An Ending and a Beginning

Four of us sat around a table in August 2021 with a blank flip chart and a slight feeling of trepidation. We had only recently met as a team and were about to embark on an important and challenging task. We were delighted to have been awarded an ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) project to deliver business support to 90 businesses across Cornwall based in specific areas which had been chosen because it was felt they would benefit from thriving businesses and the creation of new jobs. Called Konnect for Business we were a new venture within Konnect Communities which supports vulnerable people across the county. We did what often feels right at the start of a challenge, we made tea and scouted around for biscuits.

Meeting the Challenge

Fast forward to February 2023 and we are hoping to be popping the cork on something bubbly because we have met the challenge and are about to complete the delivery of more than 12 hours of business support to each of 90 businesses (in reality it will be probably be a cup of tea again)! In the course of the project we have had changes within our team, we have been working in an uncertain economic climate, and we have had to rethink our approach more than once. We have worked with businesses across a whole range of sectors from retail to leisure to care homes to security to construction. We have delivered business advice on financial planning, staff recruitment and retention, marketing, leadership, management, and customer service. It was always our intention to make as much of a positive difference as we possibly could, so we have rolled up our sleeves and worked alongside our clients to get tasks done. We have met wonderful business founders and leaders who have been a real joy and a privilege to work with.

So back to the blank flip chart. Our small core team were all business professionals and we had built and run successful businesses, but we weren’t arrogant enough to believe we had the bandwidth to deliver all of the business consultancy ourselves. There was a huge task to be done to identify businesses who qualified for the support and who we could work with. Time had to be spent finding those businesses who felt they needed our help and then to work out the scope of what we were going to deliver before the consultancy itself began. There was also a big project management task to keep the project and the reporting of it on track.

Looking ahead

Our ambition was to provide support which was really needed, and which would lead to actionable results and business success. We never wanted to begin with our preconceived ideas about what a business might require or with a template of what we intended to offer. We began every new client journey with a Discovery session which was about us listening to what the business leader felt was most useful and tailoring our support to the real need. This meant we had to be able to deliver across the range of business challenges. Our solution to this was to recruit and build a network of business specialists drawn from different disciplines and all sharing our desire to support Cornish businesses. It was not an easy process to identify and engage these experts, but we did it and built a great community of experts who we continue to work with.

So the project is complete, we have helped businesses move forwards, we have delivered support and we have listened and learned too, we have built a great community of clients and experts, we are proud of what we have achieved. We feel we deserve that cup of tea but we won’t be taking too long over it because this is a beginning not an ending. Our business support service continues as a paid for service and we are working with some of our clients from the last 18 months and with new businesses too. Our ethos is of making a real difference through the provision of affordable actionable, practical and expert support. We continue to be proud of the fact that any profit we generate through our business consultancy goes to support the work of Konnect Communities.