To help some of Yorkshire and the Humber's young business-owners rise to the challenge, Leeds University Business School (LUBS) teamed up with investment bank Goldman Sachs and Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, to launch a programme, called 10,000 Small Businesses.
Based on a successful model that Goldman Sachs currently runs in the US, 10,000 Small Businesses offers the opportunity for owners of small businesses and social enterprises with high growth potential to engage with today's leading entrepreneurs and academic business specialists.
The overall goal of the programme is to give promising businesses the tools and the networks they need for growth, to help unlock their economic growth and job-creation potential. Rob Whieldon (Director of Corporate Development for Leeds University Business School) said: "Working with the imported curriculum we have used our research on how small businesses learn to inform the way we deliver the programme."
Deepak Jayaraman, head of corporate engagement for Goldman Sachs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) explains: "We started with a model that had been imported from the US, and our Leeds partners were instrumental in tailoring that model into something that is unique and suitable for the local business environment. The model we have created is proving successful and we are now looking to expand this approach to other cities across the UK."
"We have forged a fantastic partnership with Leeds: the academics and administrators have been incredibly flexible, easy to work with and innovative in their approach. The fantastic content facilitation by Professor Nigel Lockett and Programme Director Jacinta Elliot has been tremendous for our cohorts," he added.
Applicants went through a rigorous selection process to gain a place on the pilot course, which took place over 12 curriculum sessions, starting in October 2010. In addition, Goldman Sachs offered a number of business support services, including specialist workshops where particular topics could be discussed in more detail, one-to-one business advising, and advice in accessing capital. After course participants had graduated, they were given opportunity to take part in further networking and mentoring activities.
Rob Whieldon commented: "It has been a pleasure working with Goldman Sachs to bring this programme to Leeds University Business School and to see how the businesses on the programme have grown and developed"
One of the course's first participants, Tom Greveson, who runs digital media company, Revolution Viewing, considers himself very fortunate to have been included in the first Goldman Sachs cohort:
"I really wanted to be involved in the programme because I wanted the chance to speak to successful people from industry who had started businesses from nothing and created something quite impressive, as well as eminent academics who could explain current thinking on business models and practices," he says.
Once admitted onto the course, Tom found the opportunity to refresh and enhance his knowledge of key aspects of business was very valuable. Particularly useful was the opportunity to discuss 'real life' business issues, challenges and opportunities in smaller groups.
"We ran a very diverse set of businesses, including a small brewery, and Indian restaurant chain, as well as a software developer and my own digital media company and were able to discuss lots of aspects of our businesses in a very relaxed and informal way. This part of the course was one of the most valuable, in fact, as it really helped me to clarify key aspects of my business and its parent company and to develop new systems and approaches."
Now a 10,000 Small Businesses alumnus, Tom continues to derive benefits both from what he learned during the course and from the networks he was able to access.
Find out more on the Leeds University Business School website