Running a small business involves a number of challenges including staff recruitment, building customer relationships, marketing and money management, particularly for those with limited business experience. However, many small companies struggle to grow adequately, as business owners can sometimes lack the management and entrepreneurial skills to match their technical abilities.
Small businesses can therefore benefit from training and support in areas such as cash flow forecasting, employment legislation, sales pipeline management, purchasing and other essential business disciplines.
A stronger skills base and access to a talented workforce benefits the local economy as well as future proofing the construction industry, especially at a time when industry statistics show that over 400,000 construction workers will reach retirement age in the next five to ten years, indicating that the industry skills gap will continue to widen.
In addition, the current housing shortage means that demand for skills will remain high, providing growth opportunities for SMEs. For many small businesses, growth is a key objective, with 67% of companies aiming to expand in the next few years, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) – something which could be affected by a skills shortage.
This is where the Entrepreneurship Foundation, set up by Saint-Gobain in association with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), could make a real contribution.
The initiative provides free training, mentoring and support to selected construction firms. Training focuses on business and management disciplines, as well as exploring the growth opportunities in sustainable building techniques and products.
The Foundation aims to support over 200 growing businesses in the next five years, confident these businesses have the potential to employ hundreds more people as they grow successfully, with support from the Foundation.
Beyond the yearlong support provided to these entrepreneurs, the businesses will have the opportunity to develop long-term partnerships with Saint-Gobain brands, opening up new business opportunities. As the chosen businesses continue to grow, it is hoped that members of the Entrepreneurship Foundation network will continue to support each other for many years to come.