If you’ve been struggling to give your million-dollar-idea legs, Lexus and Mark Bouris’ newest joint venture may be the sign you’ve been waiting for.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners will be able to turn their golden idea into reality with a share in the A$100,000 Mentored Grant.

Lexus Australia CEO Scott Thompson tells The CEO Magazine the luxury car manufacturer has always been driven to support small businesses, even more so during the testing times of the novel coronavirus.

“We wanted to bring hope and prosperity to the small business community and encourage innovation and great ideas,” he says. “With a tough start to 2020, these uncertain times have driven our desire to further evolve our partnership with Mark Bouris and build the Lexus and Mentored Grant program in a matter of months.”

The Mentored program, which was started by Mark in 2017, was established to educate and motivate ambitious entrepreneurs – an incredibly valuable tool during the current economic climate. It hopes to help businesses stay on the road to success and any Australia citizen with a small business can register their interest. A handful of successful applicants will be given the valuable opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of pitching experts. Of those participating, four will be selected as the deserving recipients of the grant, each receiving A$25,000.

“Lexus has always been driven by our desire to support emerging talent and we are keen to partner with a personality who works towards the same goal,” Scott explains. “Mark Bouris is not only a prominent driver in this space, but he also knows what it takes to work hard and achieve greatness.”

“Bold and out-of-the-box thinking will be encouraged as we review applications from a broad range of entrepreneurs and small businesses alike.” – Scott Thompson

The true entrepreneurial spirit is an admirable aspect that continues to run through Lexus’ 31-year-old brand.

The Japanese manufacturer, which is estimated to be worth US$9.6 billion, ranks as the 4th largest luxury automotive brand with 2019 sales up 10% on the previous year.

Lexus first went to market in 1989 with what was called a world-beating product, securely placing itself as an industry leader.

Mark Bouris Lexus

“We understand the challenges and we admire the dedication required to take on established competitors,” Scott explains. “We know from experience because we did just that – we had an idea that was possibly our most innovative one to date. An idea that forms the bedrock foundation for the brand – choosing to put the customer first in everything we do.”

But it hasn’t been without its challenges, most recently with the current pandemic. The Australian car industry in general recorded a 48.5% drop in sales in April 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.

Around the world, car sales have experienced massive declines, creating important lessons in resilience.

“When the ground is constantly moving beneath our feet, it’s important to simplify and go back to the fundamentals,” Scott says. “Complexity can breed chaos and slowing down to execute the basics – like doing what’s right for the customer, staying true to your values and ensuring your people are taken care of – will set a foundation for businesses to start tackling other challenges.”

Courageous decision-making, creativity and innovation will be essential in overcoming hurdles, and it will be the key that differentiates one small business from another.

Small business owners are invited to submit a short video pitch explaining how they plan to spend the grant after completing Mentored’s How to Pitch masterclass. Winners will be announced during a virtual live presentation night hosted by the two businessmen.

“We hope to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurial thought and innovation, encouraging those on the cusp of success to take control of their future journey and take a chance on their dreams,” Mark says.

The Lexus executive explained they are eager to see examples of companies finding success after navigating a difficult start to 2020.

Scott reflects: “Someone far smarter than I once said, ‘A year from now, you’ll wish you started yesterday.’ This thought rings true when it comes to bringing a big idea to life, because wanting to work something until it’s perfect is so natural.

“It’s very easy to limit yourself and the potential of your ideas – whether it’s fear, perceived obstacles or something else – but the key is to get moving, learn from your mistakes and know that, a year from now, you’ll wish you started yesterday.”

Applications are open from Monday, 22 June 2020 and will close Sunday, 5 July 2020. Find out more information here.