Shared experience

W hen a business is successful, any experienced entrepreneur will tell you that there is never a time to be complacent. But moving to the next stage of growth can be as tricky as the start-up stage and finding relevant advice can prove difficult and time-consuming.

The GrowthAccelerator service was launched last May by business secretary Vince Cable and is designed to help ambitious businesses with potential achieve their goals, by identifying any barriers to growth and creating a tailored plan to help them optimise opportunities.

The business then works with an expert coach who supports them with everything from access to finance, to innovating processes and product offering. So far, about 2,500 businesses in a diverse range of sectors from fashion to manufacturing have signed up to the service.

One is Witney-based lighting and sensor manufacturer DFx which won the innovation category at the 2012 Oxfordshire Business Awards. DFx chairman Alan Wyn-Davies has ambitions to capitalise on the growing market for energy efficiency LED lighting and refrigeration products. Manufacturing happens on site and Mr Wyn-Davies and his management team wanted support in expanding the manufacturing process alongside managing a growing sales force and maximising international opportunities.

The DFx management team is now using business coaching and matched funding for leadership and management training to benefit the company.

Mr Wyn-Davies said: “We knew we were in a strong position to capitalise on the growing energy saving trend, but it was important for us to step outside of the day-to-day running of the business and look at the bigger picture.

“Doing that has helped us develop a strategy that with the help of our coach we are fully focused on delivering. For us having that motivation is key and it is benefiting so many areas of our business.”

Innovation is a diverse and complex subject and in general it influences the introduction of new products and services, the development of processes and business models and the understanding and protection of intellectual property.

GrowthAccelerator’s specialist innovation coaches work with high growth businesses to build and maintain an innovation culture. They help them commercialise ideas, develop an innovation strategy and generate profitability through intellectual property.

The organisation’s recent survey of 500 of the businesspeople leading some of the UK’s most promising enterprises found that one in seven felt new product launches and innovation had contributed to their business success to date.

An additional 22 per cent of businesses are planning to launch new products or services to drive their continued success through 2013.

OFEC Consulting, a business based in the city of Oxford, reflects this trend and turned to GrowthAccelerator after hearing about the service at a networking event to help them capitalise on innovative products and intellectual property.

The business, which specialises in developing high end websites, has plans to launch new products over the next three years and the positive impact of GrowthAccelerator is already visible with one new product launching in the next month. Managing director Edward Williams said: “We have ambitious growth plans and GrowthAccelerator is helping us to drive these forward by getting new products to market.

“Taking the time to utilise our existing ideas and turning them into products is helping us to push the business forward and have an even brighter future.

“The coaching is giving us the motivation and focus to get so many fundamental things sorted in the business that we are already able to look further ahead than we have before.

“We are positive about the future and are now starting to put the plans into place to broaden our markets and take the business overseas for the first time over the next three years.”

GrowthAccelerator is suitable for any company with high growth potential, with less than 250 employees and with a turnover of less than £40m.

Don McLaverty, a GrowthAccelerator director, said: “Achieving 20 per cent growth year on year is the hallmark of high growth businesses and it has a significant positive impact on the economy.

“The GrowthAccelerator service has been designed to support a variety of businesses to reach that figure. We want to help businesses realise their aims, balancing ambition and enthusiasm with commercial reality and the pragmatism that experienced coaches can provide.” This page is co-ordinated by Oxford Innovation www.oxin.co.uk

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