Let’s Do Mentoring Case Study: Bookbinders are bound for success with help from mentors

Business mentors have been helping Design Bindings almost every step of the way since the successful family business was launched three years ago.

The company specialises in binding academic theses, guest books and presentations, as well as restoring books, and takes orders from all over the country.

It allies time-honoured craftsmanship with excellent customer service and an eye for modern design with a bit of an edge.

But Managing Director Adele Bryant admits that her own career shift meant that the mentoring service was crucial in setting the company on its feet, and has played a crucial role ever since.

Adele’s background is in neuroscience and biochemistry and she had been working as a research scientist for pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca before launching Design Bindings with husband Richard, the company’s Production Director.

She contacted the Let’s Do Mentoring programme for help with digital marketing first of all, then sought financial guidance from a second mentor, and is now under the wing of Colin Perry who offers the company support in general business development.

“The mentoring has changed to meet the specific needs I had at the time. Colin makes me write down what I think needs to change and then he makes sure I do what I say I’m going to do,” says Adele.

“All three mentors have helped me see the bigger picture more clearly and let me work on the business, rather than in the business.

“Colin has also helped bring out my skills and made me use them. I used to write research papers and present data and statistical analysis to large audiences. Colin pointed out that if I could do that I shouldn’t have a problem dealing with exhibitions and direct sales. Mentoring has given me the chance to talk to other business people and prevent me becoming insular. You understand the problems other people face and learn how to avoid the problems they had.”

Adele added that while she had worked in the area for some time, she was unfamiliar with the business landscape and the mentoring service helped her with networking.

Mentor Colin Perry added: “My job is to ask people what they want the company to look like after a given amount of time, see if that can be done and then arrive at a clear set of objectives.”

Positive outcomes

Business Practice: Better marketing, finance and setting goals

Prospects: Plans to take on two extra staff