Two ways to grow your business in 2013

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High growth businesses are planning to work with like-minded peers and invest in training for staff to help their businesses grow in 2013, according to a recent survey from Growth Accelerator. Take a leaf out of their book with these top tips for small businesses.

Collaborating for growth

Collaborating with other business people can help your business to grow through increased sales and profitability, a stronger business network and access to and resources that might otherwise be too expensive. It can also help both businesses to take on larger competitors by sharing your skills and resources.

Top collaboration tips

Join professional networks to build your list of contacts and find like-minded business people to work with. Before entering into a collaboration think ‘what can each business offer each other?’ Collaborative business relationships should be mutually beneficial for everyone involved.

Have a clear agreement – depending on the level of involvement you plan on having with the other company, you may need to draw up legal documents and service level agreements.

Protect your intellectual property – make sure that all your company’s IP rights are protected by the appropriate trademarks, patents and registered designs before you potentially share them with the competition. Only give as much as you’re comfortable with – but it should be a balanced relationship, so don’t expect them to give you all their trade secrets.

Have an exit strategy – not all collaborations work out and you should know from the start what to do if either or both parties wish to end the relationship.

Investing in your staff -The benefits of training your staff are two-fold. Not only can it help your business become more efficient and faster to adapt to changing market conditions, but it can also contribute to staff retention by showing that you’re invested in your employees’ future with the company.

Training can be anything from informal, on the job training and online courses to full-time training through a local college.

Top employee training tips

Assess your needs – Before you start looking for courses, identify where there are skills gaps and which skills would to help you meet your company’s objectives. Training should be mutually beneficial to both the organisation and the employee.

Set objectives – Before you or your employees embark on any training, you first need to establish what you expect to get out of your investment. Choosing a training provider – If you can’t provide sufficient training in-house, you may need to find an external company.

Choose a training provider with experience of your type of business and make sure that they understand your objectives. Overall, the course should represent good value for money.

Ask to be put in touch with satisfied participants or testimonials, or ask for recommendations from the provider.

Find funding – Whilst grants have become harder to find, some public funding is still available for small businesses. You can search for them via the Business Link Support Finder. There is also additional help for businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Your training provider may be able to help you find funding. Always measure the results of the training – did it meet its objectives? Did the employee find it useful? This can help you to plan any training for the future.

For advice on growing your business call us now on 0845 130 1722 to find out how the Forum can help.