The government has launched two training programmes designed to improve small business leadership and problem-solving skills in the wake of coronavirus.
The government has invested £20 million in the programmes as part of its support for small firms during the COVID-19 crisis. Small business leaders are being urged to take advantage of the training to help their firms survive and thrive as they respond to the challenges thrown up by the pandemic.
The Small Business Leadership Programme focuses on strengthening decision-makers' leadership skills, so they are able to address management challenges, some of which, such as remote working, have arisen from coronavirus. The programme will equip business leaders with the skills to plan for the future of their business and to ensure their recovery.
The ten-week programme - which will be delivered virtually by experts from university business schools - will teach participants how to improve productivity, organisation and efficiency. Businesses will undertake a series of 90-minute webinars delivered by leading business experts, and will also be required to complete up to two hours of independent study and peer-supported learning per week.
In addition, the Peer Networks Programme will help business owners to improve their problem-solving skills, through a series of guided exercises. Participants will take part in sessions where common coronavirus-related business challenges will be discussed, such as finding new customers and using technology to adapt a business model. Members of the programme will be given skills in areas such as leadership, management, sales and marketing.
Anne Kiem, ceo of Chartered Association of Business Schools and executive director of the Small Business Charter, said: "While cash injections are important, for the long-term, business leaders need the skills to ensure they and their businesses are resilient and can grow throughout this period and beyond. Accessing experts from the world-leading business schools we have in this country will be an essential resource for businesses in the months and years to come."
Mark Bretton, LEP network chair, said: "As business-led Local Enterprise Partnerships with 330 business leaders on our boards, we know the positive impact that proven business leadership and exceptional management skills can have on a business, especially as they face the challenges of COVID-19. But not all businesses have ready access to that level of leadership; the Peer Networks offers them that ready access for free just when they need it most."
He added: "The Peer Networks project could make all the difference to the survival of a business and boost their bottom line. The expert knowledge and leadership delivered through the 38 LEP Growth Hubs across the country will be the key to its success; allowing businesses to feed off each other's knowledge can inspire them to adopt new practices and embed new approaches that could be a game changer."
Written by Rachel Miller.