Ten ways business support can help transform your organisation

In today’s landscape of declining funding levels and an ever greater need for the positive social impact that culture and heritage organisations can generate, accessing business support can be an important step in securing a stronger future for your organisation. 

At Creative United, we’re about to welcome the first cohort of cultural heritage organisations taking part in Prosper North. They’ll benefit from a free six-month programme of bespoke business support including eight hours of one-to-one business advice with a specialist advisor matched to their needs. 

Here are some of the benefits that a business support programme can offer, all identified by participants from cultural organisations in similar programmes we’ve run in the past.

Consider applying to join our next cohort to reap the rewards for your own organisation.

  1. Realising you’re not alone

As part of a cohort of 20-25 organisations going through the programme together you’ll discover that many of you have common challenges. Through a mix of our workshop programme, webinars and meet-ups, you’ll be able to share approaches and learn from each other as well as from our business experts.

  1. An external eye

A fresh pair of (expert) eyes from an objective business adviser who can take a close look at your business and evaluate why you are doing what you are doing and for whom. “It has really helped us to develop our business and stop doing things just because we have always done them.” Another participant added: “Organic growth is excellent but an external eye can help take you to the next level”.

  1. The chance to stop and think

The time, space and support for you to think deeply and strategically and to talk to people with a range of different expertise is a key benefit. Organisations like yours are usually immersed in the day-to-day delivery of projects or running buildings with all the trouble-shooting that can entail. It’s really valuable to create space and time to think about the strategic direction of your business.

  1. The courage to explore new things

Business advice can help you to be more imaginative and braver about the ideas you want to develop as well as give you the space to test new thinking. It can also help you come up with fresh approaches to ideas generation for your organisation.

  1. Exploring the things you hadn’t anticipated exploring

When you apply to Prosper North we’ll ask you to identify the specific challenges you want to work on. However the intensive process of working with a business advisor can lead you to a realisation that a different set of challenges need to take priority. Or, that you need to go back a step to refine something before being able to work on the issue you originally identified. This is all part of the business support journey.

  1. Consolidating your aims

One-to-one thinking time with an advisor can often be a catalyst to re-evaluate your organisation’s mission. Is it still relevant? Do you need to clarify your organisation’s aims and make sure that your work and projects are still a coherent fit with your mission? How can you achieve growth and advance your organisation’s mission in tandem?

  1. Discovering different business models

As a previous Prosper participant noted, “As a sector we’re ideas and activity rich and cash poor”. You’ll be supported to think through your organisation’s potential for growth and how to achieve it. Previous participants valued the opportunity to explore a range of different business models including options they hadn’t been aware of including social investment models. 

  1. Securing new sources of income

Accessing business support can also help you to explore ways to make the most commercially of your existing assets, launch a new service or product, look into social investment opportunities and much much more.

  1.  Understand your audiences

Taking part in a programme like Prosper North can give you a greater understanding of your audiences (current and potential), help you develop audience research tools and give you practical methods to apply audience learning to improving your products and services.

  1. A plan for the future

Lots of participants in our business support programmes come away having formulated a business plan and with lots of tools and skills to use in the future. You’ll come away with a clarity of purpose, a plan for the future and a good financial model to help get you there.

We hope Prosper North will support a vibrant sector to become more financially sustainable and in doing so help you to continue engaging people across the north.

You can apply to join the next edition of Prosper North here: https://www.creativeunited.org.uk/services/prospernorth/

The closing date is 3 February 2020.

Watch this video to see what participants in our previous Prosper programme had to say: