This month, we caught up with The Head of Business Services, Ian Smallwood for a chat as he tells us more about his role, how the Growth Hub supports local entrepreneurs and what the future looks like for Business East Sussex.

First of all, we thought we’d ask Ian to explain what a Growth Hub is, so you can get more of an idea if our services are right for you.

The Business East Sussex Growth Hub is delivered by the Let’s Do Business Group, a not-for-profit social enterprise, and is one of 38 Growth Hubs in the Country. The hub was launched in 2015 part of a Government initiative to free up access to business support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Growth Hub is here to help businesses navigate around what can sometimes be a confusing and complicated landscape, finding the right support for those looking to start-up or grow a business. We do this by signposting to local and national business support services and providing specialist advice and guidance through our team of Navigators.

We have direct routes to funding, mentoring support and access to leading networking events across the South East. We also run a host of events and workshops on relevant business topics. As a Growth Hub, our services are completely free for businesses in East Sussex.

The Growth Hub network is a conduit between business and funded government support including Department For International Trade, Manufacturing Growth Programme and Clean Growth Platform. As well as these support providers, we also have a list of specialists that we can connect you with to help you run your business smoothly. From accountants and book-keepers to website and graphic designers and many more – you’re not alone!

You may have previously heard about the South East Business Boost scheme that was introduced in early 2017, in partnership with the European Regional Growth Fund.

The programme exists to drive growth within the local economy by not only helping businesses grow, but also creating job opportunities. Businesses across East Sussex have been awarded more than £915,000 worth of grants for new equipment, technology & systems or to expand premises, helping to create 40 new jobs across the county under the SEBB scheme. The team have also given nearly 3000 hours of support to SMEs across the county.

Where do you come in?

I have worked for the Let’s Do Business Group (LDBG) for 12 years.

I manage a team of highly experienced and talented managers, each with their own specific set of skills, abilities, and personalities. It’s my job to get them all going in the right direction to be able to achieve results that make a difference for the businesses that we are working alongside and drive economic growth within the County.

What matters is creating a business environment in East Sussex that is highly supportive – and making that support accessible and on-hand for those who seek it.

As leading business support providers in East Sussex, each team within Let’s Do Business Group, including Locate East Sussex and Start Up Loans, work together to deliver the best outcome for the client and to see results: whether that’s in terms of revenue, customer-satisfaction or employment figures.

Where do you see the Growth Hub going in the future?

Our emphasis is on building quality, long-term relationships with businesses to discover and understand what their definition of success is, so we can best help them to achieve that goal – this includes finding solutions to the grey areas that our customers may have, from finance, creating a brand strategy and business planning to production and everything in-between.

We focus on supporting businesses with growth ambition and potential – whilst there’s approx. 23,000 businesses in East Sussex, 90% of those are micro-businesses (formed of 10 or less people) and a very substantial proportion of those are sole-traders.

But what we do have in the County are some really great businesses that are growing and determined but just need a nudge in the right direction. If you are growing at 10% p.a., we can give you the encouragement and support to drive that to 15, or 20% and beyond. The goal is to knock down any barriers faced and increase confidence in ambitious entrepreneurs that have the potential to achieve growth at that higher level.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *