December 17, 2021, by aczjb1

Help to Grow Management: An executive leadership and management course designed to help SME leaders grow their businesses

Modern university business schools are interesting places to work, there’s such a range of things to get involved with. As a university, knowledge is at the heart of what we do and we can make use of this in various ways, for instance conducting research to address current problems, engaging with external stakeholders to collaborate on bringing about change or working with a wide variety of learners to share ideas.

In my role at Nottingham University Business School, I conduct research into the management practices of SMEs. These management practices can be especially important during efforts to grow a business – as that business seeks to do new things, or similar things at a different scale. The established and well-worked through routines that have served the business well to-date might not be so well suited to the demands placed on a larger business. At these times, the management challenges facing SME leaders can be significant and there might not be a fix on hand that meets the specific needs of their business. Overcoming the management challenges of growth might involve a combination of relevant knowledge and the ability to apply this to a particular business.

Earlier this year, the Chancellor announced the launch of Help to Grow: Management, a course for SME leaders and senior decision makers who recognise the importance of leadership and management skills in growing their venture. For its part, the government is subsidising the course costs by 90% – so the fee to delegates is £750.

This national programme is being delivered regionally by university business schools, such as Nottingham University Business School. On the 12-week course, delegates participate in eight webinar workshops, four face-to-face case study sessions (public health guidance and regulations permitting), peer networking sessions and receive ten hours of one-to-one mentoring to develop a business growth action plan. Modules on the course include:

  • developing a marketing strategy
  • efficient operations and employee engagement
  • leading change.

Throughout the course there is a strong emphasis on the relevance and application of knowledge. To deliver against this theme of applied knowledge, academics and experienced commercial facilitators work together in supporting delegates’ learning. In addition, the incorporation of ten hours of one-to-one mentoring means that delegates can take that emphasis on relevance and application even further with specific feedback tailored to their business.

As one of the first business schools nationally to launch Help to Grow: Management, we have now completed two courses and launched our third. Feedback from delegates on the two completed courses has emphasised the value of peer-to-peer learning.

From speaking to delegates, I have come to understand how much they value sharing and exchanging experiences with others. Having the chance to discuss live issues with like-minded peers who might have gone through something similar or are facing the same challenge is an aspect that delegates have highlighted especially.

There are also opportunities for delegates to engage with the university more widely. For example, two businesses from our first cohort have shared business dilemmas with groups of our MSc students to explore. Understanding the business dilemmas and reporting back their recommendations has provided learning opportunities for our MSc students. For the businesses involved, it has helped advance their decision-making processes. Other examples show that through Help to Grow: Management, SME leaders can increase their own knowledge but also gain benefits beyond the course through engaging with the wider university community of which they are a part.

For SME leaders interested in pursuing business growth and boosting their skills in a way that they can apply directly to their business, Help to Grow: Management might be worth considering. Anyone interested in learning more about the 12-week course of webinars, peer learning and individually focused mentoring to support leaders in growing their business for £750 is welcome to get in touch via the email address below.


Dr Robert Wapshott is Course Director for Help to Grow: Management at Nottingham University Business School.

He writes on small business management and is the author of books including: Managing Human Resources in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Entrepreneurship and the Employment Relationship (2016) and Small Business, Big Government and the Origins of Enterprise Policy: The UK Bolton Committee (2022).

Follow this link for more information on Help to Grow: Management at Nottingham University Business School.

Or email our Executive Education team

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