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When we encounter problems in life, we very often turn to the people around us for their view of the situation. It’s the same in business. We consult with colleagues and business contacts for their take on the subject and very often feel a better as a result of sharing and discussing.

The problem is that fresh perspective isn’t always as objective as you would like it to be. Often you’re asking someone who is as emotionally involved in the business as you are, or perhaps someone who is keen to agree with you and not rock the boat.

This is where the experience and expertise of someone outside the business, who has sufficient distance from day-to-day struggles, and whose mind isn’t clouded by a financial stake in the company, can be invaluable. Many will turn to a non-executive director or a mentor for advice.

In previous blogs I have talked about the way many of our Boost programmes have been designed to offer this outsider’s perspective on the business, matching growing businesses with experienced mentors, growth coaches or peers who can offer that fresh pair of eyes.

Looking at the bigger picture

In all the work we have done so far with Boost, the most positive feedback we have received is from business owners who have talked glowingly about how this outsider’s view has helped them step back and chart a better path to growth.

This might include specialist knowledge, for example someone who understands funding and finance options for business, skills development, and the opportunity to network with other growth hungry businesses tackling similar challenges.

Some of our testimonials from those who have been on Boost programmes talk about this:

“You are working with others to enable some really serious thinking about your own skills and the future direction of your business…you have to be able to step away from the ‘day-to-day’ of the business to be able to truly reflect and plan for the future.” Mark Keating, director Shadowcat Systems. Completed the Lancashire Forum programme delivered by Lancaster University

“I was matched with Carl Bradshaw – an experienced business mentor and entrepreneur. Carl gave us the confidence to go for a full market launch. His knowledge and experience have enabled him to enhance our chances of success. We owe a debt of thanks to Carl and are delighted with his contribution.” John Leigh, sales and marketing director, CCS (2002) Ltd. Accessed the Growth Mentoring programme delivered by Community & Business Partners

How to access support through Boost Business Lancashire

So far more than 1,000 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 LancasterUniversity.
  • 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 the website www.boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk 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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