Yesterday I attended a government backed free ‘Advanced Business Strategy Workshop ‘ – 1/2 day course at Inspire (previously Wessex Chambers of Commerce) in Trowbridge.
The venue was one of a non-descript building nestled in amongst a trading estate; the venue offered adequate training facilities, along with the ability for local start-up businesses to rent a table with Wi-Fi etc. to offices with facilities that are looking to grow a venture.
The Strategic Workshop
The event aimed to:
- Enable attendees to review and enhance your Business Strategy.
- Provide clarity on attendees Sustainable Competitive Advantage/USP.
- Enable attendees to review their businesses Vision and articulate a long-term succession/exit route planning.
- Provide focus on competitor analysis and benchmarking.
- Provide a brief insight into social media, the power of effective networks and lasting relationships.
After an introduction from Rob Perks, the CEO of Inspire, Ian Lloyd of Milsted Langdon, a ‘Partner’ business member of Inspire, conducted the session. His straight forward approach fitted well with the audience: new start-ups, Smalls businesses and those looking to grow their SME. It was well attended, even oversubscribed; something which is hard to replicate nationally so I understand.
General discussion was interesting with local businesses talking through their business issues and opportunities. One thing that was very evident ‘was how positive those attending were’, in light of the recent Brexit vote. Almost all those I spoke with had taken the position that ‘the decision has been made, so we better get on with it’. Quite refreshing, as you could easily be forgiven for thinking that the business world is in total confusion over the whole affair, it seems that this is simply not the case.
The training/workshop introduced attendees to a set of tools aimed at getting you to think about the business long-term including the company vision, one page strategic plan, SCA tools, benchmarking and engaging with customers.
It is important to understand that this was a half day workshop designed to explain how you get to the answers, not to directly facilitate the process of doing so; however, I witnessed a number of business men and women ‘light bulb’ moments being triggered through informal discussion with likeminded business people.
The tools being introduced were just that – ‘an introduction’ – you could easily spend days on formulating a good one pager strategy plan; this time was obviously not available. That said, Ian did a good job of showing the benefits of having one and why it can make a business more productive; many commented “we have some homework to do when we get back” genuinely enthused at the opportunity of reengineering their businesses direction.
The good old term, taking time to work ‘ON’ the business ‘NOT’ in it was ever present, and for those attending taking the time to think about the ‘Why’ they do it was a useful and potentially business changing approach.
‘All in all’ a successful workshop session.
Upon reflection, I enjoyed the day and met some truly genuine business people at various stages of their company life’s cycle. They were optimistic about the future and were engaged in the process of improving their business’s performance. What really struck home was the impact such a short introduction to strategic business tools can do to inspire (pardon the pun) individuals to consider their business’s proposition and effect positive change.
As you will be aware, if you have read any of my previous blogs, I am an ambassador of keeping things simple in business, and this exposure has reinforced this opinion; add to this the opportunity to be part of the Inspire community for as little as £30 a month and you can see why these type of networks have stood the test of time.
That said, over the next few years Inspire (and networks just like them i.e. chamber of commerce etc.) are set to lose this type of funding; a real shame; however, the organisation is in the process of reinventing itself, looking for ways to finance itself and support businesses throughout Swindon and Wiltshire.
I would suggest that SME organisations take Inspire up on workshop/courses and take advantage of the benefits of being part of such a business network.
Food for thought…
Who knows, with Theresa May now at the helm, previous decisions to remove funding might change? Time will tell…But in the interim, Inspire has plans to evolve and deliver additional critical support to the business community. I wish them well.
Link to the Inspire website:
*All comments are based on my personal experiences and given freely. That said, you need to make your own choices. I can’t and won’t accept liability for you employing any recommendations. Business is all about risk. It’s your choice.
Nigel stone has, over the last fifteen years, started, led, consulted and nurtured both UK and European businesses to achieve quite outstanding results. Please feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org