The managing director of a south Staffordshire label manufacturer has gone back to the classroom to help his business stick to an effective long- term strategy for growth.
Dr Adrian Steele, of Mercian Labels, is one of the first directors in Staffordshire to sign up to the Director Development Programme, run by Business Link Staffordshire.
The programme aims to help key directors of private sector commercial businesses and social enterprises in Staffordshire that employ between 20 and 250 staff to increase overall business productivity through better leadership and management skills.
A total of £1,000 worth of Department for Education and Skills and Learning and Skills Council support is provided for each participant, which can be spent on virtually any kind of development need.
Dr Steele took advantage of the scheme after running the Cannock firm for the past four years. He took over from his father who started the business in 1969.
His business employs 20 people and specialises in the fast-turnaround printing of small runs of custom-printed self adhesive labels, including for the security, food and pharmaceutical sectors.
Dr Steele said, although the business was achieving year-on-year growth, he felt he needed to attain new skills to ensure he was taking it in the right direction.
"I jumped at the chance to acquire the skills I needed to adopt the best strategic approach for pushing the business forward," he said.
He was assigned to a business mentor who recommended studying a module of a Masters of Business Administration programme at Manchester Business School that focuses on business strategy.
"The course is proving to be a real boon for the business as it is providing practical knowledge that I can apply immediately," he said. "I have rewritten the business plan to take into account more realistic and achievable growth plans in new markets that offer strategic opportunities."
He said he would also focus more on its website, which now brings in 80 per cent of its new business.
Karen Newman, who is managing the Director Development programme at Business Link Staffordshire, said: "The aim of the programme is ultimately to improve business performance within Staffordshire for the good of the economic development of the county."
Meanwhile, Birmingham's time-strapped professionals have been offered the chance to experience 'lighting learning' with the launch of Skills Burst - a series of high intensity soft skill workshops.
Developed by Peter Spalton of business relationship and growth consultancy Rainmakers, Skills Burst comprises a series of 110-minute workshops that aim to let participants expand their knowledge in a fun, fast and focused way.
Offered at central Birmingham locations they cover essential skills in business and life.
"The short time span of the accelerated learning workshops mean participants learn more and in less time - the perfect combination for today's skill and time- starved businesses and professionals," claimed Mr Spalton.