Don’t go it alone

Thursday, 22 August 2013, 7:01 | Category : General
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I’ve been thinking lately about connections, and drawing on learnings from those around you to help take the right path for you and your business.

That old African proverb, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, can also be applied to a small business, which needs to be supported, fed and watered by those around it. Unless its founders are veteran entrepreneurs, it’s likely they will need help. George and I certainly did – and do!

Recognising the value of 1:1 mentoring, the British government launched its Growth Accelerator initiative in 2012. It’s a tie-up between govt and the private sector, with regional partners Grant Thornton, Pera and Oxford Innovation selected to implement the scheme, which will help 26,000 businesses over three years. It will provide professional coaching and mentoring services, delivered via the three partners, to qualifying small businesses who put up part of the fees – the rest is heavily subsidised by the scheme. The programme fits with the govt’s broader manifesto; if delivered correctly, it will help get more people into work as the participating firms get bigger and start hiring.

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PRN has been picked as a “high potential” company eligible to take part in the Growth Accelerator programme, and we’re excited. We’ve had a series of informal mentors since we started the business in 2005 with no business management experience but loads of PR experience and passion for our idea. We’ve been really lucky in that several former bosses and social contacts have taken an interest in our baby and helped us get it to where it is today. Thanks!

I think where people sometimes go wrong is that they think that they are meant to instinctively know how to run all aspects of a business – by osmosis. There’s a sense that asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure – whereas the inverse is true. Why not enlist help & coaching from whatever avenue available, if it prevents against common mistakes which can lead a business into difficulties?

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) released its latest forecast this week, with the tone being one of cautious optimism. Now we know that the eurozone has emerged from recession, the CBI feels confident enough to predict overall economic growth of 1.2% for 2013 (up from the original prediction of 1%). It’s also uplifted its 2014 forecast from 2% to 2.3% growth.

With the outlook brightening, it’s a great time for us small businesses to be ambitious and to give ourselves the best chance by enlisting outside help. This might be a professional organisation, or simply a business contact known to you who you respect and admire, who would be willing to work with you to give consistent advice and support. Whatever you do – don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Nicky

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