Building knowledge and networks: How Help to Grow: Management is upskilling small business leaders in the region

Help to Grow: Management is a highly practical 12-week training programme aimed at senior leaders in SMEs, providing key skills to help businesses innovate and drive growth.

In the North East, the programme is delivered by Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University. We spoke to two participants from the current cohort here in the region about their experience so far.

Dave Knowles is Managing Director of Alpine Online, which provides specialist data insight to clients in the grocery sector and Trevor Pill is Executive Director at Onyx Health, healthcare communications experts. Both businesses are based in the North East but work with clients right across the UK and beyond.

Why did you sign up for Help to Grow: Management?

Dave: I’m in the process of growing my business and looking to recruit new staff. I spotted the course on LinkedIn and two things appealed: 1. it’s a short and focussed programme – just 12 weeks – during which you can create a robust business plan from scratch and 2. it’s 90% funded by government, so it’s incredibly good value. I needed to better understand all aspects of running a small business and Help to Grow takes you through it step by step.

Trevor: We’ve scaled up quite quickly in the past 18 months and at the same time my role has evolved, as I’m transitioning to lead the agency in future. I come from a design background and don’t have any formal business or leadership training. So, I was keen to broaden my knowledge and gain some practical tools and tips. Whilst we do have future plans to grow beyond our current size, our main priority at this juncture is to improve operationally and become more streamlined, improve productivity, and grow our profitability as a result.

Trevor Pill, Executive Director, Onyx Health

What’s been the most valuable part of the programme to date?

Dave: For me, it was the session on vision, mission and values, which I really wanted to get right as it underpins everything you do. I had the basics in place but hadn’t invested enough time in structuring or polishing what the business stands for and aims to achieve. I also find the peer group calls brilliant. Being able to talk through ideas and experiences in a more informal situation gives you time to reflect and sense check with other people who are growing small businesses too.

Trevor: I found the digital audit incredibly useful. Digital leadership is an area that I want to develop; we know that the future of healthcare communications is in the digital sphere. The process we went through has helped me to change our approach and look at implementing more digital solutions that will increase our efficiency and improve the experience for our clients. I’ve also found the mentoring sessions invaluable. My mentor is a great sounding board for the ideas I’m developing around digital engagement and can provide an objective perspective. I always leave each session with an action to take forward too.

Dave Knowles, Managing Director, Alpine Online

What would you say to another small business leader considering Help to Grow?

Dave: Go for it! It will undoubtedly add value to your business and is incredible value for the knowledge you gain and the expertise you can tap into. I’m also building a great regional business network.

Trevor: There’s something for everyone and it will challenge you in a positive way. You’ll make some great connections, have fantastic conversations with peers, and it gives you plenty of tools and new ideas to take forward in your own business.

To find out more visit https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/helptogrow

To secure a place on the programme, visit https://smallbusinesscharter.org/h2gm-registration/ and select Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Northumbria University .

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