Small changes can make a big difference to North East business growth

Posted on the 12 May 2017

Small changes can make a big difference to North East business growth

North East business leaders have been told that making small changes to their companies can make a huge difference to their growth potential.

Addressing the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s ‘Together We Can Take On The World’ conference at Newcastle’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sherry Coutu CBE, Founder of the ScaleUp Institute and business education programme Founders4Schools, told more than 300 of the region’s leading business figures that a small change in their business could unlock huge growth. 

Sherry, originally a Canadian national, said: “We have seen that the UK has become the best in the world at starting businesses, even better than the USA; the problem is that we aren’t that good at scaling them up. The good news is that a tiny tweak, some minor adjustment to the pieces of the puzzle will allow tremendous growth.

“Every single one of us has a role to play and it’s a very important role, not just the entrepreneurs, not just the LEPs, not just the media. We all need to make adjustments and embed ourselves in the right networks, and it will care deeply about whatever problem you’re trying to solve.”

In response to this call for businesses to scale-up, Entrepreneurs’ Forum chairman Nigel Mills said: ”I completely agree with Sherry, to put this in perspective if just 1% of companies scaled up it would add £100 billion to the economy.”

While in the North East for the conference, ScaleUp Institute board members participated in a roundtable discussion with members of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s Scale Up Leaders’ Academy, a programme designed to realise the growth ambitions of the region’s businesses.

YO! Sushi creator and original Dragons’ Den investor Simon Woodroffe OBE shared his story with the conference and gave the audience the benefit of his advice. He said: “When I was a kid at school I thought if you told people your ideas they would nick them. I’ve never found this to actually be the case. What I have found is if you stand up and tell people about your ideas it makes them real. To me the magic words are - this is so obvious, why hasn’t someone done it before?”

In his address to the conference, Norwegian entrepreneur and LoveFilm co-founder Thomas Hoegh complimented the UK’s business environment, saying: “I’ve lived here for 20 years and I prefer to grow stuff here. I see the balance between being a country made up of lots of different people, and being one where we look after each other. You can do this and have a successful business culture; I spent many years in the United States and it was unbalanced, a vast underbelly of society was ignored.”

Olympic Swimmer and World Championship gold medalist Karen Pickering OBE shared her inspirational story with the conference and drew a comparison between the determination of professional athletes and entrepreneurs, saying: “If you work hard at something you will overcome the people that have had the head start, who are naturally good at something.”

Sarah Wood OBE, the CEO and founder of viral video tech company Unruly, who grew up in Seaton Sluice, was interviewed by BBC Newcastle presenter Alfie Joey, who also hosted the conference. 

Answering Alfie Joey’s questions about the growth of her business, Sarah said: “Communication is one of the most important things to master as you are scaling up. We practice extreme communications, we’d rather overshare than under-share. Our philosophy is to share the love. You never want your team to feel they’re being left behind, keep them in the loop.”