29th March 2018
Could your business benefit?
Gill Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd has been providing businesses throughout the county with one to one business advice through the Worcestershire Business Accelerator programme. She and the other BizSmart core advisors are looking for more businesses to take part in this free programme in 2018.
“The purpose of the Accelerator programme is to support growing businesses as they scale-up.” says Gill. “Typically, the business will have been trading a couple of years and already have achieved a successful launch but often then get stuck at this stage of growth”. Some of the challenges they encounter will be to increase their sales pipeline, manage cashflow, recruit and train staff and having to design and implement more robust business systems and processes.
That’s where the BizSmart team come in. Unlike many other business coaches or advisors, they are all experienced in starting up and running their own small business, so they bring a practical approach and relevant experience to the business owners they support. There is no ‘one size fits all’ programme, each advisor and business owner have the freedom to prioritise critical issues that are barriers to growth and spend more time on these issues in the 12 hours of one to one sessions. The advisors have different areas of specialism including sales and marketing, exporting, finance and engineering so the programme is tailored around how to best suit their individual needs.
To supplement the 12 hours individual support there is an organised system of peer to peer mentoring which all the participating businesses are encouraged to attend. This grows into a ‘support network’ of like-minded business owners who can share ideas with each other, helping solve problems as they arise in the future. Other free resources include weekly ‘lunch and learn’ webinars on various topics and specialist support from a wider team of associates.
Breda Hadley of Citrus Computing found the help and advice invaluable. She and her team are long-standing SAGE accredited business partners. Their company provide extensive ‘behind the scenes’ work for their customers particularly in making sure data back-up is done daily and running virus checks to keep that data secure. Sharing this information with her contract customers enabled Citrus to increase their pricing (and profitability) without losing a single customer for the 2018 year. Citrus customers valued the quality of support and peace of mind about business continuity should a viral attack happen to them.
Perrigo Consultants, a 5-year-old tax and accountancy business had a challenge with recruiting the right staff to support their growth ambitions. The business had outgrown their original business plan and was starting to recruit people. The business now has seven staff, including Dave Perrigo and his wife, and this gives them a lot more scope to spend time on business development activities. Clients benefit from a streamlined back office where everything is taken care of efficiently. Dave commented “Working with BizSmart makes you accountable and gives you guidance in problem areas. The quarterly goal setting keeps you on track – it’s amazing how fast three months go. I’d say it’s like having a coach for sports and fitness. It can be a lonely place, running a business, and having a strategic vision helps with motivation. It stops you being too busy to look at the business.”
Evesham-based Areca Design have benefited from 2 programmes and from receiving grant funding, enabling MD Mick Hurst to diversify the business into more profitable products including the use of innovative technology and mobile apps. His 8 1/2 year old business has successfully grown from a one-man start-up and now employs ten members of staff.