The Small Business Leadership Programme – helping businesses adapt, grow and thrive

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Anne Kiem, Chief Executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, explains why a new Small Business Leadership programme could be just the tonic for small and medium sized businesses across the UK.

There is no doubt of the difficulties facing SMEs as they try and work through a second national lockdown and contend with the ongoing roller-coaster of challenges that this year has thrown at them. These are problems that show little sign of being alleviated and every sign of increasing, not least with the inevitable disruption and challenges that the end of the Brexit transition period is likely to bring from 1 January 2021.

Against this backdrop, some small businesses may feel a sense of helplessness but there’s no need to lose hope. By taking a step back for even a small amount time, to think about the business and reflect on what can be changed to help navigate this period, businesses can and will survive.

For small businesses, there has never been a more pertinent time for leaders and experts to come together to share skills, expertise, and experiences. Together, we can help SMEs get through this second national lockdown and prepare to thrive in the years ahead.

It is with this aim in mind that the Small Business Charter has created the Small Business Leadership Programme. Free to participants thanks to funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the programme will support senior leaders to enhance their business’s resilience and recovery from the impact of COVID-19, and help develop their potential for future growth. 

The entry criteria are simple, participants must be in a senior management role at a UK-based small business, with between 5 and 249 employees, that has been operating for at least a year.

Delivered by British business schools who have received Small Business Charter accreditation, the fully funded programme will last ten weeks, consisting of eight 90-minute interactive webinars exploring a range of practical topics from employee engagement and identifying new markets to managing finance and building customer relationships. 

The programme also provides a space for small businesses to network with other local companies. The chance for business leaders to talk to others in the same position, facing similar challenges, is more valuable now than ever, especially given the ban on face-to-face events and training which has limited such opportunities. By speaking to other local business leaders, SME owners and directors may feel less alone in their struggles and able to learn from one another. 

One example of a company already being helped is Advanced Journey Chauffeuring, an executive transport company who are currently participating in the programme at Staffordshire Business School.

The hospitality and entertainment industries that typically formed the business’s main income sources have been shut down, but experts at Staffordshire Business School helped the company change its focus to corporate travel. Following the advice of the business school’s staff, the company revamped its social media, and has already attracted new corporate clients as a result. 

This is just one example, there are many more. Its broad nature and appeal means that the programme may be ideal for a range of small accountancy firms and even more so for their SME clients across a range of sectors. 

There is no doubt that times are hard for small businesses across the UK and will probably be so for some time to come, but by participating in programmes such as this, businesses will increase their chances of being able to not just survive but adapt, grow and thrive. 

To find out more and apply, please visit the Small Business Charter’s website:

Anne Kiem is Chief Executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools.

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