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Sustaining business growth

Colin Bell is the Business Growth Director at the North East LEP, working on the development of the online support platform for businesses in the North East.

Colin’s role is to develop a world class business support and finance ecosystem that enables businesses to achieve and sustain growth. At the heart of this is the North East Growth Hub which offers a comprehensive online resource for business advice, funding information, networking, news and events, created by the North East LEP.

Here, Colin offers advice to business leaders on how to take their company from its development phase to the next stage of growth.

Your business is in lift off; the orders are rolling in, you’re utilising 110% of your resources but cash is beginning to build, talent is shining through and the beginnings of a management team have begun to form. All these factors are creating ‘some’ space for you to begin to work ‘on’ rather than ‘in’ the business.

Managing growth however remains tough, requiring the investment of relentless energy – the whole experience can be overwhelming and exhausting. To prevent burn-out and to move to the next stage of growth leaders need to:

Stop doing and begin leading: This involves setting the direction and getting everyone behind delivering the plan: Your business needs direction; your people need to know ‘where next’ and what they are working towards. This requires you to align energy and resources, to make sure that the business model and all its counterparts are optimised to deliver maximum value to your customers.

Focus on developing processes and systems: Fire fighting often takes hold, resulting in tasks remaining incomplete and doing lots of things ok but nothing really well. Growth and scale therefore requires more structure.

Identify, recruit and develop talent: Your business has grown beyond you and there is a need to focus on building a team capable of propelling your business to the next level. Although some shining stars will have emerged, fundamentally the people that have got you to where you are today aren’t necessarily the people who will get you to where you want to be in the future – there is a need to assess existing skills, identify, recruit and develop talent across your business.

Trust and empower talent: This shift involves empowering others to own and be accountable for areas of the business. This involves identifying and coaching the people with the right level of capability and confidence to be delegated to.

Developing the ability in others to sell: Although you are in growth, the operational demands can mean that all hands are required to get product out the door. This can however lead to a boom and bust scenario as focus is diverted away from sales. To continue the pace of growth it’s essential that there is a continuous and finely tuned sales machine driving your business forward.

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director

Find more support and resources for businesses at the North East Growth Hub .