Founder’s plea to SMEs: don’t be isolated

IN a former role, Mike Maddock was regional operations director at blue chip pub company Spirit, responsible for 175 business across the North and Scotland with a turnover of £153m and around 5,000 staff.

Mike Maddock
Mike Maddock

The job no doubt had its challenges. But his biggest challenge yet came when, with business partner Dan Fleetcroft, he co-founded Performance Engineered Solutions, a high performance design engineering business based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham. Last year, its first year of trading, the firm recorded a turnover of £120,000.

“I ran 175 businesses, with 5,000 staff and turnover over £153m... but that was an easy job compared to running an SME (small or medium-sized enterprise), because I had the resources, structures and systems in place to be able to delegate things, whereas now you have to do everything. There’s no delegating,” said Mr Maddock.

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As an SME, it’s important not to be insular, he said, adding that it’s crucial to get support. This ethos has seen him take advantage of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme and now GrowthAccelerator, a partnership between the private sector and Government, which was launched last year for SMEs with potential for rapid and sustainable growth.

Mr Maddock said: “I think no matter what stage you are at or what experience you have in business there’s always room to learn more.”

The £200m GrowthAccelerator programme sees business coaches working with companies to identify their barriers to growth and ways to overcome them, focusing on issues such as securing finance, commercialising innovation or developing leadership and management capability.

Across the North, the scheme has so far signed up 700 companies, with the nation as a whole seeing more than 3,000 companies get involved.

Andrew Brocklehurst, Yorkshire’s team leader for GrowthAccelerator, said the service is not for everybody. He said: “It’s not people who are telling us ‘I would like to grow’ or ‘I need to grow’, but it’s ‘I must grow and I’m going to grow and if you can help me that’s great but if not, get out the way because I’m off’.

“Sheffield and Rotherham are hot spots for us, we’ve found a particularly rich seam of technology-based companies that are finding our offer particularly attractive.”

With support from its business coach, Performance Engineered Solutions is looking to target specific sectors with a marketing plan and is also undergoing a recruitment process.

Mr Maddock said: “They make you step back from being in the tumble drier and have a strategic overview of your business and plan for the future rather than just being in the here and now.

“We obviously need a sales and marketing plan to drive the business forward and create awareness but then also you need to recruit the right people to be able to deliver that and for us we need very specialised people and that takes a long time. It’s chicken and egg.

“If you recruit too early that affects your cash flow because you haven’t got the work to get the return out of them and if you leave it too late then you are committing to projects you won’t be able to deliver in the timescales because you don’t have the resources.”

Performance Engineered Solutions joined GrowthAccelerator a year ago. “We went from a strategy to starting to deliver on how to make that outcome a reality,” said Mr Maddock. Currently a team of three, the firm has a graduate trainee starting this week and another junior designer coming on board in two weeks. It is also looking for another senior designer.

Mr Maddock added: “The business is slowly starting to grow and we’re talking to some larger clients with some fairly hefty projects.”

Part-funded by the Department for Business Innovations and Skills, GrowthAccelerator is being delivered by a consortium led by Grant Thornton. Companies pay a fee to join the programme depending on their size.