Is it time to face the fact that you could use some management training?
There’s no shame in admitting you need help, as long as you’re not the one needing it. At least that seems to be the case when it comes to the many print company owners/managers who feel it’s bruising to their ego to “go on a course”. Yet 600 business leaders from across all sorts of disciplines and service sectors have embraced the ‘Your Business Your Future' programme in the past six years. And now the Forum of Private Business has joined forces to help small business owners grow their businesses, create jobs and drive economic recovery.
The partnership allows FPB members to participate in two highly distinctive development initiatives. One, the ‘Better Business Programme’, is a sophisticated development training scheme for owner managers of established businesses, with turnovers between £500,000 and £20m, who want to take their business to the next level.
In addition, ‘Foundations for Growth’ has been designed for owner-managers of businesses with turnovers of less than £500,000 who want to put in place firm foundations to enable their business to grow.
As a business manager busy prioritising day-to-day tasks and meeting short-term business needs, it’s perhaps tempting to think that taking part in one of these management development programmes is a luxury rather than a necessity, especially if you’re running a new start-up. While it’s acknowledged that it’s generally extremely tough for new businesses in the first 12 months it’s also worth noting that research has highlighted that years two and three are also hugely significant, particularly if you are a young entrepreneur.
The FPB is seeing that in the UK there is an upturn in the number of young people starting businesses after university or even as an alternative to higher education – and in print we’ve noticed the trend over the past couple of years. The Foundations for Growth programme is particularly useful to such newcomers, ensuring they the right skills and support to maximise their chances of success.
Further, recent figures show that firms with turnovers between £2.5 and £5m make up the largest number of bankruptcies and liquidations. The FPB believes many of these businesses could have greatly benefited from the bespoke support provided by the Better Business Programme.
The current state of the economy makes the challenge of starting and growing a business even tougher. Despite protestations to the contrary, banks are still unwilling to lend at affordable rates. The Government’s abolition of the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and their regional Business Link services has undermined public sector business support and often piecemeal enterprise policies in place of more radical growth initiatives, particularly in the areas of tax, red tape and finance, cast a shadow over ambitious plans for small business growth and job creation to drive sustained economic recovery.
However, feedback from businesses participants in the Your Business, Your Future programmes suggests that there is scope for business owners to take control of their own destinies. It is the personal ambition, drive, leadership ability and often sheer the bloody minded determination to succeed that sets entrepreneurs apart, but they should not be too blinkered to seek out the right information, guidance and support.
One business owner who has seen the benefits of the programme first hand is FPB member Tristram Mayhew of Go Ape and winner of the ‘small to medium sized business of the year award 2009’ at the National Business Awards.
"Participating in a programme was the key turning point in driving profitable growth for Go Ape. It led to us trebling our profit to £1.4 million in three years,” he said. “I believe any ambitious owner-led business would benefit from going through this exercise.”
In the six years the Your Business, Your Future programme has been running the economy has experienced significant change, and small businesses have felt the full force but this initiative should provide business owners with the knowledge, insight and skills to help shape a strategic vision for growth and greater profitability.
Forum members are eligible for scholarships to help towards paying the programme’s fees and a full refund is available for any business owner who feels they are not receiving value for money.
For details you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 612 6266