Thirty businesses leaders from the West Midlands took part in the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth in 2015. Software developers, recruitment consultancies, accountants and training companies were all represented and each business showed potential for growth and an enthusiasm for learning and developing their own business knowledge.
See what some of them have to say about the benefits of taking part in the programme below.
Sandra set up Green Revolutions CIC in October 2013. The social enterprise aims to help cut car journeys and improve quality of life by promoting greener and healthier transport. Sandra joined the programme to gain the knowledge and skills to support the growth and development of the company. Sandra explains:
"The programme was invaluable as I have developed my skills and knowledge and increased insight into my business to lead Green Revolutions CIC into a new phase of growth, drive success through new business, find investment and grasp financial control to enable a keen focus to build on strategies for sustainable growth. I also have a renewed enthusiasm for marketing and social media to connect and engage with our current and potential members.
My mentor took a real interest in every detail of my business. She was able to apply her experience and knowledge to my business and situation. She honed in on the nitty gritty and would work through a problem until it was solved and a way forward identified.
I would recommend the course to all small businesses and social enterprises in the area as the programme is a fantastic opportunity to take a good look at your business, to learn how to improve and develop strategy and planning and then combine this into a Growth Strategy to share with your board and potential investors."
For more information about Green Revolutions visit www.carclubbrum.org.uk.
Lewis’s Deli & Eatery has been providing relaxed, ‘neighbourhood style’ service and simple, quality food to the people of Moseley in Birmingham since 2012. Owner Lewis has been delighted with the success of his first solo venture and has ambitions to take his business to the next level. He joined the programme to fully appreciate what his successful business offer is, in order to be able to steer future growth. Lewis explains,
"There are lots of courses out there, but not many are suitable for small hospitality businesses like mine which are set up in a less formal way than many other industries. The programme was ideal for me as the timescale over several months was clearly designed to fit around the day to day operation of a one man business with customers to feed! It has always been my intention to open a second shop in the city, but I needed to know how and why my business has gone well so far, so I can drive things forward based on a reasoned plan rather than acting on instinct.’
For me the ‘Finance’ content of the programme was vital. I now have a better understanding of the financial information available and how to use it to plan for growth. I might have struggled on my own with the technical elements, but my business mentor has been brilliant at showing me how the theory translated practically to my business."
Sian Kelly is a director at Inform Accounting, which started trading in 2011 and offers up to date business advice grounded in real time financial information through cloud based accounting. The firm’s approach also enables them to support the monitoring of KPIs and to define business strategies to support business growth. Sian is now seeing the impact and benefits of the programme:
"I applied for the programme because I was keen to grow the business and I also wanted to brush up on strategic advice, so I could apply some new techniques to my business management. The programme has been beneficial in allowing me to gain new business and, as a result, I have taken on a new senior team member.’
I have new clients and have gained more confidence in my growth plan. I would definitely recommend the programme to other small businesses as it is great for networking and provides the tools to develop a strategy for growth specific to your business."
For more information about Inform accounting visit www.informaccounting.co.uk
Lyson Design is an architectural practice that operates in commercial, social housing and residential markets. The company started trading in 2010, and Director, Paul, took part in the programme to understand more about his business and to learn how to achieve growth. Paul says,
"Taking part in the programme has really revitalised my motivation to push my business forward. Working with an excellent business mentor to develop an informed plan for growth has allowed me to overhaul the business, introducing new processes and procedures to help me run it as effectively as possible. With the knowledge and experience I gained from the workshops I have been able to explore new ways of promoting the business and target different customers. I’m on track to increase turnover, take on more staff and we are working on a new social enterprise."
For more information about Lyson Design visit www.lysondesign.co.uk.
Citizen Click helps third sector businesses, large and small, discover the benefits of using digital media by making it practical and keeping it simple. Nate, joined the programme delivered by Aston Business School as he wanted to develop his business management skills.
"We were doing good business before but now we are doing great business. I find its small changes that can make huge differences. We managed to secure finance for new equipment/services, which I was reluctant to do before the course. This has helped to accommodate new staff, for which I now have the skills to recruit and manage. And something as simple as adding additional memory (RAM) to our computers to improve performance, greatly increased staff productivity for a very low cost. Simple things like this often get overlooked.
Since completing the programme I have taken a step back to look at the organisation as a whole, seeing the bigger picture helps me to keep it driving forward. It was not just my business knowledge that improved but also my self-confidence and determination in reaching my growth targets."
For information on Citizen Click CIC, visit www.citizenclick.co.uk.
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