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Business groups join forces to deliver £100k of training to SMEs

ENTREPRENEURS in Milton Keynes could share more than £100,000 worth of specialist training after Milton Keynes Council launched its biggest ever support programme for small businesses. 

The council has partnered with leading business groups to provide support and training to 100 small and medium size businesses. The Diamond Resilience programme covers how businesses can move from survival mode to recovery, and how to become more resilient in preparation for changing circumstances or other future crises. 

The programme will offer entrepreneurs practical support, including mentoring and coaching. Businesses can also get a voucher of £500 to cover support across legal, marketing and IT services among others. 

The council is working with Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce, the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, the Federation of Small Businesses and Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership to deliver the support programme.

It comprises a series of business development and personal development – each participant must complete at least four courses – run by the Chamber of Commerce. Themes include marketing, workforce planning, first aid for mental health, presentation skills and team motivation.

SEMLEP is providing one-to-one mentoring sessions among a range of initiatives as part of its support offer. Building on a resilience toolkit that SEMLEP developed in partnership with professional services firm Grant Thornton in 2020, SEMLEP will offer each participant in the MK SME programme an initial assessment including a review of a business’s operations, finance, marketing plan and strategy to identify a set of actions to build resilience and improve performance over the 12 months of the programme. 

At the end of the 12-month programme, participants will produce an agreed action plan with SEMLEP Growth Hub business advisers attending a quarterly session to review progress.

Milton Keynes Council will purchase a voucher for each participant for £500 worth of expertise and advice from existing small and medium-size businesses in Milton Keynes. The aim is to encourage links between participant businesses and the wider local business community while ensuring funding is kept within the MK economy. 

“MK has significant strengths in the professional services sector and this represents an opportunity to make links between SMEs within the MK economy,” said a council spokesman. 

The scheme will be administered by Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership on behalf of the council. The organisation will provide guidance to the participants on what can be achieved with their voucher and ensure it does not overlap or duplicate other sources of support.

Eligible businesses must be based within Milton Keynes borough and have operated for at least 12 months. They can employ no more than 25 staff and have annual turnover of less than £1 million. The council is looking to include as many sectors as possible, with extra priority given to those looking to develop their business model, the spokesman added.

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