There was a rich vein of knowledge and excellent insights from some of the North East’s most successful entrepreneurs yesterday (6 February).
The Business Growth Workshop organised by the Chamber in partnership with Lichfields at the Crowne Plaza, Newcastle started with Business Doctors North East’s Graham Robson. His suggestions for growth included identifying your top 10 customers and work out which are the most profitable and also think about whether you can sell more to those companies.
He also urged those at the event to recruit new team members who had similar values as well as the right skills. His other advice was to ensure employers recognised and rewarded great work but commented on specific instances where it had been outstanding rather a general piece of praise.
Jonathan Walker, Chamber assistant director of policy said: “This workshop was really well received by the SME community who welcomed the advice of everything from how to access funding without too many strings, to how to get the best value from research. It was also so beneficial to hear at first hand, how our entrepreneurs built their own companies as well as praising the access to talent in our regional universities.”
The power of knowing your customer through qualitative research was set out by Dr Kirsty Lang, research and project manager at MMC Research and Marketing. Her advice included getting to know customers well and thoroughly understanding their needs can be very different things. Don’t make presumptions about their marketplace always find out the key facts about how they are perceived by their customers.
Four of the fastest growing Chamber members Bloom and Mediaworks, together with NEL Fund Managers and NE Growth Hub answered questions from the floor about their secrets for success. Answers included invest in specialists rather than generalists, as the benefits are substantial in terms of service delivery, explore the public sector as potential income stream and don’t leave it too late to ask for help.
Ross Lillico, economics director, Lichfields then outlined the knowledge to be gained from analysing geographical data. He outlined the benefits of using demographic and economic data to better understand market opportunities and plan for growth. Lichfields supported the workshop to encourage regional SME’s to scale up.
The importance of people to a business and using simple, clear language was set out by Susan Fulton, People Director, Home Group.
Closing the workshop was a panel q & a with Coleman James, Elmtronics and WordNerds. These employers shared their experiences and said it was important to get comfortable with risk as you had to go all in, if you wanted a new business to succeed. Time away from the business was invaluable to develop skills. And focus on what you are really good at rather than be a scatter-gun business, trying to cover too much ground.