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.

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 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.

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 people who are willing to give their time to help small and developing businesses in Dorset. There is a selection process on recruitment and all mentors 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.

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 – but usually no more than 12 months in total.

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.

My business and I really benefitted from mentoring. How can I express my appreciation of Dormen?

Although our mentors are volunteers, Dormen does not run on thin air alone! So, if you feel that your business has benefitted from working with your mentor, you might wish to consider making a donation to Dormen. Such contributions help to ensure that Dormen continues to exist and provide support to other small businesses in Dorset. If you would like to do this, please contact one of the Programme Managers.

Other ways of 'paying back' Dormen include giving us feedback on our mentoring service, putting a link to our website on your website, telling your business friends about Dormen, and perhaps considering becoming a mentor yourself.

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