The West Midlands is home to 171,025 small businesses. According to the government’s Office of National Statistics, just 49.2% of enterprises born in 2009 in the West Midlands survived to 2013*. A UKCES survey found that only 64% of managers in region received training in the last 12 months**.
More than 90 of small businesses attended the Growing Your Small Business event at Aston Business School on 25 June 2015. Business owners and managers heard from Heather Forrester, Managing Director, Research by Design Ltd sharing her experiences of leading a high-growth business, as well as from speakers giving practical information on the support programmes for small businesses offered by business schools and the Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) regional networks.
It was the latest stop in a national roadshow taking in 12 UK regions during May and June to bring together small businesses with their local business schools, professional networks and Local Economic Partnerships.
The campaign has been created by CMI in partnership with the Chartered Association of Business Schools (Chartered ABS) and its Small Business Charter Initiative, and is being supported by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and the Supper Club.
While there are over 600 different grant and support initiatives for small businesses, there is a low level of awareness and understanding among small businesses of what is on offer. Last June, CMI, Chartered ABS and QAA published a white paper, 21st Century Leaders, which reported that 68% of employers surveyed believe that business courses are too focused on the agenda of big business rather than preparing students for working in small businesses.
Alongside Growing Your Small Business, the UK’s small businesses are also being supported by an employer group led by Serco, working with CMI and members of the Chartered Association of Business Schools. The group is developing a new Apprenticeship Degree in Chartered Management. This will provide a new route for small businesses to develop professional managers, who can learn while earning and working.
Piers Cain, Head of Knowledge and Stakeholder Relations, CMI commented:
“Businesses that employ fewer than 50 people make up more than 98% of the West Midlands’s private sector. Growing these businesses is essential to boosting the productivity of the UK economy. We’re showing small businesses how this can be done, simply by raising their management and leadership capabilities. This is something every business can do.”
Professor Mark Hart, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Aston Business School commented:
“We were delighted to host the Growing Your Small Business event. Aston Business School is a leader on growth support for the West Midlands’ small businesses, as evidenced by our Small Business Charter Gold Award and our growth programmes such as Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. Recent research from the Enterprise Research Centre (UK Growth Dashboard 2015) shows us that small businesses in every corner of the UK are growing at their fastest rate since the Great Recession, while more and more entrepreneurs have the confidence to take the plunge. But more than 75% of businesses in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP area report strategy and management as barriers to growth. Now more than ever, there is a need for us to provide this support and this event was a perfect way for us to showcase the practical programmes that we offer to help businesses grow and develop."
Heather Forrester, Managing Director, Research by Design Ltd commented:
“Small businesses, like mine, are the lifeblood of the West Midlands’s economy. Many businesses will try and achieve success on their own. I want them to know there’s plenty of support, such as the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme, to help them develop their management and leadership to ensure they thrive. Along with this comes the network of like-minded businesses with the drive for growth who find it advantageous to share their challenges with others in the same situation and those who have worked through them.”
As part of Growing Your Small Business, CMI will be creating a detailed graphical heatmap providing a layered picture of small business performance alongside details of relevant management support provided by business schools in each UK region. The data, insights and best practice from all these events will feed into a report, which will be launched at events in the House of Commons, Holyrood, Welsh Assembly and Stormont in September 2015.
For more information on Growing Your Small Business visit:www.managers.org.uk/GrowingSMEs
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Notes to editors
*Business Demography – 2013, ONS, 2014
**Employer Skills Survey 2013, UKCES, 2014