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Our Business Support Spotlight series highlights the wealth of support listed on Boost’s Support Hub and available to Lancashire businesses.

Today’s spotlight shines on Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) Lancashire Forum.

How do you help Lancashire businesses?

At Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) we have a range of opportunities and support available, drawing together our academic expertise and our deep understanding of the real business world. We’ve been working in this space for over 20 years, helping business leaders to innovate, develop and grow their businesses.

LUMS academics and staff have been working closely with SMEs throughout the pandemic using peer-learning at its core – it’s not just about learning from our expertise, but learning with and from other business leaders who have different experiences, strengths and challenges. Our approach is one of facilitated learning carried out in peer networks.

One of our long-standing initiatives is the Lancashire Forum which is supported by Boost; Lancashire’s business growth hub. Our 2021 cohorts are themed around ‘Responsible Recovery’ and start in June and September.

Why do Lancashire businesses need your support?

Through the Lancashire Forum we enable like-minded business leaders to share experiences, work together, find solutions, generate and test ideas with tools, concepts and strategies supplied by our experts and academics to spark the discussion.

The programme gives you the time to reflect on the purpose and wider impact of your business, to discover what you want that to be and how to change it and create light bulb moments as you get clarity and ideas on how to improve your business.

Because it uses practical tools and strategies, you can apply them to your businesses right away.

The support and inspiration of a network of like-minded leaders in the Lancashire business community, which will continue following the programme, helping you to gain confidence and empowerment to lead businesses towards a sustainable force for good.

How are you helping Lancashire businesses overcome the economic challenges of coronavirus?

A big lesson from the past year is that brands who care about the world, look after their people and leave a positive footprint with everything they do, are the ones winning on reputation. Whereas poor customer service, neglecting staff-wellbeing and practices that are harmful to the environment are being called out.

This isn’t about marketing, perceptions, box-ticking or lip-service in an attempt to ‘look good’. This is about putting ‘responsibility’ at the very heart of your business and entrenching it in your culture. This way it will become a natural part of how you treat people, your operations, your decisions – and it will drive your commercial success.

This culture of ‘responsibility’ is really broad. It means taking responsibility for your people in a post-Covid world. It involves considering the environmental impact of your business operations on communities, society and the global climate. It focuses on elevating the experience of customers and suppliers and it means finding clarity on your true purpose – how what you do contributes towards a better world.

What are the other key challenges for Lancashire businesses at the moment?

The events of the past year have seen changes seeping into every corner of life. The impact has been social, cultural, economic and environmental.

Some would argue much of this had already started and the pandemic merely accelerated change.

Few would argue that things will ever go back to the way they were before.

Because the stakeholders who are critical to your business; your customers, suppliers and employees, now have new priorities, behaviours and perspectives. To not evolve with them, could be to lose them.

As the owner of a small or medium size Lancashire-based business, you’re close to your customers and your people. The challenge now is what and how can you change to grow to enhance performance, and become a more sustainable, resilient business fit for the future.

This is exactly what lies behind the Lancashire Forum. It is a learning forum for leaders who recognise that in a different world, businesses will need to be run differently

What’s the future for the Lancashire economy?

The past year has been devastating and the recovery is going to be challenging but the opportunities for our region are exhilarating.

If we work together to learn and improve, Lancashire can lead the way as a beacon of responsible, sustainable, business success.

Do you want to be a part of the transformation? Find out more or register at www.lancaster.ac.uk/lums/lancashireforum

The Lancashire Forum is a four-month programme designed for senior decision makers of Lancashire businesses with between 5-250 employees. As well as offering the Lancashire Forum, it also has a wide range of offerings for businesses in the North West. For further information visit: www.lancaster.ac.uk/lums/business/sme-programmes

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