In a nutshell, Growth Hubs are organisations backed by investment from the public sector and led by their Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) (...more on them in a moment!). They’re open to all businesses and were set up to provide help, advice and support for their members.
They first started appearing in England in 2014. And since then, the Growth Hub network has grown into 38 different bodies covering the whole of England.
FYI – If you’re in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, there's alternative support available, provided by local government, but this doesn’t fall under the Growth Hub network.
The idea behind them is simple... because they're locally run and brimming with local knowledge and expertise, they are uniquely placed to help businesses get whatever extra support they may need.
Meanwhile, LEPs work to recognise the challenges and opportunities for businesses in their areas; they're made up of individuals with excellent business experience and local knowledge, with a desire to improve the landscape for businesses in their region.
But, if you’re an aspiring business owner or you’re already trading, then the only thing you really need to know is that growth hubs are there to help people just like you!
Regardless of age, scale or revenue, your local Growth Hub can connect you with other organisations – be they local or national, public or private – from universities and enterprise zones to banks and Chambers of Commerce and offer support, advice and direction to put you on a path for further growth.
Joining a Growth Hub
Joining your local Growth Hub couldn’t be simpler – as long as you’re living or trading in the area that they serve, there’s no barrier to entry. Just find them online and sign up to begin browsing some of what they have to offer, including business support programmes, free resource materials and local events hosted by, and for, the business community.
Each Growth Hub is different and, because they’re independent and their experts and members are drawn from the local area, exactly what help they offer will differ from place to place. Some will offer more programmes and advice tailored to different industries, while others will be able to access different funding or partnering opportunities.
But whatever your business specialises in, your local Growth Hub should have a good understanding of what opportunities are available to you. Whether you’re looking for support or guidance, it’s worth getting in touch with them to discuss how they may be able to help.
Once you get in touch with your local Growth Hub, you’ll be assigned a business advisor who'll work with you to discuss your needs and requirements. Your advisor can then make recommendations about other organisations you may wish to speak to, programmes or events that may interest you or funding opportunities you may be eligible for.
Business growth strategies
SMEs face lots of challenges, more so than ever these days, where competition is fierce and uncertainty abounds. So, Growth Hubs serve an important purpose, particularly when it comes to some of the major obstacles to growth for SMEs, such as difficulty reaching new customers and markets and finding the right skills and labour.
So, how can Growth Hubs help you shape your strategy?
- Finding new markets in the UK
Growing your business into a local force that’s ready to make the move into neighbouring markets before going national, is bread and butter for Growth Hubs. One of the main reasons they were set up in the first place was to provide a link between local and national business support.
Furthermore, the relationships with other local businesses and organisations are all great tools to help raise your profile locally and find more customers for your products and services.
- Accessing new markets abroad
While the number of SMEs sending their wares abroad is on the rise, there’s still a significant number who are yet to embrace the opportunities exporting can offer.
Of course, no one can just set up an exporting operation overnight, much less a successful one. It takes a lot of thorough research and planning, not to mention financing and complying with the law both here and abroad. And, that’s before we get into all the other risks associated with doing business in unfamiliar climes.
But, for those businesses that can make a success of it, the rewards can be huge and your local Growth Hub is a great place to start looking for the help and support you may need.
- Growing your team and learning new skills.
Hiring the right people for your business is essential. Whether you’re a sole trader looking for employees or freelancers or an established business looking for extra hands to boost your productivity, finding people with the right skills and experience can be a challenge.
And, as your business starts to grow and you’re looking to build on that growth, sometimes small businesses can find themselves with a bit of a skills gap as they look at which way to leap and capitalise on the next opportunity.
Fortunately, Growth Hub members can get a helping hand through their relationships with other local organisations, their knowledge of available hiring incentives, training programmes and calendars of talks and networking events.
Tips for growing your business
It’s all well and good making strategies for growth, but have you thought about what you’re going to do when those plans come into fruition? Here are some more business growth tips:
- Plan for growth – All businesses should have a business growth plan. Once you’ve got your business up and running, this is your blueprint to keep making gains and capitalising on your success. Your Growth Hub advisor should be able to help you get one together, or put you in touch with someone who can.
- Work with a mentor – Business mentors are experienced professionals with a wealth of knowledge and contacts. You can find free and paid-for mentors yourself online. Alternatively, your local Growth Hub may be able to help pair you with the right mentor, who can offer the skills and support you need to grow your business.
- Invest in new technology – Whether you’re after new equipment or software, technology is fast becoming a major focus of investment for companies looking to grow. Whether it’s to help boost productivity, allow employees to cover more ground or investing in software-as-a-service solutions – like Farillio ; ) – that give you some precious peace of mind.
- Improve and/or develop your products and services – If you want to keep on growing, one thing you won’t be able to do without is customers. Not only will you want to keep the ones you have, but you’ll have to go out there and try to find more as well. One of the best ways to do this is to keep on improving your offerings for your existing customers and developing new products and services to entice new ones as well. So, talk to your customers and don’t be afraid to make changes based on their feedback. Breathe new life into your products and services, particularly those that may be nearing the end of their lifespan. And, finally, if you have one product or service that’s the cornerstone of your business, try and offer something new to offer and help lessen your dependence on your star player.
So now you have a good idea of not only what Growth Hubs are, but also how they can help your business! And if you're looking for more info on aspects of business, take a look at our resource library on Farillio – where you'll find multimedia guides, tutorials and templates on from sales strategy and marketing plans to exporting and distribution.