MANAGEMENT

New business consultancy to boost bottom lines in Birmingham

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Birmingham City University's Business Advice Centre will provide free consultancy services to local businesses.

From the local mom-and-pop store to the budding tech startup hotdesking at a co-working space, small businesses make up 99.9 percent of the UK’s business population, with some 5.8 million registered as at the start of 2019. 

According to Santander analysis, small businesses contributed 51 percent of all turnover generated by the private sector last year. This makes them paramount to the economic well-being of the country and central to the success of the government’s industrial strategy to boost national productivity levels and stimulate economic growth.

SMEs are always hungry for growth opportunities and of course, funding for support. To survive a tough business climate, these businesses need to innovate but making bold investment moves in this direction could end up hurting the bottom line.

Running on lean budgets and small margins, these are risks often too big for the SME to take. 

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Fortunately for businesses in the West Midlands, help has arrived in the form of a free business consultancy service, run by Birmingham City University (BCU). 

Many universities run such consultancies in the UK, namely NorthumbriaDurhamLancasterLoughboroughBathManchesterLeeds Beckett and Portsmouth Universities, to name a few.

These consultancies are typically run by the students themselves, under the supervision of their academic supervisors, and are most common in law and business schools. Advice is free because both sides stand to benefit from the arrangement: while students get the work experience they need to develop better commercial awareness, businesses get to pick the brains of tomorrow’s leaders at no cost.

Like its equivalents in other schools, the Business Advice Centre run by the BCU Business School will provide expert help and support to companies across the region for free.

Whether large or small, organisations can tap the business consultancy for solutions tailored specifically to their needs, whether they need advice on how to secure government funding or support for their growth plans.

In addition, the business consultancy service also offers “off the shelf” management and professional development programmes and can design bespoke training courses to help upskill the organisation’s workforce.

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“Birmingham City Business School has a rich source of resources that can help companies to secure government cash grants and obtain advice to grow their sales,” West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said when announcing the service last week, according to The Business Desk.

“These businesses can come along and get practical advice, from all the academics and experts, about the real issues that they face,” he added, also describing the service as a “real piece of generosity” for the West Midlands business community. According to government data, there are 951 businesses per 10,000 resident adults in the region.

Birmingham City Business School Director Nassim Belbaby, who was also present at the launch, said the facility is well equipped with experts capable of providing practical support in all matters necessary to support business growth such as applying for Innovate UK grants, or assisting with market research, taxation and accounting.

“Sharing knowledge to meet the respective needs of the business community and of our students is at the core of our purpose. The Business Advice Centre will make it easier to achieve this goal,” he said.

The Business Advice Centre will officially open its doors this November 4 and will be based at the Business School in the university’s Curzon Building.