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Dr Oxborrow’s 5 tips for training business leaders to grow their businesses sustainably

Dr Lynn Oxborrow, Associate Professor in Management at Nottingham Business School and Programme Director of their Help to Grow: Management course
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With the #COP26 climate conference well underway in Glasgow, it is clear we all have to do our bit to help the UK achieve its goal of being net zero by 2050. 

To be successful in the future, Britain’s brightest and best business leaders will need to have sustainability at the heart of their businesses as they create growth. 

That is why sustainability features in the content of the Help to Grow: Management course, which has been created to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) grow post pandemic, with invaluable advice on how to reach new customers and boost profits.

Dr Lynn Oxborrow, Associate Professor in Management at Nottingham Business School and Programme Director of the Help to Grow: Management course at the school, was involved in sustainability’s inclusion in the course.

A researcher and teacher of sustainable fashion and sustainable supply chain management, Lynn explained:

“Addressing the climate crisis is essential and everyone needs to do their bit.

“SMEs can play a big role here, as introducing sustainable innovations and practices not only helps to reduce carbon emissions, it can also have a really positive impact on business competitiveness.

“This could include everything from cost savings and improved efficiency to winning new business, carving out a niche, and retaining employees – the benefits have a real impact on productivity and innovation for forward thinking SMEs.”

Aimed at small and medium-sized businesses in the UK that employ between 5 and 249 employees, the Help to Grow: Management course is delivered by leading business schools from across the UK.

The course is worth £7,110 per participant but is 90% subsidized by the government, meaning business leaders pay just £750 for tailored, high-quality business advice.

Business leaders can benefit from 50 hours of in-depth training, one-to-one business mentoring, and the opportunity to grow their business, fast. They can take part around existing work commitments and access learning through a blend of online and face-to-face sessions.

The course covers financial management, strategies for growth and innovation, digital adoption and responsible business practices. It features inspirational business leaders and the opportunity to learn alongside local peers, with access to a national alumni network.

A recent survey of small businesses, carried out by the British Business Bank, revealed last month collectively small businesses account for around half (43-53%) of UK business greenhouse gas emissions.

However, it also showed 94% of businesses questioned had taken at least one action to reduce their emissions.

And to help businesses start their net zero journey, Dr Oxborrow has produced five tips on business sustainability:

Five tips for business leaders to help grow their business sustainably

1. Understand your carbon footprint and how making changes could benefit your business

Could reducing energy, water use or waste reduce your costs? Or could adopting more sustainable products or services add value for your customers and help to engage your staff?

Reflect on and rethink your energy use and where it comes from. Consider the energy used for machinery, lighting and heating but don’t forget what you use to cool your server, store data and send emails too.

2. Adopt technologies that can help you to reduce your carbon footprint

Using MS Teams, Zoom or a similar platform could mean fewer routine visits to customers. Sensors that switch off the lights when you leave could reduce your energy use. You could also use technology to monitor your carbon footprint and measure the improvements you make.

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3. Rethink your business values

Look at how changes you make could reflect positively in your external and internal branding and communications. You need to be genuine and include the tangible things you’re doing to make a difference. Innovations in your product, changes to your supply chain, doing more with fewer resources need to be shared with staff, customers and stakeholders.

4. Get your team onside

Making a positive difference can have a beneficial effect on staff morale, wellbeing, motivation, staff retention and productivity. Getting everyone involved in making changes such as cycling to work, introducing a recycling scheme, reducing food waste in catering outlets, and turning down the heating, could make a big difference to the team and make sure your initiatives are a success.

5. Plan for the long term and make your product or service more innovative

Plan for carbon reduction, targeting the easiest, most accessible changes first, and then move onto longer term actions that might require more knowledge and investment, but which could also have the biggest impact on your business and the environment.

Introducing sustainable or recycled materials, and reducing packaging could cut materials usage, reduce logistics costs and create added customer interest. These innovations could help differentiate your business from your competitors.

Anne Kiem OBE, Executive Director, Small Business Charter and Chief Executive, Chartered Association of Business Schools, said:

“Business schools support many thousands of small and medium sized businesses to address pressing issues they face, including growing their businesses in sustainable ways.

“The expertise in the UK’s business schools is world-leading and based on real-life practice. All of the business schools delivering the Help to Grow: Management Course have been accredited by the Small Business Charter – an assessment led by small business leaders themselves.”

The Help to Grow: Management course is open at business schools across the UK. To find out more visit the Help to Grow website.


Business Secretary calls on entrepreneurs to sign up for new course to hone their expertise 

11th August 2021: Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng (@KwasiKwarteng) today (11 Aug) visited Brunel University Business School (@brunelbusiness) to meet businesses enrolled on the government’s new Help to Grow: Management course, helping them to level up the way they do business.

The Business Secretary joined a session with local business owners and expert business lecturers to learn more about the value of the programme and the opportunities available to these businesses.

Brunel is one of several leading business schools across the UK offering the government-backed management course to ambitious entrepreneurs.

The Help to Grow: Management programme combines a practical curriculum with 1:1 support from a business mentor, peer-learning sessions and an alumni network. It helps business leaders develop their strategic skills, create jobs and boost their business performance.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

UK businesses are global leaders in creativity and innovation, and Government is here to support SMEs to seize every opportunity to grow.

Help to Grow: Management is a fantastic scheme to equip ambitious business leaders with the tools to take their business to the next level, helping create an even more high-productivity, high-wage economy we build back better from the pandemic.

Dean of Brunel Business School Professor Jane Hendy said:

At Brunel Business School, we are pleased to once again be part of national efforts to support small and medium-sized businesses looking to boost their performance, resilience and long-term growth as they recover from the effects of the pandemic.

This programme drew on ground-breaking business theory and cutting-edge business know-how to enabling CEOs, directors and managers in SMEs to develop their business for growth.

Furthering our commitment to support local businesses, we’re here to help businesses keep going, keep gaining and keep growing.

Help to Grow: Management offers a 12 week-programme delivered by leading business schools across the UK and accredited by the Small Business Charter.

Designed to be manageable alongside full-time work, this programme will support small business leaders with key modules covering financial management, innovation and digital adoption. By the end of the programme participants will develop a tailored business growth plan to lead their business to its full potential.

Chartered Association of Business Schools CEO Anne Kiem OBE said:

As we continue to grapple with the coronavirus crisis it is also essential we look long term to ensure small businesses are supported to build resilience, survival and growth.

Business schools can provide the expertise and knowledge all business owners and directors need to continue to thrive in uncertain times.

Course participant Rikesh Kothari, Director of Prowise Healthcare Ltd, said:

I’m excited to have secured a place on the programme at Brunel as I believe it will enhance my management and strategic capabilities. I am attracted by the course modules, particularly those on innovation and digital adoption, and I believe the case study on growth and expansion will help me take my business to the next level.

I am also looking forward to connecting with other businesses and other like-minded people in our industry for further expansion.

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