Cranfield School of Management’s Business Growth Response Programme is redoubling its support for thousands of SMEs this autumn. Owning the Winter is the new phase of the programme, designed to guide business owners through the continuing challenges created by Covid and the exit of the UK from the European Union. 

On Thursday 15 October 2020, the School of Management’s Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship will host its second virtual conference that will address these issues directly, and help those attending develop the strategies and techniques that will see their businesses not merely survive, but thrive.

Director of Cranfield School of Management’s Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship, Dr Stephanie Hussels, said:  “For many years, Cranfield has convened Venture Day, an annual event bringing together entrepreneurs, high-profile speakers, advisers, and experts in business growth. This year’s autumn conference is our online equivalent, focused on meeting the urgent needs of businesses that are finding their feet and who are now looking to resume their development path.

“The importance of the SME sector cannot be over-emphasised: they provide nearly half of the country’s GDP and employment.They are the engine of the UK economy and will play a vital role in helping the nation build back better.”

Support for the recovery is a top priority. Job losses are mounting and there is huge uncertainty over both the pandemic and the effects of the end of the transition period from the EU.

Cranfield has been working with ambitious owner-managers since the 1980s and brings decades of expertise to the table.Businesses and brands that have passed through its doors include Hotel Chocolat, Cobra Beer, Belvoir Cordials, Thatcher’s cider, Go-Ape and many other household names.The Bettany Centre alumni network of entrepreneurs today numbers over 2,700 businesses.

“In creating Owning the Winter we are fortunate to have the strong support of SEMLEP, our local enterprise partnership,” adds Hussels.“In these tough times, we are partnering with the SEMLEP Growth Hub to deliver as broad a range of tips and techniques as possible.”

Sabrina Sommer, Programme Director of the Business Growth Response Programme, explains this new phase of Owning the Winter.“Our previous virtual event, Unlock, generated huge interest, with well over 100 participants from all sectors and an overwhelmingly positive response.Businesses really value the support we can give.The feedback also told us that many owner-managers have now stabilised their businesses and are ready to face a new set of challenges.Their input has been vital in shaping Owning the Winter.    

“On 15 October, we will bring together experts and thought leaders to give their perspective on the pressing  issues they face such as preparing company supply chains for EU exit, creating best-in-class online marketing and sales functions, and managing and motivating teams who are working remotely.Many contributors are themselves owner-managers who can share their journeys and their knowledge to inspire and hone the skills of the wider Cranfield SME community.”

“As always, our focus will be on moving from knowledge into action” says Sabrina. “We will know we have succeeded when the business owners we support tell us what they have taken away from Owning the Winter and implemented in their businesses.”