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.
Proven Peer Networks
Government run Peer Networks
The government Peer Network scheme brings together diverse cohorts of business leaders so you can discuss your business challenges with your peers. Delivered through a series of high impact group sessions, you will gain and reflect on valuable feedback from your peers and identify practical solutions to overcome them. From finance and HR to sales and marketing, our expert facilitators will give you the flexibility to create a trusted support network, helping to build and strengthen your business and improve its overall performance.
Government funded University led Small Business Leadership Programme
The Small Business Leadership Programme is a fully-funded programme delivered by a consortium of leading university business schools. You will develop strategic leadership skills, and the confidence to make informed decisions that boost business performance. The curriculum explores leadership, innovation, employee engagement, operational efficiency, marketing, sustainable practices, and finance.
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 The service was withdrawn at the end of 2015.
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.
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
The 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 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.
Business Breakfast Meetings
These groups appear to be suspended due to the Coronavirus crisis.
Witney Business Breakfast was the largest breakfast networking event in West Oxfordshire. The meetings were held once a month and attract a lot of business leaders from the region with expert talks and opportunities to meet other company representatives.
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.
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 programme is 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.
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.
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”. Nigel Botterill has a 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.