In my last column, I talked about how we worked with our delivery partners to make business support in Lancashire of genuine relevance to high-growth businesses. Another challenge we faced during this process was getting people to trust in the support on offer.
It’s often said that people buy people, so high-growth business owners will only be encouraged to engage with business support if the person delivering it knows what they’re talking about and can genuinely add value.
This means that while the public sector may be charged with facilitating business support, it has to be delivered on the ground by people with private sector expertise. In developing Boost Business Lancashire, we worked hard to ensure that our growth mentors, trainers, advisers and speakers are people who’ve been there and done it - people who’ve experienced the same growth pains as the entrepreneurs and business owners they are supporting.
Connecting businesses with experienced advisers
For example, Darwen-based Pendle Doors has recently received support from Boost Business Lancashire through the Growth Mentoring programme run by Community & Business Partners. Pendle Doors’ directors Stephen and Sue Anderson have enjoyed a successful relationship with Victor Giannandrea, a business mentor with 40 years’ experience with furniture companies in the private sector, including as sales director for Silentnight Group.
According to Stephen Anderson the help and support received from Victor has been “invaluable as we strive to grow our business in an efficient and sustainable way”. Another example is the UCLan Innovation Clinic which is run by Martin Jones, a seasoned product development manager who has worked for some of the biggest names in the product and retail sectors.
How to access support through Boost Business Lancashire
So far around 900 businesses have accessed support through Boost Business Lancashire. We are on our way to reaching our objectives of growing the county’s economy by £20m, creating at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguarding 700 more by 2015. Boost offers a range of services, most of them free and some part-funded, including:
Businesses can sign up for support using our online form or by calling 0800 488 0057.
Andy Walker is head of business growth and innovation for Lancashire County Council’s economic development service