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News SMEs receive support to survive and thrive beyond the pandemic

Business owners and senior managers have embarked on a free ten-week programme which will help them bounce back from the impact of coronavirus

Senior Lecturer Tanya Hemphill has joined the team providing expert support to SMEs
Image: Senior Lecturer Tanya Hemphill has joined the team providing expert support to SMEs

One of the strengths is our use of Entrepreneurs in Residence alongside academics from the Business School. Our entrepreneurs have vast experience of running their own small businesses and have first-hand knowledge of what businesses are going through.

Professor John Fairburn

The government-funded Small Business Leadership Programme is being delivered online by Staffordshire Business School to develop stronger leadership, innovation, operational efficiency, marketing and finance.

Staffordshire Business School will have helped 70 businesses by the end of March and businesses who have already completed the programme have reported feeling better equipped to deal with the challenges they face.

Geoff Barton, General Manager of Canalside Farm in Great Haywood near Stafford said: “It's allowed me to connect with other businesses, and I've learned much and managed to strengthen a few knowledge gaps and boost my handling of the business during these unique times.”

And Grace Shiel, Sales Director of Minuteman Press in Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent added: “The Small Business Leadership programme has really helped my business by giving us the tools to think differently in what has become a very challenging environment. We were given access to knowledge and information in a supported environment which has enabled us to consider what is working, what needs to change and how we can improve.

The programme was announced as part of a £20m support package for small businesses and is being delivered nationally by business schools accredited by the Small Business Charter.

Staffordshire University Professor Jon Fairburn, who is leading the programme in Staffordshire and the North West, said: “One of the strengths is our use of Entrepreneurs in Residence alongside academics from the Business School. Our entrepreneurs have vast experience of running their own small businesses and have first-hand knowledge of what businesses are going through.”

Entrepreneur in Residence Emily Whitehead, a business coach and founder of Simply Great Britain, added: “The businesses are also learning from each other, as we are also running peer sessions as part of the programme. Of critical importance to many is to keep communicating with customers during the pandemic, and we have been upskilling their knowledge of digital marketing techniques.”

The programme team has recently been boosted by Senior Lecturer Tanya Hemphill, an expert in ecommerce and growth marketing. Like the Entrepreneurs in Residence, Tanya also has an industry background, having set up and run her own award-winning PR agency, an ecommerce company and a local lifestyle magazine.

Tanya said: “I’m delighted to join the other business experts running the programme, to be able to provide specialist digital marketing advice to business people who are having to digitally transform their companies because of the pandemic.”

Staffordshire University has developed a free triage support service to support businesses through the pandemic and to support employees in transitioning into new careers or Higher Education. Anyone wanting more information on the help available, can contact our Employer Partnerships team by emailing employers@staffs.ac.uk.

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