There are a wide range of services available to help business leaders grow their businesses. Naturally we believe our approach is the best and if you’re a qualifying business leader we invite you to try a meeting for yourself. But if you’d like to try something else, here is a fairly comprehensive list of alternative networking and business growth programmes for you to consider.
Chamber of Commerce
The Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Group is one of 52 chambers accredited chambers belonging to the The British Chamber of Commerce and part of the international chamber network. It operates through individual chambers in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Reading, Wokingham, Slough, Swindon and West Berksshire.
It is the independent voice of business across the Thames Valley, and along the M4 corridor into Swindon. It represents some 250,000 employees. Lobbying on behalf of business on topics such as skills and education, business crime and business rates, the Chamber gives its members a voice to influence decision-making, at a national, regional and local level. It aspires to be the leading voice of business – on behalf of micro to multinational organisations, driving better economic conditions and new opportunities for members and the wider community.
By sharing knowledge, opportunities and expertise, Chambers provide companies with practical support and connections to build new ideas and innovation towards their growth plans. It is a not-for-profit organisation and its connection to government both nationally and continentally can help business stay onside with new legislations.
Institute of Directors – or IoD – offers training, advice and events to its members, with expert speakers from all fields delivering a wide range of talks and seminars. It also provides training dates where key skills for directors are taught and discussed, such as coaching and negotiating.
IoD also provide special meeting spaces, events and dinners for its members to meet and share contact details and experiences.
Chartered Management Institute
Developed in the mid-20th century, the Chartered Management Institute is a body committed to developing high standards in management and leadership excellence. Qualifications and diplomas are internationally renowned and guidance is mostly focused around Human Resource Management issues and internal communications with staff rather than profit-making and growth.
Using a variety of online tools, Chartered Management Institute helps companies and individuals to improve the running of their businesses and progress their own careers.
Association of MBAs
Association of MBAs is the international authority on postgraduate business education, established in the 1960s to promote the MBA qualification in the UK. It is the only professional membership which associates students and graduates, and works with corporate partners to present networking opportunities through events and accreditation.
Chartered Institute of Marketing
The Chartered Institute of Marketing is the world’s largest professional marketing body and offers members training and industry insight to improve their knowledge and career prospects. Members can network to build links with organisations and gain access to online resources.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing also offers professional qualifications across marketing, specific digital marketing and sales to further improve member credentials.
Institute of Sales and Marketing Management
The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management offers professional advice, education, information and encouragement to promote the integrity of the sales industry. It focusses on the ethics and integrity of selling and is officially recognised by Ofqual – the government regulatory body with a resulting skillset based around sales, marketing, and sales & marketing management.
Members can also benefit from 24/7 legal advice, discounts from conference events, and the opportunity to network with industry professionals and experts to build connections. These include breakfast meetings, forums and sales seminars.
BCS – Institute for IT
BCS is the Chartered Institute for IT and strives to promote the IT industry and its workers. It has a focus on networking and sharing knowledge between experts, professionals and academics – while setting standards and codes of good practice across the industry.
There are many BCS branches and groups across the whole of the UK which act as sub-groups for meetings, networking and development. Members are eligible for awards to enhance their IT credentials and there are special talks and events for educating industry professionals.
BNI is a business growth organisation which helps businesses become more profitable, effective and successful through networking. The organisation exists on the premise that members will help each other generate business through introduce potential clients and promote one another’s activities and services. BNI claims this is like “having your own unpaid marketing team”.
Breakfast clubs are also a key part of BNI, with meetings before the business day begins, in addition to “60 second meetings” – where members come together to meet and share ideas with each other and pitch their experiences.
B4 is a quarterly magazine designed to bring together business industries and communities in Oxfordshire. The magazine has a large circulation of business leaders and sponsors. It is both online and offline with content produced by business leaders, and focuses on keeping Oxfordshire’s businesses up-to-date with goings-on in the local community and potential networking opportunities.
The glossy, high quality design coupled with expert analysis, discussion and news articles, makes it very readable and informative. The B4 content is also available in a soft copy online.
B4 is essentially a spin-off of BNI and offers printed information to members. It is widely regarded as the leading networking organisation in the Thames Valley.
4 Networking put on regular networking events to bring together members all across the UK. By purchasing a “passport” which makes them eligible to sign up and attend highly-structured sessions at all times of the day. These sessions include one-to-ones with other business owners in the area and the opportunity to pitch your own company and its activity.
There is a small additional fee for each session, which is payable in cash only.
Witney Business Breakfast
Witney Business Breakfast is the largest breakfast networking event in West Oxfordshire. The meetings are held once a month and attract a lot of business leaders from the region with expert talks and opportunities to meet other company representatives.
The meetings are highly structured and are proven to increase expertise and company relations.
Witney Big Breakfast
Witney Big Breakfast is a business networking and educational meeting which takes place twice a month in Witney. Attendees can enjoy an informal breakfast meeting environment with other business leaders and can often take advantage of short guest talks, where business leaders can share their expertise and experiences.
A friendly and professional meeting which is always at the same venue around the same times of the month helps to build a routine and attract regular members. Meetings can differ in their subjects of discussion.
Banbury Business Breakfast Club
Banbury Business Breakfast Club brings together members and guests at the table to exchange views, ideas, proposals and business ideas – as well as all the latest Banbury “gossip” in a relaxed and informal environment. It also allows members to promote their companies and seek business opportunities through meeting other business leaders in the area.
Cranfield Business Growth Programme
Cranfield Business Growth & Development is a programme designed to improve business’ profits and manage their growth – all with the end goal of safeguarding the future and improving leadership and management skills.
The majority of the programme runs over 11 weeks with modules and meetings in that period before a presentation at the end. The programme contains many elements of an MBA. Cranfield have certain selection criteria for their clients – based on company size and age. The programme is proven to be commercially effective for UK SMEs.
CASS Business School
CASS is a service which helps startups get off the ground. It has a partnership with “Your Business Your Future” to help produce a programme – similar to Business Growth Programme – where entrepreneurs and directors can learn about growing a business, dealing with problems and overcoming issues associated with transition.
CASS runs two courses: The Better Business Programme and Foundations For Growth. The former is for directors of established businesses who want to step it up and increase their profits and rate of growth, while the latter is for younger companies who want to grow and establish their business. Growth strategies are developed for both by working with an experienced coach.
Business Wealth Club
Business Wealth Club is a team of business mentors who aim to deliver world class Business and Personal Development training to grow companies. All courses are CPD certified, and a 9 Step Business Growth System is devised to help businesses move through stages of growth rapidly and effectively.
With an eye-catching regular blog and step-by-step training guide programme, Business Wealth offer a variety of services and packages to help businesses look after cash flow & profit, internal relationships, networking, technical support and work-life balance.
Business Scene is a network of Business Support for SMEs, startups and entrepreneurs. It is an online and offline platform for raising company profiles and networking with other businesses to get that young companies known in the community.
Business Scene provides knowledge and tools to equip businesses with the means to access potential new clients and grow.
Business Growth Shows
Business Growth Shows put on shows and exhibitions with expert speakers that provide a platform for meeting new clients and potential new business partners.
Formed on the impression that new companies may be shy about networking, Business Growth Shows lays on all of the events at its shows to make visiting companies feel at ease to socialise and meet other while learning from inspirational business leaders.
Shirlaws is an international organisation which “coaches” sustainable and profitable growth. They run multinational campaigns both online and in person with regular conferences. Consultants play an advisory role on a number of issues, designed to improve business growth and revenues.
Action Coach is a global organisation of Australian origin. Founded in 1993, the company has grown significantly in that time to have over 1,000 offices worldwide; which hold regular expert seminars and talks from hand-picked business professionals.
Action Coach specializes in new, small to medium businesses. It is a highly structured programme that puts on free seminars each month, as well as quarterly workshops and one-to-one coaching.
Growth Accelerator used to offer bespoke packages for established businesses who want to take the next step of growth but are unsure of how to. Specialising in leadership, financial, and management skills, Growth Accelerator is partly government-funded and provides clients with specialists to grow their business and a database of other businesses with which to network and form relationships with. The service was withdrawn at the end of 2015.
Growth Vouchers (Oxon)
A government programme which offered advice on finance, recruitment, leadership, marketing and technology. Businesses can receive a £2,000 government “voucher” grant towards this advice by entering a random prize draw if they meet the criteria of being a small to medium-sized independent and active business. The training provided is mainly specialised towards development and R&D.
VitalSix helps small progressive businesses to continue to grow profitably with relevant expert advice from experienced business leaders. The company offers business coaching and consultancy to clients with a mix of one-on-one sessions, emails and telephone conversations.
Expertise includes scaling up business operations and finance for growth. Companies can also increase their networking opportunities with access to other fast-growing clients.
Business Growth Hub (Manchester)
Business Growth Hub offers services to companies across Greater Manchester to unlock their growth potential and get expert professional advice on moving companies forward. The group is accountable to Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (government-funded); and provide local businesses with networking opportunities and advice on business growth.
The organisation is run by Economic Solutions Group – a not-for-profit enterprise.
Berkshire Business Hub
Berkshire Business Hub offers government-funded advice on business growth. Registration provides businesses with one-on-one specialist support, networking opportunities, additional grant funding, academic and technical expertise and special Growth Hub events. Registration is only available to companies who meet criteria, such as having a strategic growth plan over the next 2-3 years in place.
As the name suggests, it is a service for growing companies across Berkshire.
Entrepreneur’s Circle mission is to “help UK business owners escape mediocrity and live the lives they want to lead”. Award-winning Nigel Boterill’s network of growth advisors offer training and support to small businesses looking to grow.
The business makes big claims about the impact of their work largely off the back of the success that Nigel has enjoyed in growing his own businesses.
Footnote: Clearly no listing like this can ever be complete. If you are involved with an organisation that you believe should be on this list and isn’t, please contact us at web@MD2MD.co.uk and provide us with some information to add to the list.