A detailed study of UK start ups has shown that only 38% manage to survive the first ten years. Of those that do, most stay small – only 10% have more than ten employees a decade later, and fewer than 5% have more than 20.
Research indicates that one of the biggest barriers to SME growth is the inability of the leadership – due to lack of time or specialist skills – to adequately meet the demands expansion. Growth usually requires significant and complex changes to organisational structure, business model, marketing strategy and financial resources, at a time when managers and owners are already stretched to the limit.
To help more businesses achieve their high growth potential, GWE Business West recently announced a new service called Coaching for High Growth. Fully funded by the ERDF, it’s designed to help ambitious SMEs – that are either achieving or have the potential to achieve high growth – to face new challenges or embark on the next level of expansion.
Fundamental to the concept is that business owners and mangers will have access to the very highest level of business expertise – a guiding hand from an experienced business person who is impartial and has the business’s best interests at heart.
To achieve this, the service will be spearheaded by independent business coaches located throughout the South West (except Cornwall). GWE has embarked on a rigorous induction and selection process, lasting almost a year and resulting in an elite pool of almost 200 coaches covering various business needs:
- Sales & marketing
- Change management
- Organisational development
Experience is vital part of the selection. The coaches are all successful business people in their own right, with boardroom experience either as full time or non-executive directors. From a variety of backgrounds, some are serial entrepreneurs while others are angel investors or training coaches.
The idea is that businesses can browse the database of available coaches and select those that seem most appropriate. Alternatively, the Growth Team at GWE will find a selection of coaches that suit the business’s location and requirements, before allowing the business to make the final decision.
The relationship between coach and business will be very close. The coach will work with the management team over a 9 to 12 month period, reviewing the business, formulating strategies for growth, assisting with organisational development and looking at the business’s immediate practical requirements. Where the coach identifies a need for additional assistance – for example workshops, introductions to investors or networking opportunities – this may also be arranged as part of the funded support.
“The aim of Coaching for High Growth,” explains Neil Higginson from Solutions for Business in the South West, “is to give any business that has the potential for high growth, the resources and knowledge they need to achieve it.”
Find out more about Coaching for High Growth.