Finding the Right Business Development Advice

Thu, October 12th, 2017

A common issue for SMEs is finding the time to plan for business development.

A common issue for SMEs is finding the time to plan for business development. Andy MacGregor, local business owner and founder of telephone answering service Face for Business, offers some growth advice to small businesses in the Merseyside area.

As a provider of telephone answering services, I’m in a unique position to see first-hand how a wide range of businesses operate. If you asked our clients the key reason they use our service, they would say to free up time to do more important work, such as growing the business.

Perhaps because of this, myself and the PAs are often asked questions about business development. These range across financing growth, recruiting and training staff, tax issues and, of course, developing new business. What’s often clear are the difficulties that busy people running smaller organisations have in allocating time to plan for growth.

I know from my own experiences that business or employee development can easily be pushed to the bottom of the pile in a busy working environment. And finding the right advice can be a long and convoluted process.

Let’s start with the assumption that most small businesses have a pretty clear idea of where they’d like to be. What’s important is developing a business case that plots the steps along the way and how, as a growing business, you find the right advice to put this in place.

Choosing the Right Advice

As my businesses have grown, the benefit of advice from a wide range of sources has been invaluable. There’s a wealth of information out there, but having time to filter what is useful can be time consuming and frustrating. That’s why getting the right advice at an early stage is vital.

So where do you find this advice? Well, I like to start close to home. In my experience, the best people to get insights from are those working in similar fields, or those who may have faced similar development issues.

It may seem obvious, but local networking is a fantastic way to gain insights. I’ve been a member of the Liverpool and Sefton Chamber of Commerce for many years. Not only does it help develop leads for my business, but I’ve spent a great deal of productive time discussing issues around growth with like-minded people. The chamber also offer a range of training and development courses, and business support and mentoring services.

BNI is also another great networking organisation, and a good place to swap ideas and gain insights. Although some businesses may baulk at the annual subscription costs, my experience has been that the outlay pales in comparison to the new business generated and essential knowledge gained.

Feedback from staff and customers can also provide invaluable insights. Scheduling regular development meetings creates a more open and honest working environment where staff are more engaged in the business. I’m a firm believer in business agility, and the ability of the business to respond to changes in the internal and external environment. Staff input is core to this, and an area that’s easily overlooked in a busy workplace.

As a critical part of business development, understanding what financing is available and its long-term implications is probably one of the most difficult areas. When putting together a business case it’s essential to get independent advice, whether that’s through a trusted accountant, financial advisor, or another source.

The Local Growth Hub is a good place to start for experienced, independent and free advice. The Liverpool City Region’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), provides businesses of all sizes access to mentoring, product development, leadership development and finance. The service offers specialist business mentoring to help develop a strong business case and understand what type of financing will suit your business.

Although this article only scratches the surface, hopefully it will provide some insight into some of the steps to take along the way. To help we’ve put together a webpage of links and information on local resources for business mentoring, financing, training, recruitment and networking. Visit the page here

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