Government sponsored schemes usually leave me cold. Over the years my path has crossed with various Business Links and Regional Development Agencies and I have always been frustrated with the process and underwhelmed with the end result.
So, when someone suggested that I take a look at Growth Accelerator, I didn’t hold out much hope. This is a government sponsored programme designed to help small and medium sized enterprises achieve rapid growth as the engine of the UK economy.
rbl has grown a lot in the past three years and we have ambitious plans for the future. But I knew that I could do with some help getting a plan down on paper, involving my whole team in the process and engaging people with the change that would inevitably be needed.
Curiosity got the better of me and I applied online to join the scheme. I managed to stick with the programme while the Growth Accelerator Account Manager got me to fill in forms, read documents, sign contracts and agree to meet the business coach he recommended. We had to cough up a bit of money too, but worth every penny.
Over the past three months rbl has worked with Karen Nicholls who is a freelance coach on the Growth Accelerator programme and she has worked wonders. She deserves a medal just for putting up with me! Within a few short months we now have a documented business plan, clear targets, ownership for actions, measures of success and buy in at every level. It’s been eye opening, thoughtful, challenging and inspiring.
I opted Harriet and Ali on to the team as Karen guided us through a structured business planning process. We used some simple tools, but what really mattered was that Karen made us do it and helped us through all the critical decisions! This was a real learning curve for Ali and Harriet and they got so much out of it. They have been trusted and involved at every step and, as a result, it’s our plan, not hers. Note ‘our’ plan, not ‘Rebecca’s’ plan. Big difference.
As a consultant that hasn’t previously valued other consultants very highly, I have learned some valuable lessons:
- bringing someone else in to run the process will ensure it actually happens
- letting someone else take the lead, frees you up to focus on the outcomes
- don’t ever think you know it all
- involving the rest of the team develops trust, improves understanding and creates ownership
- no tool is perfect, it’s the quality of the debate that matters
- having a simple plan and taking the time to explain it to others is vital
- the end result is clarity, commitment and focus
And all this goes to prove that old dogs can learn new tricks!
Thank you Growth Accelerator and thank you Karen.