It feels fitting that hope arrives with the spring. With the daffodils opening and the vaccine rolling out, we can all finally look forward to brighter days. But, now more than ever, we could also do with a little help.
Gloucestershire’s business community needn’t look far, though, as The Growth Hub has been a proving ground for more than 6,000 county businesses so far - and used its advice, events, workshops, resources, and friendly, free guidance to hurdle their obstacles.
And as the world begins to open up again, The Growth Hub’s new mantra, being shouted out from all 40 of its business support centres across Gloucestershire, is this: build back better.
In Gloucester, Cirencester, Tewkesbury, Stroud, every county council library (and shortly in Cheltenham and the Forest of Dean too) businesses can access the kind of expertise they might have presumed they would have had to pay for.
About the experts
Andy Kime is a career corporate banker, with 25-plus years of service helping growth businesses manage their money. More used to juggling a portfolio of 120 customers on a ramrod schedule, now he gives clients his time, energy, insider knowledge of the banking world, and introductions to decades of relationships and connections throughout Gloucestershire. Think non-executive director, with a financial specialism.
Angela Spenley brings a heavy hitting combination of marketing, coaching, and entrepreneurial flair to bear. Utilising first-hand experience of business ownership, and second-hand of solving hundreds of her client’s challenges, Ms Spenley strikes an invaluable balance between been-there-done-that and seen-that-solved-that. Her expertise in brand building, and sales strategy makes her a formidable ally for any business with something to sell.
Peter Brown draws on 30-plus years of senior strategic roles in big business. Working at board level and international scope, Mr Brown is an operations guru with a keen eye, and a sharp grasp of commercial models in product businesses. Chances are that your operations are going to need a post-2020 update, and here is just the man.
Okay, in a nutshell, what do you do?
‘We’re business consultants, but without the price tag. That’s the only difference,’ said Andy. ‘Our remit is huge, we have flexibility and creativity to support you in the way that you need.
‘What we don’t do is praise you and tell you how well you’re doing, you have friends and family for that. We’ll drive you, challenge you, and work with you to solve the challenges both known and unknown.’
Angela said: ‘We have a three-pronged approach – we listen to what you want to achieve with your business, help you diagnose what it is you want to do, and develop a growth plan.
‘We each have experience with a diverse client base. Our aim is to bring added value – so you can make a difference to your business. We are there to help businesses raise the bar and target growth.’
Peter said: ‘We’re invested enough in your success to care, but impartial enough to challenge you.’
What experience do you bring to the table?
Peter said: ‘Between us we’ve worked across almost every sector. My own experience also includes as a commercial sales director and innovations director for an international firm in the chemical industry, but previously I ran my own business helping companies to develop multi-channel strategies both abroad and here in the UK. I also have off-shore trading expertise and experience of mergers and acquisitions.’
‘Angela draws on 101 lessons learnt from running her own business, and even more from helping clients achieve their sales and marketing goals. She’s a superb coach, working with top leaders to develop their management styles and deliver growth for their companies.’
‘Andy is the financial guru, and like Angela he offers incredible insight into what has and hasn’t worked for hundreds of his clients over the years. It’s this exposure to every shape and size of business that makes him an outstanding advisor, no matter what sector you’re in.’
How does it work?
‘We’re on-the-road. Normally, we visit business leaders in their places of work, and really get under the skin of what their challenges and objectives are. The only thing that’s changed during the past year is the setting,’ said Andy.
‘We work closely with other support providers too; local, regional, national, governmental, free, paid, affordable, expensive. We’ll always be able to point you in the direction of your answer, if between us we can’t solve it ourselves. You’ll never leave empty handed.’
Angela said: ‘Businesses are so good at hoovering up the experiences, learning and moving on. Entrepreneurs and leaders are natural multi-taskers, and while 2020 saw them pushed past their limits, they are already driving forward. We’re like an accelerant for that.
‘They’d grow without our help, but we get them there quicker, and more efficiently.
‘And as for what they get in real terms, it’s at least 12 hours of our consultancy, over whatever term is best. That might be a two-hour meeting every two months for a year, or it might be a few consecutive days of intense planning.
‘And, more often than not, in the end, it’s much more than 12 hours. We are guilty of getting attached!’
Okay, I’m interested. How do I start the conversation?
‘The three of us are only a small slice of what’s on offer at The Growth Hub. There’s something for every shape, size, and stage of business. So to determine which is right for you, there is, as always, a clever website form,’ said Peter.
‘But that’s where the robotics end. If we’re the right fit for you, we’ll arrange a meeting, discuss what you need, and start finding the solutions together.’
Angela said: ‘We have worked with amazing entrepreneurs over the past year who have pivoted without a play book, and we have helped them to diversify into different markets, to different customers with changed products and services and routes to market to grow.’
‘Whether you need to radically reinvent, or get back to winning ways, we’re here to help.'