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Take a step back: Working on the business instead of in it

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During the last few years, I have often found that I am so involved in the day-to-day management of the business that I rarely have time to step back and look at the overall plan. I have too often been a player on the pitch, rather than the coach or manager an MD should be.

Over the past three months, I completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Programme. The programme aims to help UK and US businesses grow and reach their full potential by providing assistance through education, mentoring, access to capital and business support services.

It consists of experts from Oxford, Leeds and Aston universities and other lecturers from a variety of sectors and professions. Having completed the course and spoken with others on it, we are confident it is the leading course of its kind in the country – a mini-MBA of sorts.

It takes a full three months and involves three, two-day residential sessions at Leeds and Oxford where a lot is crammed in, in a short period of time.

The experience has been functional, practical, creative and thought provoking. It systematically dissects how you want to grow and what you need to do to achieve your growth. Each module contains as little or as much detail as required.

It has resulted in us building in time at work to regularly step back and think about where we are going and make sure everyone understands, is involved and contributes along the way.

The group on the course had many shared characteristics. We were all running our own businesses across a range of sectors and all facing similar challenges, while scaling for growth. I met a number of people I know I will stay in touch with. One of the key challenges across the group was HR.

Finding the right people can transform a business the wrong ones can be costly in a number of ways. The course is built around developing a tailored business plan for your business and culminates in everyone presenting their plans to the group.

One of the companies, a recruitment company called Niyaa People, is focused on recruitment for its own business. They estimate they need to interview 41 people to find the right candidate for their own business.

One of the most exciting parts of the programme is that when you complete the course, you join the alumni. In the UK that is a network of 1,400+ MDs who all support each other on their journey.

There are various criteria for business owners to meet should they want to apply but I would urge people to check if they qualify as the experience was invaluable.

At the end of the course everyone was energised and excited to get stuck in. We have made the decision to invest in our growth and to raise some capital to support our objectives. Right now, we are very excited about where we are going.

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