I like these types of emails!
“There’s an (awesome) programme targeted at ambitious young technology orientated businesses or individuals looking to grow and scale their business ideas; now open for applications! As a former beneficiary, it was an incredible, really valuable programme to be involved in and one I’d definitely encourage anyone working in the creative and digital space within the Leeds City Region to apply for.”
It was from Rachel Mather about Northern Max Accelerator, a free 10-week programme for early-stage businesses in the Leeds City Region, starting in January.
NB: *Leeds City Region also includes York, Selby, Wakefield, Barnsley, Kirklees, Calderdale, Bradford, Craven & Harrogate.
As Rachel continued to wax lyrical about the programme, she compelled me to find out more so we could help people to decide if it could help them too.
Over to Rachel…
At the start of 2020, after 3 years freelancing alongside working a full time demanding and rewarding career, I decided to finally take the plunge into full time self-employment, quitting my job to become a Bid management & Research Consultant.
Suffice to say, little could we have predicted the cataclysmic impact when COVID-19 took its grip upon the globe. It continues to permeate our lives, as we pivot and adjust to new ways of living and working.
A major impact on the start-up ecosystem, as well as economies, businesses, communities and families the world over, the net effect of the pandemic has been to accelerate the pace of technological change, upending the way we communicate and do business.
Shortly after setting up &mather and trying to make sense of the world as we came to know it as a new-start-up and relative luddite, I spoke to the friendly, knowledgeable and supportive AD:VENTURE Business Engagement team. My Digital Engagement Advisor and I met and carried out a thorough diagnostic assessment.
Based on this assessment of my business model, SWOT analysis and my aspiration and capacity for growth it was suggested I consider applying for a space on the coveted Northern Max 3 (NM3) programme.
Following an initial diagnostic, and a number of supportive, impartial discussions with Michelle and Russell, the team at Greenborough Management running the NM3 programme I was interviewed and selected to be a beneficiary business within the final cohort.
I was then matched to an expert mentor to guide and support me through the 10-week programme, which consisted of masterclasses, peer support and collaboration, wrapped around ten experiential workshops, covering themes including:
1. The business model
2. Goal setting
3. Route to market & marketing
4. Profiling the customer
5. People and resources
6. Partnerships and collaborations
8. Funding and growth
9. Pitch training and experimentation
10. The business plan
The intensity of the programme, and the timing of it was hugely transformative, both personally and professionally.
The practical workshops were useful in helping to develop a framework for my business. The customer goal setting, route to market and customer profiling sessions were really influential in helping to shape my business plan, marketing strategy and developing a brand and company website.
The sessions covering partnerships, people and collaborations helped me really pinpoint the importance of nurturing and maintaining relationships with people who share the same values, drivers, and complementary skills.
The skills and knowledge I gained throughout the programme has really allowed me to consider the best way for me to scale and grow; which has helped me grow in confidence and work with some really talented people on launching a new service. I’ve adapted my payment model, made better, smarter decisions and feel much more empowered and equipped to grow the business.
I’ve also benefited from great mentors providing a supportive, guiding role along the way. In unpredictable times, I feel more resilient and assured having a great sounding board and the wisdom of experience to draw upon and learn from.
Networking with similar businesses who were experiencing similar challenges arising at similar stages in their development has also allowed for some really meaningful connections to develop within the cohort community. Since the programme has ended, there’s been ongoing networking, peer support and referrals between businesses.
Strong friendships and positive working relationships have also emerged, leading to partnerships and joint working on new ventures and projects.
During my former employment I spent over 10 years working in European and UK funded Projects targeting the SME community with grant funded growth and development solutions. Throughout which time I’ve heard countless businesses question the value of coaching and business growth programmes. Many just want to get their hands on cash to spend on resources, products or services they think will grow or enhance their business.
The Northern Max programme taught me that expert advice is priceless, and the community that has developed out of this programme is without question, of equal value to the programme overall.
I would highly recommend anyone looking to scale and take a step-change in their business to apply for the next Northern Max Programme.
Feedback from other participants on the programme include:
“The delivery via Zoom has been a lifesaver. Being so busy, growing the team further, has meant that I have been able to catch up where needed”
“The programme opened my eyes to a number of things that I hadn’t even considered but which are turning out to be really useful – it’s opened my eyes to what I didn’t know”
“Having a mentor within the programme to provide 1:1 advice was highly valuable. I’m grateful to have been part of this programme, particularly at such a time of change and uncertainty. The programme has created a connection as a group of fellow entrepreneurs and a wider community.”
If this sounds like something you want to explore, you can find out more and apply here:
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