mentoring.
James Martin, 46, launched Sweet Smiles of Norfolk earlier this year with the ambition of building a truly family-orientated business that would be sustainable for generations. A confectionery business specialising in creating Pick N Mix selections not usually available on the high street, Sweet Smiles started out as an ecommerce B2C business, however it now also supplies offline at events with a pop up sweet shop and has started supplying trade and retail businesses. Following the initial months after launch, James was looking for inspiration on how to take a more strategic approach to growing the business over the next 6 months.
According to BT research* almost half (49 per cent) of all UK small firms like Sweet Smiles of Norfolk are worried their business wouldn’t survive without external support, while 64 per cent said they’d be more likely to adopt new technologies if the IT and telecoms industry provided training.
James Martin, founder of Sweet Smiles of Norfolk said: “As a small business owner, you’re constantly learning and adapting whilst trying to do everything yourself. The mentor session with Levi reinforced for me that everyone has to start somewhere, not to be afraid to ask for help and that although it’s easy to lose sight of progress when your focus is on the end goal, you need to be measured and calculated when making decisions.
“It was particularly valuable being able to ask for Levi’s advice on how best to market a brand, as it’s something that is growing increasingly vital to us as a business. The conversation with Levi just flowed and there are so many other points I took away from the session with him. Having a mentor is definitely something I would recommend to other small business owners – getting access to someone with experience who you can soundboard your ideas and challenges off really helps to reinforce your thinking, encourages you to focus and empowers you to take action.”
Levi Roots said: “I had a fantastic time meeting with James and sharing my thoughts on how he can help Sweet Smiles to grow. Running your own business can sometimes be overwhelming and lonely, so I know from my own Dragons’ Den experience how game-changing it was, both professionally and personally, to work with someone who could understand and appreciate my challenges and ambitions, and give me the support, advice and tools to help me build and grow my business. It’s been a pleasure to get the chance to pay it forward to founders like James as a Guest Mentor for BT and Google and help small businesses unlock the power of digital to accelerate their growth.”
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Editor, International Bakery
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