1. It’s not just business theory
With some business support programmes being run by academics, it’s reasonable to think that programmes would be theory-heavy, full of textbook learning or reminiscent of your past experience time with education. However this is far from the case.
Peter Davies – Chief Executive of James Lister & Sons also had these concerns when he participated in the Help To Grow Management programme – a business support programme designed for managers looking to boost their performance, resilience and long-term growth of their business.
‘My worries were that it would be too heavy on theory were totally unfounded – yes of course, some of that is explained, but it was done in such a practical way, linked to real life business examples and to our own situations, it then truly becomes useful’
Most business support programmes are geared to specifically support practical development whether that be through improving leadership skills or building financial growth. The programmes, like Peter’s also try to involve academics and facilitators who have had past experience of running a business, and can use this to benefit the participants.
2. It’s a real confidence booster
With business confidence down across the economy at the beginning of 2022 due to the pandemic and rising prices, many businesses have felt a great deal of uncertainty and insecurity.
Jessica-Tyne Davis of Clean Co. Ltd, an industrial cleaning business also felt the same after 5 years of starting her business. However, participating in the Enterprise For Success workshop series helped her feel more sure of her business direction and its potential for growth.
‘I’ve noticed a change in myself, I feel confidence and supported, and I feel like I’m not alone – it’s not just me going through this journey. For the first five years, I just felt like a man-in-a-van but now I feel like I’ve got what I need to grow my business.’
Many business support programmes including the Enterprise For Success series aimed at recently started businesses, use the latest SME research and tried and tested tools and techniques to help businesses understand how to reach peak performance, whether that be in marketing, leadership or general business strategy. Enterprise For Success offers a mix of 1-1 consultancy support and group-led sessions to help you get the best out of your business.
3. They can lead to long-term partnerships
Business support programmes are not just one-time things, through the networking opportunities and wider choice of services of the organisations that run them, they can lead to new business deals or long-term strategic partnerships.
That was the case for leading lingerie brand Lounge Underwear when they signed up to the Higher Level Skills Match programme – an account-managed skills programme that helps SMEs in the Greater Birmingham area, access the skills and talent they need to grow.
After initially joining three years ago, Lounge have gone on to recruit new staff in graduate roles, had the opportunity to host year long internships and gained valuable HR advice and guidance – ultimately leading to the business continuing to grow year-on-year.
4. Build your network and spread your brand
As mentioned above, our business support programmes don’t exist as one-off sessions. You become part of a wider community that has the opportunity to transmit your brand and its message to a wider audience. This can be particularly useful when you’re a new startup and need to get new sales and revenue fast.
After becoming a member of STEAMhouse Incubator, Simon Caulton was looking for support to help start and launch his new leisurewear business Ones Trainers. After successfully doing this, the wider STEAMhouse and Birmingham City University team were able to support his entry into a series of business awards. From this, he became shortlisted ‘in the Entrepreneur of the Year’ award at the Signature awards, and won the Rising Start category at the National Startup Awards.
So what can you learn from these lessons?
The business support programmes out there, many of them free or part-funded can offer a wider variety of benefits beyond what you expect – and are often the launchpad for businesses to access other and new opportunities. To find out more about our programmes and to learn how to grow your business you can find out more here.
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