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Talk to any business about why they don’t regularly access free business support and you’ll get a wide range of answers.

But very often it boils down to the fact they don’t think it can help them – it isn’t relevant to their business.

It’s a perennial challenge – how do you tailor business support services so they can make a meaningful impact on a business that has wildly differing requirements to the next company?

When we were developing the Boost Business Lancashire service we conducted a lot of research among the business community. The service is focused on high-growth businesses and those with high growth potential, so how could we appeal to growing business owners?

How we developed Boost Business Lancashire

Our research confirmed that the needs of these businesses falls into specific areas – access to finance, developing leadership qualities, finding a mentor and up-skilling the workforce. We looked at all of these areas and then matched specific programmes to address this need.

As well as the type of business support, we knew that sector-specific knowledge was very important. What use is a business support programme delivered by someone with a background in leisure and hospitality, when you’re in the aerospace manufacturing sector?

This is why we developed the Growth Sectors Support service as part of Boost, to provide tailored support in industries such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace, energy and environmental, creative and digital; and finance and professional.

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:

  • Growth Mentoring by Community & Business Partners; providing high-growth mentoring support through successful business leaders who have already worked through similar challenges.
  • Lancashire Forum; an exclusive leadership peer-to-peer networking and development programme run by Lancaster University.
  • Lancashire LEAP; led by Winning Pitch and Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, providing advice to pre-start and early start (1-3 year-old) businesses.
  • UCLan’s Innovation Clinic; aimed at supporting advanced manufacturing and engineering companies to develop new products and move into new markets.
  • Growth Sectors Support; specialist in-depth, independent, practical support to help businesses in the creative and digital, environmental, advanced manufacturing, aerospace and finance sectors; to accelerate business growth.
  • Growth Skills Assist; providing free training to equip leadership teams with the skills required to achieve their growth goals.
  • GrowthAccelerator; delivered in Lancashire by Winning Pitch; the national programme of coaching and advice for high-growth businesses.
  • Access to Finance; helping business owners to identify and access the right type of funding to deliver their growth aspirations.
  • Growth Grants; non-repayable grants of between £5,000 and £1m to help businesses grow, delivered by Regenerate Pennine Lancashire.

Businesses can sign up to the programme through our online form or call 0800 488 0057.

Andy Walker is head of business growth and innovation for Lancashire County Council’s economic development service

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