The big challenge for many scale-ups

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(From left to right) Mandy Paterson (Chief Operations Officer), Rob Perks (CEO), Henrietta Brown (Business Development Director)

Written by Rob Perks, CEO of business growth specialists and scale-up ambassadors Inspire

Scale-ups, or fast-growing SMEs, have a unique challenge as well as a fantastic opportunity.

They are identified by Government and many economists as the key to solving Britain’s productivity problem, as well as having the potential to be the sector that leads the economy into the fourth industrial revolution, spearheading the charge into the digital and technological transformation that is surely coming globally.

It is vital to the success of the UK economy in the coming decades for Britain to be at the forefront of this revolution.

Many of these SMEs are innovating at a much faster rate than their corporate rivals, introducing new product and service solutions to complex problems across many sectors of the economy. There is much opportunity, both for these entrepreneurs and for the wider economy.

The challenge is that many of these champions of innovation and new thinking have little experience of running a business at, say, £1m turnover or above.

They show their brilliance in coming up with new ideas and developing them into fantastic new products and services, but as their operation grows, so does their frustration as they find themselves evolving into CEOs and MDs and leaving their much preferred innovating behind as they grapple with finances, marketing, sales, and people who work for them but don’t share their enthusiasm.

So, how can this tragedy of seeing these exciting businesses crashing and burning because of a lack of business skills be avoided?

Sometimes, these innovators can acquire the skills they need to be successful business leaders. But for others, bringing in an expert business leader is the way forward.

The ScaleUp Institute has recognised this problem and is encouraging every Local Enterprise Partnership across the country to have a credible and strong scale up support programme to guide these highly important leaders through the maze of support available, help them develop a robust strategy for successful growth of the business, and create peer-to-peer groups for shared learning.

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