The coronavirus pandemic has impacted businesses across all sectors and sizes, but many SME businesses have been amongst the worst hit. Whilst the economy has started to reopen following the UK’s lockdown period and many small businesses have begun their recovery, fears of a second wave and localised lockdowns being implemented across the UK mean the future for small businesses is still very uncertain.
To help support SMEs during this time, the UK Government has introduced two brand new leadership programmes designed to help small business owners manage the ongoing challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
A commitment of £20 million has been made by the government to launch the Small Business Leadership Programme and the Peer Networks Programme, both of which are planned to be rolled out later this year. The aim of these two government-funded programmes is to up-skill small business leaders to help enhance business resilience and develop their potential for future growth.
Small Business Leadership Programme
Designed by leading small business and enterprise experts, this course aims to provide insights and advice to senior leaders at SME businesses to support their recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The scheme has been designed to be more manageable alongside work commitments, with the 10-week course being taught through a series of eight 90-minute webinars. Participants are also expected to complete up to two hours of independent study and peer-supported learning per week.
The course will also cover topics such as innovation and markets, vision, purpose & brand and action planning and implementation. However, each business must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for the scheme. This includes:
· Must be a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) based in England
· Need to employ between 5 and 249 people and have been operational for at least one year
· The participant should be a decision maker or member of the senior management team within the business with at least one person reporting directly to them
· The participant must be able to commit to attending the full programme
Peer Networks Programme
This scheme focuses on the benefits of collaborative working and is a peer-to-peer networking programme solely for SMEs. The programme is delivered locally by the network of Growth Hubs across England and gives professionals the opportunity to discuss common business issues they may be facing as a result of coronavirus.
It is designed for business leaders who want to grow and develop their success. With the flexibility to discuss the real issues they are facing, whether that be with finance, HR or sales, the scheme hopes to enable open discussion and interactive learning.
As with the Small Business Programme, each business must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible. These are:
· Have operated for at least one year
· Have at least five employees
· A turnover of at least £100,000
· An aspiration to improve
Applying for the schemes
The start date for both the Leadership Programme and Peer Network programme will vary depending on the area your business is based, but currently they are set to launch between September 2020 and January 2021.
To register your interest in the Small Business Leadership Programme visit: https://smallbusinesscharter.org/sblp-registration/
To register your interest in the Peer Networks Programme visit: https://www.peernetworks.co.uk/
During a time when businesses are facing unknown and unpredictable challenges, these programmes may be incredibly valuable and play a key role in helping the UK’s small businesses thrive in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, with so many SMEs impacted during this period, the Government have warned that that the demand for these courses will be high, and so the sooner you can register your interest, the better!
If you are seeking the latest Government information on Covid-19 and the measures the Government, and Devolved Governments, are taking, please visit the UK Government website, the Scottish Government website, the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website.