Barclaycard and The Guardian Small Business Network have teamed up with leading entrepreneurs to champion UK small businesses

Barclaycard is supporting The Guardian Small Business Network to launch the inaugural Small Business Mentoring competition, offering businesses across the UK the opportunity to win expert mentoring and guidance from leading entrepreneurs.

The competition is open to British small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with less than £15m in turnover across the retail, professional services and hospitality sectors. Small businesses can enter the competition through The Guardian website by sharing the biggest business challenge they are facing and the support they are seeking from a mentor to help overcome it.

The entries will be judged by a panel of experts including Sharon Manikon, director of customer solutions at Barclaycard, and Claire Burke, editor of the Small Business Network at The Guardian.

Three businesses will then be selected to take part in the programme – they will be partnered with a leading entrepreneur who will nurture their development for several months through one-on-one mentoring sessions.

Sharon Manikon, director of customer solutions at Barclaycard, said: “SMEs are the backbone of the British economy, but they often face a set of unique challenges, which can prove difficult to overcome, particularly when dealing with an issue for the first time.

“With our experience of working with SMEs over the past 50 years, we can offer tips on what may help in each situation, and use our network to connect them to successful entrepreneurs who may have also tackled the same obstacles.

Entries to the competition will be accepted until 31 July.