Five top tips for businesses in 2021 from industry experts

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The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are investing over £100m in business and jobs over the next four years.

Together with partners, WECA are leading a Regional Recovery Taskforce which has set out a Recovery Plan to create 1,800+ new jobs and provide 22,000+ training and skills placements each year.

Central to this is the Combined Authority’s dedicated business support service, the West of England Growth Hub, which provides SMEs with tailored one-to-one advice and access to finance, support programmes and expert guidance.

From financial planning and protecting your IP, to improving employee mental health, we’ve brought together some expert advice from a range of WECA’s business support partners to help you prepare for the year ahead.

1 - Get a fresh perspective

Anthony Impey, Chief Executive, Be the Business:

“Don’t underestimate the value of getting a fresh perspective on your business. Seek out people who have faced challenges like those you’re facing. Find people who can take a step back and ask good questions.

"People working in other spaces but with experience of making the kind of decisions you’re making can be a great source of inspiration.

"That outside perspective, which our advisory boards and mentoring programmes provide, can prompt you to think about things you might have taken for granted. They can provide support on big decisions.

"The coronavirus pandemic has really highlighted the importance of seeking the support of others. Everybody has been affected by the pandemic in some way. You will find that making time to seek out the perspectives of others is just the catalyst you need to find a path forward.

"Now is a great opportunity to seek out support. You won’t regret doing so.”

Support available: The Growth Hub can connect your business to peer support, mentoring and 1-1 coaching opportunities, including programmes in partnership with Be the Business such as the Advisory Board Programme, Mentoring for Growth and Rose Review Female Entrepreneurs Mentoring Programme.

2 - Adopt the right technology

Ben Shorrock, Managing Director of TechSPARK:

“The use of tech has become more and more important to businesses and the current crisis has put it squarely front and central. "By adopting the right technology companies can continue to operate, work with clients, support their teams and open up new markets online.

"Many companies are at different points on this journey and it can seem daunting and potentially expensive. That’s not necessarily true and there’s lots of support available to help make it easy. "Whether it’s advice, connections to people in the same boat or programmes to build you tailored systems we’ve seen how the West of England Growth Hub is there to help.”

Support available: The Growth Hub is working with TechSPARK to match businesses with a consultant, providing up to 4 days of hands-on support to develop and enhance the business’ web presence.

3 - Protect your Intellectual Property

Dave Hopkins, Senior Policy Advisor, The Intellectual Property Office:

“Intellectual Property (IP) can form an integral and valuable part of your business. Like buried treasure, it can often lie overlooked, waiting to be discovered and monetised or leveraged for your benefit. "Identifying and strategically protecting your IP can be invaluable for strengthening your business value proposition.”