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Every small business owner can use a mentor, as the recent graduates of Arizona Public Service’s Diverse Supplier Training Program (DSTP) can attest. To help entrepreneurs get the most from this extraordinary program, APS enlists the aid of Arizona’s Business Mentor Team (BMT), a 501(c)(3) that provides in-depth mentoring services to small businesses.

“It was a holistic experience that affected every aspect of my life,” says graduate Karie Cowden, President of Connect the Dots Promotions, Phoenix, of BMT’s 26-week mentoring program.

“I learned to work on my business instead of in my business. I look at it through an entirely different lens now.”

While Cowden needed a new sales presentation and formal work processes for her promotional products company, fellow graduate Diane Green of Green & Green Inc., an architectural firm in Cave Creek, needed help crafting business and succession plans.

“After a ‘busy period’ that lasted over 20 years, it was time for us to re-group, look at where we had been and where we’d like to be in the next five years,” says Green.

“I’d highly recommend the BMT program to any business, large or small, who needs a holistic approach to maintaining a business.”

How APS and BMT Work Together

Since 1997, more than 200 small businesses in the Phoenix area have participated in APS’ comprehensive program, which primarily supports women-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned small businesses who are—or would like to become—APS suppliers.

Several years ago, DSTP program director Dale Halm got the idea of bringing BMT in to handle the mentoring piece of the program.
Says Halm, “The Business Mentor Team brings outstanding value to DTSP. Participants of the program receive individualized mentoring specific to their personal and business needs. The majority of participants report significant improvements to their business operations as a result of their mentoring experience.”

Says Rich Murphy, BMT’s CEO and Chairperson, “APS is a large company that is effectively putting its resources behind small business to help them grow.”

“That’s our goal, too—so we’re well aligned. But they’re not the only company we work with.”

What Makes the Business Mentor Team Unique

BMT’s team of volunteer mentors is comprised of successful entrepreneurs who are willing to share their expertise with others. The mentors have diverse areas of expertise, including accounting, finance, marketing, management, sales, start-ups and more.

One thing that sets BMT apart from other mentoring programs is the time and effort it takes matching mentors and mentees. New mentees meet with BMT members to discuss their business needs, are asked to take the TriMetrix evaluation, and then are matched to the primary mentor who will add the most value.

Mentees meet with their mentors once a week for a full 26 weeks.

To date, more than 100 small businesses have successfully completed BMT’s program, about one-fifth of them through APS’s DSTP program. However, BMT is expanding its mentor roster and is eager to form alliances with other area businesses.

“Yes, we’re looking for additional corporate partners who want to offer mentoring services to their suppliers or even customers,” says Patty Hughes, President of Strategic Marketing Services and a BMT board member. “We also work directly with entrepreneurs who want to take advantage of our mentoring services.”

It’s something every local entrepreneur should consider.

“The experience is invaluable,” says recent graduate RoseAnn Pasqualone, President of LLR Electric in Phoenix. “Through our mentor, we had the resources of the entire team.”

“I only wish we had access to it 10 years ago.”

For more information, visit To request an interview with a BMT spokesperson, contact Rich Murphy at rich(at)businessmentorteam(dot)com.
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For more information, contact:
Business Mentor Team
T: 928-792-1796