SOMERSET Council, which is facing bankruptcy in the next three months, is offering businesses across West Somerset and Exmoor free business advice.
The council has 40 places available for business owners to join an initiative providing six hours of free mentoring.
The course is aimed at businesses looking to hire new staff or planning to introduce new products or services, but is open to any which have been trading for more than a year and employ two or more staff.
The advice will be given by 40 mentors from around the county selected from executive and senior management level business leaders and successful entrepreneurs.
They include a former American stock exchange NASDAQ chief executive, a soft drinks manufacturer who supplies major retailers internationally, and a multi-million pound NHS equipment supplier.
All understand the challenges associated with running and growing a business and the value of an impartial sounding board.
As well as offering feedback, the mentors specialise in a range of subject areas, including growth strategy, finance, marketing, human resources, e-commerce, bid writing, acquisition, and exit strategy.
Somerset executive Cllr Ros Wyke said: “Owning a business is more challenging now than ever before.
“This programme offers the invaluable opportunity to bounce ideas off people who have successfully navigated similar challenges.
“Small and emerging businesses are so often critical to economic growth, and I must thank the mentors for coming forward and so generously offering their services.”
One of the mentors is Neil Basil, from Wellington’s Patient Choice, who said: “I believe I have some useful experience in growing a business, having grown my own to £10 million turnover and 41 staff.
“I am familiar with many of the growing pains that others may be experiencing and am interested in supporting someone locally to develop their business.”
Another mentor, Kerry Hole-Stuart, of Transformations Ltd said: “I was raised within a family business and have always had a keen interest in the mechanics of business and want to help others succeed.
“At 19, I joined the biggest spa company in the world and quickly moved up the corporate ladder, working with a budget of 22 million US dollars.
“I have managed many top UK health clubs and hotel spas.
“I now own a day spa and a successful country wear retail store.”