20 business schools design course for SME leaders

SOURCE: Lindsey Parnaby / AFP
The SBLP training programme, designed by leading small business and enterprise experts from 20 business schools aims to aid business survival.

By Aisyah Liliana 

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SMEs in the UK are set to receive a boost that will help their post-pandemic recovery, in the form of a free, 10-week training programme designed by business schools specifically for senior SME leaders.

The new, fully-funded Small Business Leadership Programme (SBLP), is designed to help SMEs in the UK to build the resilience necessary to tackle the challenges presented by the pandemic.

The programme is supported by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy and covers a range of practical topics including leadership, innovation, employee engagement, operational efficiency, marketing, sustainable practices, and finance.

This free training programme is delivered online by business experts including entrepreneurs, business leaders, and also academics from 20 business schools including Newcastle Business School, Leeds Business School, Aston Business School, Kingston Business School, and Lancaster University Management School.


The programme features eight, 90-minute webinars, alongside independent and peer-to-peer learning and is designed to support and fit in with day-to-day business delivery.

The training programme is designed to help business leaders develop an understanding of what innovation in business means and will explore ways they can apply it to their business. Business leaders participating in the programme will also develop leadership skills to have a positive effect on the performance of their business.

Participants in the training program will also learn how to articulate their vision and values as well as assess the long-term impact and sustainability of their businesses.

Programme participants will also learn how to identify key markets for their business and evaluate their approach to creating customer demand and building relationships with prospective customers.

Additionally, through this programmes, leaders of small businesses can develop the skills needed to outline the strategic approach to operations management and understand the key elements of managing finance required to underpin business growth and resilience.

Participants will also develop an action plan for resilience and productivity in their business, including key tools and metrics in this 10-week programme.


The training programme which is set to drive future growth is currently underway with its first cohort from across the region and is still open for registration.

It is highly recommended for individuals managing small businesses as they would benefit from the opportunity to strengthen their strategic leadership skills, as well as grow their business networks.

While the programme is offered for free, participants must be in senior management roles, with at least one direct report, in businesses that have been operating for at least one year, and with 5 to 249 employees.

Dr Hannah Hesselgreaves, who is co-leading the programme alongside Dr Matthew Sutherland at Newcastle Business School, said: “Our first cohort represents a really diverse mix of sectors, from manufacturing, engineering and bioscience to events, IT and dentistry,”

She adds that “However, they have a shared interest in improving the sustainability and resilience of their organisations. There is a real desire to listen and learn from each other and to share experiences and challenges along the way.”