About Dormen

What is Dormen?

Dormen is Dorset's own bespoke business mentoring service. It is a confidential service provided by volunteers who are drawn from experienced members of the business community and the professions.

Established in 2005, the programme has been developed through a partnership of local authorities, public sector agencies, private sector agencies, private sector institutions and Higher/Further Education establishments.

Dormen operates on a not-for-profit basis and is managed under the wing of Dorset’s Local Authorities, who also provide part of Dormen’s funding. This enables us to keep the charge we make to clients very competitive (£200 for up to 12 months mentoring) and within the range of any small business.

What does Dormen do?

Dormen recruits experienced business and professional people as volunteers to help small and medium size developing businesses by providing a mentoring service to them.

How can Dormen benefit a business?

The experience gained by a mentor throughout their business and professional career can be brought into a developing business through the mentoring relationship. The mentor is not there to run the business nor to see it run the "way they did it". The business owner is in full control with the mentor behind them all the way. However, experience is invaluable in working through to the best business decision and mentors can help to formulate and test business plans and solve problems.

Benefits are often categorised as being hard or soft:

Hard benefits are to the business itself and equate to improved operation and peformance, improved resilience to challenges as well as clarity in terms of defining what the business is aiming for and how it is going about it. 

Soft benefits are to the business owners and equate to improved confidence and business skills such as in decision making and financial acumen or time management. Some clients seek and achieve a better work/life balance, and better functionality particularly where working with other members of their family.

What types of business can have a Dormen Business Mentor?

Whilst most of our clients are small commercial businesses, Dormen mentors have also supported Social Enterprises, Community Organisations, local Charities and other 'not-for-profit' organisations. Most types of business can be assisted by the Dormen service provided the business is essentially a small business and clear growth benefits can be identified for the business. We try to be as flexible as possible but consider each application individually depending on the circumstances.

What sort of people make up the Dormen Mentor Team?

Mentors are experienced business and professional men and women who are willing to give their time voluntarily to help small and developing businesses in Dorset. There is a selection process on recruitment and all mentors not only deliver mentoring with integrity and enthusiasm, but are bound by a code of professional standards and ethics which they sign up to with Dormen. Mentors' specific commercial and professional backgrounds vary enormously, which provides the depth and variety of the Dormen service. All Dormen mentors work to the SFEDI mentoring standard. Mentors' are also kept up to date with new developments in business through a continuous programme.

How long will a Mentor work with a business?

A mentor can remain with a business for as long as there is a business need and the business is benefiting from the relationship. Each 'term' of mentoring is one year at a time, when there is a chance to review and renew. However, independent research demonstrates that the benefits of mentoring incease over time. Indeed we have one client who has been continously mentored since 2005 and has proved an outstanding success story!

Do Dormen Business Mentors work together sometimes?

Yes. Mentors are encouraged to bring in other mentors where a business could benefit from their experience. The programme manager will discuss the likely benefits to the business with the mentors and co-ordinate work to make sure that everyone knows what is being done by whom. It might be that the mentors will both mentor the business equally, which will mean that the business will have two mentoring relationships, or there will be a "lead mentor" who will maintain the principal mentoring relationship.

What if the relationship with the business mentor doesn't work out?

Mentoring relationships are almost without exception very successful. However, it is inevitable that some will not work out. In the event that the relationship experiences any problems, the Dormen programme manager should be the first point of contact. A solution might be a change of mentor or withdrawal from the mentoring relationship. Withdrawal is rare. The Dormen project manager will be able to work through any problems and hopefully find a solution that enables you and your business to progress and succeed with the Dormen service.

Do Dormen mentors work to specific standards?

All Dormen mentors work to the SFEDI (Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative) standard for business mentors.

All Dormen mentors undergo :

  • A formal application process
  • A personal interview
  • A comprehensive induction into mentoring skills and Dormen processes
  • Continuing Professional Development opportunities for training in specific subject areas

There are also :

  • Regular surveys of client businesses and referrers to help pinpoint areas that work well and areas that could benefit from change.
  • A Code of Standards and Ethics that all Dormen Business Mentors sign up to which covers a multitude of practices expected of mentors akin to those that might be expected of any professional business service.

What does the Dormen Business Mentoring service cost?

Since the beginning of September 2011, clients have been asked to pay a one-off, non refundable, admin charge of £200 for being linked to a mentor for up to 12 months. This is a contribution to the cost of running the Dormen service. We are here to help, so if yours is a fledgling business please do ask us about flexible payment options.