Doncaster-based Friday at Five, a business which works with companies to deliver individual and team performance improvements, is reaping the benefits of support from the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub which is helping to transform the business following the impact of the UK lockdown.
Anita Newton, Founder of Friday at Five, explains: “I contacted the Growth Hub back in April after a challenging period through the first UK lockdown’. I knew we needed to refocus and to come up with a strong strategic plan for the future. I also wanted a mentor to guide us through the unprecedented challenges we were facing and that’s what the Growth Hub provided – and more.”
Sheffield City Region Growth Hub put Anita in touch with Darren Buxton, one of its Business Growth Specialists and the company embarked on the Re-Start to Growth Programme. This offers business leaders help and guidance in the areas of strategic planning, leadership support, sales and marketing, operations, financial advice and digital/IT skills in a bid to help businesses to recover and continue their growth following the impact of Covid-19.
Darren Buxton, Business Growth Specialist at the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, said: “Anita was looking to grow the company’s client base and to find new markets. Many of their clients were agencies but they wanted to diversify into more sectors and extend their expertise to new areas. I carried out a business diagnostic and looked at where Friday at Five could target new markets and how they could develop their offer.”
Darren and Anita then worked on goal setting and developing a new strategy and action plan for the business, plus putting controls in place to ensure that the plans could keep on track. They worked on establishing a set of core values and from this Darren helped Anita to create new marketing materials that sold the benefits of what Friday at Five can do. He also encouraged Anita to think more strategically about her ideal type of client and to target larger SME businesses. Together they identified business that had undergone significant change, recruitment companies and the education sector as having potential for growth.
Anita Newton, Managing Founder of Friday at Five explains: “Darren has really challenged us and everything we do, which we have found hugely beneficial and it has helped us grow in confidence when targeting new market sectors.
“He helped us to formalise our business planning and to develop a pipeline to work to, with a visual dashboard which gives an overview of what we need to do to get to where we want to be. I now feel that we are using our time more productively and this more focused approach is having a really positive benefit in securing appointments with new clients.”
Anita continues: “Darren encouraged us to come up with tangible facts and figures that show where we have made a clear difference to our clients. This led to us carrying out a 12 week programme with one client where we carefully monitored the results and the outcomes from the programme we implemented, which were amazing – in some cases the client experienced over 200% improvement in their team’s performance.”
Now Anita is progressing with the strategic plan developed as part of the Re-Start to Growth programme and holds a monthly meeting with Darren, which she says helps ‘keep us on track’ to ensure the business is meeting the objectives set out originally.
One of her recently secured projects is with a group of universities that are looking to support its students during this challenging global pandemic, with a view to reducing student drop-out rates. Anita has identified potential opportunities with schools, colleges and universities as well as where she could support Yorkshire-based SMEs and larger organisations that are experiencing fragmented, un focused or dysfunctional teams, disengaged employees, cultural or organisational change.
Anita, who has a background of working in marketing agencies in Leeds, started Friday at Five three years ago. Anita also works with two associates within the business – one that focuses on mental health and the other is a trained Mindflick Practitioner, like Anita, which is a framework for thinking that helps individuals and teams develop adaptability through a strength-based tool.
Any business that is looking to re-establish or recover after making significant losses due to the Coronavirus lockdown, or is facing challenges that put its long term future in question, should speak to the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub team about the Re-Start to Growth or Re-Start to Growth+ packages. If further help is required after the completion of the Re-Start to Growth initiative, the business could be eligible to access additional support through Re-Start to Growth+ (Plus). This provides a further 2 days of intensive support which would be delivered over an agreed time period (limited to three months).