Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

Growing Support for your Small Business

Growing Support for your Small Business

Extra places are being made available for Small Business leaders in the East Midlands to build on their leadership skills and learn with others.  In response to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the programme has been created specifically to help SMEs build resilience, tackle challenges and drive future growth.

The Small Business Leadership Programme (SBLP) is free and fully funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. It is an 8 to 10-week training programme for senior leaders in SMEs across England, to enhance small business resilience and recovery from the impact of COVID-19, and develop potential for future growth and productivity.

Nottingham Trent University have been delivering the programme since November with two cohorts made up of SMEs from Lincolnshire to Staffordshire - and all points in between – now close to completing the programme. Due to the high take up and positive feedback, we have recently taken on delivery of two new cohorts for 2021, so that additional SMEs can benefit.

The SME participants have so far explored new ways of adding value for their customers through innovation and understanding what customers really appreciate. Individual leaders have been encouraged to think differently about how they lead and engage their teams and how their company vision and values can support their branding and marketing, as well as help with staff and stakeholder relationships. Most recently, participants are exploring ways to link productivity and operational efficiency to the changing needs of their specific customers, and tools and techniques to keep on top of their finances in these rapidly changing times.

The programme is delivered online by small business experts – including entrepreneurs, business leaders and academics from Nottingham Business School - and is being replicated by other business schools across England. It is appropriate for all sectors, including manufacturing, services and not-for-profit organisations.

Dr Lynn Oxborrow, Nottingham Business School’s Project Lead for the Small Business Leadership Programme and Associate Professor at Nottingham Trent University, said: “The SBLP is appealing to a wide diversity of SMEs, who have all been affected in different ways by Covid 19 – some positive and others not so. One thing that they have in common is that they are all engaged and keen to learn from each other as well as from the expert speakers and comprehensive materials.”

The programme consists of eight, 90-minute webinars, each backed up by a set if resources that you can work through independently according to your time and specific business needs. The facilitators are on-hand to help with this and advise anyone who needs some additional guidance. The SBLP is designed to support and fit in with day-to-day business delivery.

A big aspect of the programme is the opportunity to learn from others in a supportive peer-group environment. Participating leaders and managers have the chance to meet virtually each week to reflect on what they have learnt and discuss how this applies to their individual businesses. The discussions that follow are the highlight of the week, and lead to sharing of ideas, encouragement and opportunities for collaboration.

For SME leaders who might be working remotely, or facing challenges on their own, this could be a particularly valuable part of the programme. By working together each week, participants develop a sense of community – even when it takes place on an online platform!  This can all help to aid business resilience, productivity and future growth in the current climate, whether your business is struggling or able to build on new opportunities as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Lynn Oxborrow added:

“The peer learning sessions work really well and give all participants an opportunity to discuss their progress and share ideas. It’s really hard to believe that they have never actually met and have only known each other virtually for a few weeks.”

Participants must be in senior management roles, with at least one direct report, in businesses that have been operating for at least one year, and with 5-249 employees.

This scheme is part of a £20 million package the government is providing to help small businesses in the long term. The Small Business Leadership Programme is being delivered across the country by a consortium of business schools accredited by the Small Business Charter. The State Aid value of the free support is estimated as £5000.

Nottingham Business School will hold a virtual Information Session on 19 January 2021. Book here to join the session. Programme start dates are available in January and February 2021.

To find out more or join the scheme, register here: Small Business Leadership Programme

To talk to one of our team at Nottingham Business School - email:

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