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Out of the Nursery Phase

Having been in business for over 20 years now, I notice the same issues that faced me during the growth years of my first company are still unaddressed today - that of the lack of support in terms of knowledge transfer and financial aid for companies who have exited the nursery phase and who are going for growth.

Whether I am working in Africa, India or Europe I notice that all governments are currently promoting the need for more entrepreneurship and business start-ups. All economies recognise that growth, employment and innovation will come from entrepreneurs. Here, I add that entrepreneurs can be for profit, social, cooperatives and even community entrepreneurs. Initiatives, funds, training, incubators, seminars and mentors are being provided for all would-be entrepreneurs and for those in the early start-up phase. It's great and thank you.

For large well-established companies, whilst currently it is more difficult than previously to access finance, government patronage is offered to keep these companies alive, mainly in the hope that they do not shed jobs. Again, very important as the unemployment numbers are already too high.

However, jobs are created, skills and training encouraged, innovation developed and competitiveness exploited by those companies in the growth stages. Those companies that may have been established for the past five to seven years, those companies that have come out of the nursery stage, out of incubators and are considered stable and mature enough to be left alone...but that does not mean that they should be ignored.

The growth stages of a company are probably the most difficult to navigate because identifying the right information, or the right person, with relevant knowledge and practical experience to apply it to your business model, is not easy. Finding the bank manager or investors with the insight and the foresight to comprehend the vision and capability of your company is an equally difficult challenge. And proving your competence, the market credibility of your products or services and the calculated risk, is difficult without the right team around the 'board' table.

Through a private sector initiative of a UK organisation, Business in the Community (www.bitc.org.uk), my small growth company was partnered with a large manufacturer. Actually it was big 'white' company helping a little ethnic company, an initiative called Race for Opportunity. They helped me access technical knowledge to increase productivity, supported me with training on sampling and product specification requirements for multinational retailers, prepared me for negotiations with buyers and investors, designed production scheduling and distribution cycles and even gave me second hand equipment to take my company to the next level. Alongside this cooperation agreement with a same-sector company, I also identified three mentors who encouraged my personal growth as a business manager and the professional competence development of the company.

Governments cannot offer the information required at this level of growth. It has to be relevant, with timely interventions of real experts, not consultants, who have gone through the growth curve and can share assistance, but most importantly, help avoid any nasty pitfalls. As Germany knows well, it is these middle-level companies, well-established, with steady growth potential that are the key to continued sustainable growth and that this argument holds true for times of crisis, recession or affluence.

 

Madi Sharma is an entrepreneur who founded and runs the Madi Group, a group of international private sector, not-for-profit companies and NGOs. The philosophy is to create innovative ideas tailored to local action which can achieve global impacts beneficial to a sustainable society. Madi is an internationally renowned public speaker in the field of entrepreneurship, female empowerment and diversity; her passion is for corporate social responsibility. Her achievements include Asian Woman of Achievement and UK's Best Boss. She is a member of the Employers Group of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, a Prime Minister's appointment.
Published on 24-05-2013 20:48 by Madi Sharma. 1047 page views

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