Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

Helping small businesses to survive and thrive

Helping small businesses to survive and thrive

Nottingham Business School has been working with the Chartered Association of Business Schools to deliver a government funded programme for leaders of small and medium-sized businesses.


The Small Business Leadership Programme has supported senior leaders from across England to enhance their business’s resilience and recovery from the impact of Covid-19, and develop the potential for future growth and productivity. The online programme was fully funded by the Government as part of a £20 million package aimed at helping small businesses in the long term, with the value of support participants received estimated to be worth £5,280.

Over 130 SMEs from around Englandwere welcomed onto their Small Business Leadership Programme by Nottingham Trent University. All the businesses supportedwere well established companies looking to instil enthusiasm,new ideas and new ways of working during what has been a tough time for business. Many of the participants had not previously engaged with a University to support their business, and all had been affected by Covid-19 in some way.

Mike Hunter is CEO at Better Languages, a Nottingham translation company working with retailers and UK exporters on multilingual packagingand communications since 1983.

“The business has been through a lot of change in the last few years. We sold our offices three years ago and went online, with staff working from home. That now feels like a very wise move,in light ofCovid-19,but when I joined the Small Business LeadershipProgramme, we were facing the challenge of how to win more business and improve turnover, in a pandemic and post-Brexit.

“The sessions on marketing were particularly helpful and enabled us to think more clearly about our sales and marketing strategy. We’ve recently launched an updated website and are working on anumber of projects to generate new business. It’s early days, but we’re seeing an upturn in enquiries and sales, especially from the US and Ireland. Personally, I was feeling very stale, having worked in the business for so many years. The programme has helped me to generate new ideas and think more strategically. I would definitely recommend it to other senior managers.”

Rita Chandarana, owner manager of Eventologists, a corporate events production company in Leicester, joined the programme after her business was put on hold by pandemic restrictions.

“There are very few structured training programmes for small business leaders, so the programme was a great chance to surround myself with other like-minded owners and managers, go back to the fundamentals of running a business and look at things differently.

“Covid-19 has hit the events industry particularly hard but when we can re-open, I’ll be opening at a much more efficient level with a stronger foothold in the sector. I knew I needed to focus on my business proposition and brand story and was already working with a marketing agency, but the programme has given me the confidence to know I’m making the right decisions and put my ideas into action. We’ve relaunched our brand and it’s already clear that clients see us differently and want to give us more serious, impactful work.

“The HR sessions have also helped me to grow as a manager and learn how to be more direct and straightforward. It can be lonely at the top so having the support of the programme and other business leaders has been invaluable.”

Dr Lynn Oxborrow, Associate Professor in Management and leader of NBS programmes to support SMEs said: 'the SBLP has brought together a thoroughly diverse group of small and medium sized businesses, and provided their leaders with high quality knowledge and practical tools to take away, as well as an inspiring opportunity to share experiences and spur each other along. For long established SMEs, this can mean overcoming inertia and gaining a new lease of life. Covid-19 has caused many SME leaders to rethink what they do, and our participants demonstrate how this opportunity can be captured - with a little help.'

The programme is about to be superseded, across the UK, by Help to Grow: Management.

Announced at Budget 2021, ‘Help to Grow’ will support small businesses to improve their management and digital adoption and reach their growth potential. It will lay the foundations of the recovery, building on the momentum of Covid-related digital adoption and supporting small businesses to adapt their business models and operations.The support will be a hybrid of virtual and in person deliveryproviding  50 hours support through group webinars, case study workshops, peer calls with modules covering Strategies for Growth and Innovation, Engaging with Customers, Building a Sustainable and Agile Business, Operations and Financial Strategies. All participants will received 10 hours of one to one support from a mentor to help to develop a business growth plan.

Find out more at ourInformation Session on 19th July by booking at

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