Although their approach may be far from perfect Government efforts to stimulate growth in the SME marketplace should be applauded. There are several sources of B2B growth support available, in this post we discuss some of the most popular options and the limitations to be aware of before allocating time and effort to the process.
Growth Support Options
Many schemes are available that provide an element of funding to businesses with growth aspirations. These include the Design Council, Growth Vouchers Scheme, Growth Accelerator Programme and many local schemes controlled by local councils.
All tend to be focussed on small the small to medium sized business community and those businesses with potential to grow, either in terms of turnover or employees. A problem remains with the definition of what is, and is not, a high growth business but in general lessons have been learned from experience. Schemes like the Growth Accelerator Programme are generally well thought out, deliver generally good support and are far less wasteful than past business support programmes.
The Growth Accelerator Programme
Focussed on the financial and strategic issues holding a business back the growth accelerator programme (as the name suggests) is focussed on small and medium sized businesses intent on growth. One of the major benefits of the programme, which is perhaps less known, is the training, workshop and networking services it provides.
Part funded support is provided to help businesses with access to finance, business development or growth through innovation. A growth manager is usually the first to visit to assess a business priorities, the support required and eligibility for the programme. If there is a way forward they then appoint a growth coach to take the project forward.
More information on the programme, including qualification criteria can be found here
Support Delivery Issues
Although the above organisations control the process, delivery of growth support is mainly delivered by independent Mentors and Coaches. These individuals or organisations are usually vetted and qualified by whichever organisation is responsible for the allocation of support.
If the focus is business development or innovation then a experienced coach or mentor best able to support one or more of the three main business growth strategies will be suggested to a business but it is important to be aware that this will not always be the case.
The controlling organisations (tasked with delivering best value from Government money) can only approve a finite amount of coaches and mentors so to deliver a coach or mentor with specific industry expertise in every situation can be difficult. As a result the advice delivered can be generic rather than specific to a given situation.
Also, in reality, the amount of coaches / mentors tasked with delivering support by the growth managers tend to be only a fraction of the pool available. As in any business activity personal relationships are important and managers tend to have their favourites.
Variations In The Quality Of Growth Support
Most coaches and mentors approved to deliver government funded support are able to deliver a high level of expertise. Although they may not be able to deliver industry (or task) specific advice they can, in most cases, deliver the required result.
However, it is always wise to be cautious and to check credentials. If the coach or mentor is a supposed expert in social media, check out their activity on their own social media channels. If an SEO specialist, how does their own website show up in search? If a new product specialist then what case studies can they show and what industries have they worked in. It is not required to take the coach or mentor offered and always possible to ask for an alternative
More SME business growth support options are available today than have been available for several years with the Growth Accelerator programme perhaps the most successful. There is some evidence that support may be too focussed on new rather than established businesses and the quality of support can be variable but any growth support to SME in B2B markets should be welcomed.
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