January saw the launch by Worcestershire County & District Councils of a new ERDF Business Support Programme with a difference.
The Elevate Programme is aimed at established SME’s that have great potential for significant growth through improved processes, enhanced skills and increased productivity.
To launch the programme WCC joined forces with Worcestershire Business Central to present an inspiring and motivational Growth Challenge led by Mark Wright, winner of the BBC The Apprentice 2014. Established with Sir Alan Sugar 5 years ago, Mark’s Search Engine Optimisation business, Climb Online, has grown to employ 35 people, achieve a £5m turnover and won the Entrepreneur’s Team of the Year in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2018. Marks personal story and his infectious enthusiasm and passion for business was inspiring and amusing! Mark shared the lessons he had learnt in building his business and highlighted vital tools on which to focus for successful growth.
Mark then joined the delegates to help facilitate a series of roundtable practical and topical discussions and self-assessment led by local business specialist, BizSmart.
At the end of the morning the delegates were introduced to the Elevate programme, an exclusive and unique offer for successful applicants to gain high quality, specialist growth support. The current offer through Elevate is a mix of 1:1 bespoke support, key subject workshops and peer to peer working plus 3 planning days where business owners can bring their whole management teams for a leadership briefing and growth development session. On completing the programme SMEs will be able to apply for grant funding to continue their growth journey and will become Growth Champions for both the programme and the county.
Before the closing lunch Mark reflected on the morning saying;
‘The business owners here are really invested in being the best versions of themselves, some of the stories I have heard about where people really want to go with their businesses are unbelievable. In business we all face the same challenges and we are looking for help and guidance. It is amazing to see what has been put together for the businesses in Worcestershire – it has been a real eye opener for me.’
Elevate will run until September 2022 and will commence with this offer for the wider B2B business community however, over the course of the programme specialised support offers for specific key sectors such as Manufacturing and technology, will be developed and rolled out.