The Thames Business Advice Centre was set up in 1985 in Oxford as one of 300 Enterpise Agencies throughout the UK. The role was to give counselling and advice to people who were thinking of starting a business, or who had recently started. TBAC was funded mainly by the public sector.
TBAC made a lasting impression on thousands of people many of whom now run businesses in Oxfordshire.
TBAC became dormant in about 2001 due to cutbacks in public sector funding.
In 2008 Mike Jennings, who had been a TBAC advisor and director, decided that more should be done to support micro businesses in Oxfordshire and he took on TBAC and set it up as a not for profit mentoring service. The name was changed in 2011 to Oxford Business Mentors, which better describes what we do.
Being a free service can cause problems. People tend to think that where a service is free it is not very good, and where the mentors are unpaid they must lack commitment.
The view that the more you pay someone, the more they put in to it, is nowadays highly suspect. Our mentors are motivated because they choose to give their valuable time to this. They refuse to charge, not even expenses, and yet they are committed to what we are doing, enthusiastic about small business, and will always give their client their full attention.
Clients soon recognise that they are being helped by someone who has empathy and cares about them, and so they attach a high value to what is essentially a free service.
Our goal is to grow to 50+ mentors, all of whom run businesses. We will meet regularly, and we will offer networking for clients and mentors. We will also investigate any other way where we can add value to our clients businesses. Any ideas on that will be gratefully received.