KBS on creating sustainable businesses

Kent Business School academics Dr Mark Gilman and Dr Simon Raby ran a session on creating successful and sustainable businesses. The event in December was organised by Create – a network for business owners hosted at Fruitworks, Kent’s No. 1 co-working space.

Dr Simon Raby and Dr Mark Gilham were invited to run this session and agreed to focus on a topic troubling many business owners:  how to achieve aspirations for success.

In the session, this question was answered with the following points:

How do we define success?

Success for the participating businesses was not just about profit, although we know profits are important. Business success is defined by individual expectations and the distinction between profit and wider prosperity shows how businesses hold the potential to drive social good and change.

What are the key challenges getting in the way of achieving our aspirations?

There is the current challenge of navigating government systems and “red tape” whereby businesses commented that it “often feels like we’re trying to run with our shoelaces tied together.” Business owners also remarked to identify channels to develop and sell through and shared that there was a need to engage with social media, but businesses are not always sure of its value. Observations were made about finite resources and how finding, selecting and retaining the right people was central to releasing time for owners to work ‘on’ the business, not just ‘in it’.

How can we think differently about the way our businesses work?

In supporting businesses to succeed Dr Mark Gilman and Dr Simon Raby provided insights to how central government policy has typically been oriented towards identifying ‘winners’ or ‘high growth firms’. However, beliefs are beginning to change to recognise that all businesses are ‘creators’ in their own rights.

Finally, Dr Mark Gilham and Dr Simon Raby discussed some common problems faced by business owners and introduced The BIG Ten – ten characteristics that have been found amongst better performing firms, and those achieving their aspirations.

For the full blog article on the event, or for more information about building relationships with like-minded business owners, please contact Dr Simon Raby on 01227 824740 or S.O.Raby@kent.ac.uk or take part in our SME growth and performance research.

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