Wendy Bowers: Listen, lead and learn your way to growth
As part of our series of blogs on business growth, we have interviewed leading entrepreneurs and business leaders from around the region. Today, we speak to Wendy Bowers, business development manager at coaching consultancy Winning Pitch.
Is now a good time to be launching a growth strategy?
It is always a good time to develop a growth strategy and some of our best known global businesses – think Orange and Virgin – were launched and grew rapidly in difficult economic times.
What are the biggest challenges facing growing businesses?
A lack of time to step back and focus. This is why business coaching is so effective, it makes you stop for just a few hours. It gives you an experienced sounding board and it then makes you do the things you knew you should be doing – but somehow didn’t find the time for.
Is the North West a good base for a growing business?
The North West is a great place to do business, with great educational facilities providing some of the latest research and development, good infrastructure and ambitious and hard-working people.
What would you say to entrepreneurs who feel they can’t get access to funding?
Funding is there if you know how to develop a funding proposition in the right way. You need to ensure that, as a business owner, you understand how to calculate the amount of finance you need and that your proposal makes sound financial sense. Speak to a business adviser. Your accountant can ensure you are producing accurate management information which will underpin your projections and your business case. Get expert help when trying to access finance – it really does make a difference.
What makes successful leaders of growing businesses?
Listening, leading and learning – you need to continuously do all three. Listen to your customers, your suppliers, your employees, your gut. Lead by motivating and sharing your vision with all your team. A great leader creates other leaders, not followers. Learn from every experience and learn from the experiences of others. Be prepared to pay good money for expertise that you don’t have. Learn to delegate, otherwise you will stifle growth.
Is there a cultural shift required for growing businesses?
High growth businesses move quickly and to do this, your whole team needs to share your business values and understand and feel that they are part of your growth plans. This shared belief has to be underpinned by a clear strategy.