Goldman Sachs Small Business Growth Programme

Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassador Roland Seddon, owner of MRK Associates,  recently completed a prestigious Goldman Sachs business growth programme – he gives us the low down on what the course has meant to him and his business…

I recently completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Growth Programme which I can’t rate highly enough in what it has given me as the owner of a small business locally.

I suppose I should start by explaining what the course is about so people can quickly understand whether this article is worth reading any further!

The programme has been put together as a philanthropic initiative within Goldman Sachs to give back and support SME businesses in the UK and US. The course is aimed to help entrepreneurial businesses create jobs and economic opportunity by providing access to education and business support services. In Lehmann’s terms, the course is delivered in association with Oxford University and other universities who deliver weekly webinars and 3 residentials through the 14 week course.

To explain where our business is and has been…. We’ve grown pretty quickly and in typical hickey stick fashion with a couple of slight blip years but mainly down to things like the economy in BREXIT vote year etc. I’ve recruited some excellent people internally and some people I maybe shouldn’t but growth sometimes pushes you to make slightly rushed decisions. The important thing is to learn from these – which we have.

Before the course I knew where I wanted us to head and I don’t have to report up to any higher power or even talk to the banks but I didn’t have the clarity that this course has now given me.

As business owners we all have times where we feel in control, out of control, confident in our decisions, not so confident in our decisions……… get my point. This course breaks down all the different component parts of running a business: Vision, Opportunities for Growth, Sales and Marketing Strategies, Financing Growth, Business Risk, Resources, Leadership, Accounting etc. Much of it you may have comes across at stages but this course focuses a week on each element, building your theoretical knowledge and then putting your business into the theory. After each module (week) you write up how this relates to your business into a business plan so after 14 weeks you have a detailed plan of action for the next 3-4 years.

There are 3 residentials during the 14 weeks where you spend 2 or 3 days out of the business, staying away, sitting through days of exercises and lectures. The social side is as important to the course as the academics as there is a huge networking element with business owners being very open discussing problems and offering solutions. This is as valuable as any other part of the course.

What did I gain from doing it? Firstly, a 34-page business plan of what we’re doing in the next 4 years (watch this space!!) with detailed plans and projections. Secondly, the belief that decisions I had made up to this point – easy or difficult – have been the right ones and this installs a huge amount of belief in where we are now heading. This added confidence has helped me to understand we can take more risk with our growth plans and, understanding what other business owners are going through, has also made me realise we all have the same challenges.

The course has reinvigorated me and got me up for the fight again but, be warned, this course takes a considerable amount of your time and takes you away from your business. If you are going to do this then commit to it and expect yourself to be away from your business a fair amount and give yourself the time to do the exercises and assignments that need doing.

Would I do it again? In a flash – but I need a rest first!!!

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