Start-ups and SMEs contribute more than £473 billion to the UK economy each year. There is a whole wealth of funding and advice out there to help businesses keep that figure growing. We take a look at one of them – GrowthAccelerator – in a bit more detail to see how it can help you.
In 2013, there were 4.9 million businesses in the UK, 99% of which were small and medium enterprises. Their value to the UK has been estimated at £473 billion, which translates to a huge 49.8% of the economy . SMEs continue to be as important as ever to driving economic growth, so it is encouraging to see that, far from the recent challenging economic conditions dampening people’s appetites for running their own businesses, the opposite is actually true. Since the recession of 2008, the number of people classified as self-employed has risen by 15%. Interestingly, 60% of this increase has actually taken place even more recently – from around the middle of 2011.
Whilst the start-up rate is growing, it’s critical that the high growth potential amongst SMEs is harnessed, which is where GrowthAccelerator comes in. A partnership between Government and private sector business growth experts, GrowthAccelerator was specifically developed for ambitious businesses with the potential for growth, and offers business leaders support in the form of tailored, expert coaching. A consortium, led by Grant Thornton UK LLP, has been delivering the service since its launch in April 2012.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
SMEs looking to realise their growth potential will be assigned a growth manager, who will work with them to identify any current barriers to growth, and formulate a tailored plan to overcome these obstacles and achieve their ambitions for the business. These growth plans will typically focus on one of three areas: access to finance, business development, or growth through innovation. All three are supported by coaching, workshops and masterclasses.
Once the growth plan is agreed, the growth manager, in collaboration with the business, will select and appoint a growth coach against attributes including experience, skills and personality and relevance to the organisation. The expert network of growth coaches all have direct experience of running their own high-growth business, and their expertise spans a breadth of sectors and disciplines. This ‘matchmaking’ of a coach to a business is an especially important part of the process, as the growth coaches will work with them to deliver the growth plans, so it’s crucial that both parties get the most out of the relationship. Many businesses will deliberately select a coach with experience within their particular sector. However, many will seek out a coach who has run their own business in a completely different sector because they are keen to work with an expert who can inject a new perspective into their business. Once an appropriate coach has been chosen, a typical coaching schedule lasts around three to nine months, depending on the size of the business, growth targets, and the growth plan itself.
WHAT IMPACT DOES THE SERVICE HAVE ON BUSINESS GROWTH?
GrowthAccelerator is currently working with more than 18,000 ambitious businesses, who regularly tell us how much they value the opportunity to take a step back from the day-to-day running of their business and get an expert view on how to unlock potential. The results speak for themselves; In 2012/13 the businesses using the service grew at least four times faster than the average SME, and between April 2012 and April 2014, they generated £1.5 billion of growth (gross value added) and created 36,572 jobs.
Looking ahead, in the next three years business leaders tell us that they expect to create an additional 2.6 million jobs and each generate a £295,000 turnover increase.
These figures show that the service is well on the way to achieving its overall goal of generating £2.2 billion gross value added and creating 55,000 jobs by April 2015.
IS GROWTHACCELERATOR RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
To be eligible for GrowthAccelerator, your business must be registered in the UK and based in England, have fewer than 250 employees, and have a turnover of less than £40 million.
Not every eligible business will be suitable, as GrowthAccelerator exclusively targets high-growth businesses who want to enter their next growth phase, and have the potential and determination to get there.
If you are interested in working with GrowthAccelerator to unlock the growth potential within your business, you can call the helpline on 0844 4632995, quoting Talk Business or contact Simon Stevens on 0207 728 3298, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Source: House of Commons Library, Small business and the UK economy
 Source: European Commission, SME performance review
 Growth in this respect is measured by gross value added (GVA) which is a measure in economics of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy.
 Based on data taken from a representative sample of 476 GrowthAccelerator clients who completed their support between April 2012 and April 2014. In this period these businesses collectively generated £81.6 million in gross value added and created 1,683 jobs.