North West businesses are already benefiting from a unique course aimed at helping SMEs grow and prosper.
Delivered by the University of Salford Business School, Help to Grow: Management takes place over twelve weeks, with new courses starting throughout the year. Teaching includes both online and face-to-face sessions with leading figures from industry and experienced entrepreneurs.
The first group of businesses are already gaining insights and opening up networking opportunities on the course.
Managing Director Sara Hunt is among the first group to take the course. Her business, Saraband, an awarding winning independent publisher based in Media City, employs five people.
She said: “Our industry has changed dramatically and is still changing all the time. The digital revolution, audiobooks, e-books have changed the product, and of course the practice of offering discounted books as well as the arrival of Amazon revolutionised the retail side. And then we had the pandemic which left us very stretched and pressurised.
"The course has brought me big benefits already. It is giving me a framework, helping make our efforts more strategic and concrete. It has helped me reorganise my thoughts and prioritise and get my head round strategic thinking.
“But one of the biggest bonuses has been networking with other business leaders, from all different industries. Practical tips and suggestions and general support from the group. Talking to others facing the same challenges but from outside your peer group.
“The value for money of the course is phenomenal.”
And Ramin Bostan, Chief Operating Officer of Ostereo, a Manchester based music recording and production company employing 13 people, is also finding value in the course.
He said: “It has been great to meet with peers in other industries and discuss how they approach the problems that most businesses are facing at the moment.
“The elements of the course around value and mission have been important to help me develop the business and will help me realign what we are doing in a post-pandemic world.
“Covid has impacted our revenue streams and the course is helping think about new ways of approaching the challenges the business faces. I would recommend to anyone who is trying to navigate a business in the current climate.”
The programme covers several key areas of leadership, including strategy and innovation, growing national and international markets and adopting digital technology. It is open to all businesses with between 5 and 249 employees and 90% of the costs are covered by Government funding, leaving business to pay just £750.
Designed to be completed alongside running a business, the programme is built around a practical curriculum which includes eight online 2-hour sessions, one-to-one support from a mentor, four practical and interactive case-study workshops, and peer learning.
Expressions of interest for a place on the next cohorts are being taken here. The deadline to apply is two weeks before the start of the course.