Staffordshire Business School adapt Digital Marketing courses to respond to business needs

Following the successful government-funded Small Business Leadership Programme, in conjunction with the Small Business Charter, Staffordshire Business School has enhanced the digital marketing courses to respond to identified business needs.

Issues emerged from the Small Business Leadership Programme

The programme allowed us to work with businesses nationally to understand their key challenges across business operations and provide guidance on how to survive and thrive in a continuously transforming environment. Naturally, businesses have their unique needs, however there were overarching themes identified which impact success. Whilst there have been developments in accessibility of training, digital marketing continues to be highlighted as a significant area with skills gaps. Particularly with the rise in e-commerce as a necessary approach for selling products and services due to the pandemic(Statista, 2020).

The Changing Consumer

It is no secret that in 2020 we saw accelerated changes in the way in which consumers engage with businesses. With 56.3% of the world’s population now on social media (We Are Social, 2021), changing customer expectations is not something that we can ignore. Operationally, we have learned that there is not the required time on a day to day basis to address those vast changes. The Small Business Leadership Programme enabled us to work practically with those businesses to ensure that understanding their audience is not something that is simply discussed in theory, but can be executed. This concept, coupled with working with businesses first hand, is embedded within course curriculum to ensure that the relevant skills are developed prior to entering the professional environment.

Attracting New Business

It is clear from the challenges caused by COVID-19, that if customers are not acquired and retained, business survival is put under great pressure (Hubspot, 2020). But how exactly do we use the right channels to attract new business? Through social listening, strategising against objectives and harmonising with business values, our connected business were able to ‘see the wood from the trees’ when striving for growth. As a digital society, we are inundated with options for promotion. This in fact has been a key barrier for our businesses, who found that perhaps too may options caused confusion of where they should be engaging.

Practical Ways to Plan and Rebuild for the Future

Overall, a general consensus across the five cohorts on the Small Business Leadership Programme was that planning for the future was most challenging, particularly with the reality of the changing environment often being faster than what they could plan for. We supported those businesses to think proactively, utilising guidance from our Entrepreneurs in Residence and to only use reactive approaches when relevant changes emerged for their business. We identify here that in order to support these business challenges, a flexible learning framework is key to any individual developing themselves within digital marketing.

Responding to the identified skills gaps, specifically with SME’s nationally, Staffordshire Business School provides a wide range of Digital Marketing courses focusing on industry expected knowledge, alongside fundamental skills needed to succeed in a professional environment. See our list of available courses below.

There are still places available on all courses, starting September 2021. Our variety of courses support a flexible approach to studying, with options for all experience levels.

Research on SME innovation especially in traditional manufacturing regions Part 2

By Prof Geoff Pugh and Prof Jon Fairburn

Part 1 of this article can be found here

  • Radicic, D., Pugh, G. and Douglas, D. (2018). Promoting cooperation in innovation ecosystems: Evidence from European traditional manufacturing SMEs, Small Business Economics. Accepted 01-08-2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-018-0088-3

Abstract

We investigate whether public support for innovation increases the propensity of SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries to cooperate for innovation—in particular, for incremental innovation—with other firms and external knowledge providers. Using data from seven EU regions, we find that support programmes do not promote cooperation with competitors, marginally promote cooperation with customers and suppliers and strongly promote cooperation with knowledge providers. These findings suggest that, in this case, the role of public policy is systems conforming rather than systems creating. Innovation support programmes can assist SMEs in traditional manufacturing industry to consolidate and/or extend their innovation ecosystems beyond familiar business partners by promoting cooperation with both private and public sector knowledge providers. Finally, our findings suggest that evaluation studies of innovation support programmes should be designed to capture not only input and/or output additionality but also behavioural and systemic effects.

Keywords

SMEs; Traditional manufacturing industry; Innovation ecosystems; Innovation policy; Cooperation for innovation; Behavioural additionality 

  • Radicic, D., Douglas, D., Pugh, G. and Jackson, I. (2018). Cooperation for innovation and its impact on technological and non-technological innovations: empirical evidence for European SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries, International Journal of Innovation Management. Accepted 07-09-2018. https://doi.org/10.1142/S1363919619500464

Abstract.

Drawing on a sample of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in traditional manufacturing industries from seven EU regions, this study investigates how cooperation with external organisations affects technological (product and process) innovations and non-technological (organisational and marketing) innovations as well as the commercial success of product and process innovations (i.e., innovative sales). Our empirical strategy takes into account that all four types of innovation are potentially complementary. Empirical results suggest that cooperation increases firms’ innovativeness and yields substantial commercial benefits. In particular, increasing the number of cooperation partnerships has a positive impact on all measures of innovation performance. We conclude that a portfolio approach to cooperation enhances innovation performance and that innovation support programs should be demand-led.

From the MAPEER project:

  • Radicic, D. and Pugh, G (2016).  R&D programmes, policy mix, and the “European Paradox”: evidence from European SMEs, Science and Public Policy, 44 ( 4 ) ( 2017 ), pp. 497 – 512. doi: 10.1093/scipol/scw077. First published online: October 2, 2016.

Abstract

Using a sample of small and medium-sized enterprises from twenty-eight European countries, this study evaluates the input and output additionality of national and European Union (EU) R&D programmes both separately and in combination. Accordingly, we contribute to understanding the effectiveness of innovation policy from the perspective of policy mix. Empirical results are different for innovation inputs and outputs. For innovation inputs, we found positive treatment effects from national and EU programmes separately as well as complementary effects for firms supported from both sources relative to firms supported only by national programmes. For innovation outputs, we report no evidence of additionality from national programmes and cannot reject crowding out from EU programmes. However, crowding out from EU support is eliminated by combination with national support. These findings have policy implications for the governance of R&D policy and suggest that the European paradox—success in promoting R&D inputs but not commercialisation—is not yet mitigated.

Key words: R&D support; SMEs; policy mix; input and output additionality; European paradox

  • Radicic, D. and Pugh, G. (2017). Performance Effects of External Search Strategies in European Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Journal of Small Business Management, 55, 76-114. First published on-line: Feb.15th 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jsbm.12328                                      

Abstract.

There is little evidence regarding the performance impact of open innovation on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially across different firm-size categories and sectors. Using new survey data from 28 European countries, we specify ordered logit and generalized proportional odds models to explore how seven individual external search strategies (knowledge sources) affect SME innovation performance across different size categories and sectors. While we find some consistently positive effects, in particular from using customers as an external knowledge source, we also find that some search strategies may not be beneficial. These findings suggest managerial and policy implications.

  • Radicic, D. (2020). National and international R&D support programmes and technology scouting in European small and medium enterprises. Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management 11(4), 455-482.  https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTPM-10-2019-0091

Abstract

Purpose. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of national and international R&D support programmes on firms’ technology scouting, defined as firms’ use of external knowledge sources.

Design/methodology/approach. Drawing on a unique data set on R&D support programmes for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in both manufacturing and service sectors across 28 European countries, this study reports treatment effects estimated by the copula-based endogenous switching model, which takes into account unobserved firm heterogeneity.

Findings. Empirical results indicate that R&D support programmes have heterogeneous effects on technology scouting. In particular, a crowding-out effect arises in the case of informal sources of external knowledge, whereas additional effects are reported for formal, strategic sources.

Practical implications. For informal sources of external knowledge, a random distribution of R&D measures would have a substantially larger effect rather than using current selection criteria.

Originality/value. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to explore the policy effects on technology scouting applying a copula-based endogenous switching model. Most cross-sectional empirical studies use matching estimators, although their main disadvantage is the selection on observables.

Key words External knowledge search; Behavioural additionality; Copula-based endogenous switching model; European SMEs; Technology

Email g.t.pugh@staffs.ac.uk or jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk

Part 1 of this article can be found here

Research on SME innovation especially in traditional manufacturing regions Part 1

By Prof Geoff Pugh and Prof Jon Fairburn

Introduction

About the projects

The two projects are the following.

  • GPrix project (November 2009 – February 2012) commissioned by the European Commission’s DG-Research. Full title: Good Practices in Innovation Support Measures for SMEs: facilitating transition from the traditional to the knowledge economy; Instrument: SP4-Capacities—CSA—Support Action; Call: FP7-SME-2009-1; Grant agreement Number: 245459. The website for this project, including aa very large number of deliverables etc., is currently available at http://business.staffs.ac.uk/gprix/en/index.htm
  • MAPEER project commissioned by the European Commission’s DG-Research. Full title: Making Progress and Economic Enhancement a Reality for SMEs. Funded under FP7-SME. Grant agreement ID: 245419. The MAPEER project website is no longer available but the results are reported in summary form on CORDIS: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/93511/factsheet/en

The two projects coordinated their questionnaire surveys to facilitate analysis and eventual publication. Together, participants at Staffordshire University contributed to seven publications arising from these datasets.

The GPrix project focused on evaluating innovation support measures for SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries. In brief, three published articles and a UNI-MERIT Working Paper arising from the project reported that:

  • the estimated effects of innovation support programs are positive, typically increasing the probability of innovation and of its commercial success;
  • although innovation support measures in the EU are mostly designed to support product innovation in R&D intensive sectors, for firms in traditional manufacturing industries a broader innovation (policy) mix is more appropriate, including support for product innovation, process innovation, marketing and organizational innovations (of particular importance), together with internationalization, design and cooperation;
  • innovation support programmes can assist SMEs in traditional manufacturing industry to consolidate and/or extend their innovation ecosystems by promoting cooperation with both private and public sector knowledge providers, suggesting that initial input and/or output additionality from public support may be propagated and amplified by behavioural and systemic effects; and
  • increasing the number of cooperation partnerships has a positive impact on all measures of innovation performance.

The MAPEER project focused on innovation support for SMEs more generally. Three articles arising from this project reported:

  • that the “European paradox” regarding SME support — i.e. success in promoting R&D inputs but not commercialisation — is not yet mitigated;
  • new evidence on “open innovation” strategies, suggesting not only some consistently positive effects, in particular from using customers as an external knowledge source, but also that some search strategies may not be beneficial;  and
  • evidence that R&D support programmes have heterogeneous effects on technology scouting – defined as firms’ use of external knowledge sources – including a crowding-out effect on informal sources of external knowledge but additionality with respect to  formal, strategic sources.

For convenience, the abstracts of all seven contributions are reproduced below

From the GPrix project:

  • Radicic, D., Pugh, G., Hollanders, H., Wintjes, J., and Fairburn, J. (2016). The impact of innovation support programs on small and medium enterprises innovation in traditional manufacturing industries: An evaluation for seven European Union regions. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 34(8) (December): 1425-1452. First published online December 18, 2015. doi:10.1177/0263774X15621759 

Abstract

We evaluate the effect of innovation support programs on output innovation by small and medium enterprises in traditional manufacturing industry. This focus is motivated by a definition of traditional manufacturing industry that includes capacity for innovation, and by evidence of its continued importance in European Union employment. We conducted a survey in seven European Union regions to generate the data needed to estimate pre-published switching models by means of the copula approach, from which we derived treatment effects on a wide range of innovation outputs. We find that for participants the estimated effects of innovation support programs are positive, typically increasing the probability of innovation and of its commercial success by around 15%. Yet, we also find that a greater return on public investment could have been secured by supporting firms chosen at random from the population of innovating traditional sector small and medium enterprises. These findings indicate the effectiveness of innovation support programs while suggesting reform of their selection procedures.

Keywords

Small and medium enterprises, evaluation, traditional manufacturing, innovation support, innovation outputs

Abstract

Innovation support measures in the EU are mostly designed to support product innovation in R&D intensive sectors. To increase the still considerable contribution to regional employment and competitiveness from SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries a broader innovation (policy) mix is more appropriate. This paper draws data from a survey of more than 300 SMEs from seven regions within the European Union, as well as case studies, to address the question: How can innovation policy interventions be improved to support SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries more effectively? We claim that innovation support should be sensitive to the way SMEs in traditional manufacturing sectors innovate and grow. We find that product innovation (and support used for product innovation) is less likely to generate growth, than (support used for) process innovation. Also (support used for) marketing innovations and organizational innovations are of particular importance – together with internationalization, design and cooperation. The increasingly selective application procedures applied are not the most efficient to generate impact, since those who are supported (and those who are supported more frequently), are the ones who are most likely to take the same innovative steps anyhow, irrespective of policy support.

Keywords

Innovation; SMEs; traditional sectors; low-tech; policy evaluation; manufacturing; process innovation

Part 2 of this article can be found here

Email g.t.pugh@staffs.ac.uk or jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk

Where will we work post-Covid?

by Vanessa Oakes,Course Director

As we move through the Government’s Roadmap to ‘normality’ over the next few months, employers will be starting to consider what this may mean for staff returning to office environments. Many staff who have been able to work from home throughout the pandemic have reported increased productivity, better work life balance, saving time and money through the elimination of the commute, as well as many other benefits.

There have been some drawbacks, particularly where staff have had to juggle home-schooling and caring responsibilities, but as these staff become able to return to a normal working routine, it is likely that they will start to experience some of the same benefits as their colleagues

A recent YouGov survey showed that 91% of respondents surveyed who have been able to work from home during the pandemic, want to continue to do so at least some of the time. This pressure from employees (who have proved that they can successfully work from home), should be a catalyst for most organisations to make changes to the levels of flexibility they will allow. If organisations choose not to offer greater levels of flexibility in WHERE staff work, they may see their employees move to a competitor who IS willing this. More and more frequently ‘working from home’ can be found on job advertisements for professionals, allowing these organisations to take advantage of the changing demands of employees, and  opening their vacancies to a much wider talent pool, giving them more choice in their chosen candidate.

Of course, organisations in some sectors have always been prepared to offer high levels of flexibility of working hours and location and have found the transition to working from home a case of ‘business as usual’. At least a third of the workforce pre-Covid had some access to homeworking, but anecdotes suggest remote working was reserved for management, those who were highly valued or those who had sympathetic managers.

What the ‘mass working from home experiment’ over the last year has taught us is that everyone in our organisations can benefit from a level of flexibility, and the organisation will benefit in return through higher levels of engagement and commitment. Consider another benefit to increasing flexibility, the ability to truly open vacancies to more diverse candidates, from those with disabilities for whom homeworking would be much easier, to increasing the number of women in the workforce (and in senior roles) through allowing more flexibility around WHEN the work can be done.

Vanessa Oakes
Vanessa Oakes

One of the main challenges to remote working has been around managing (or monitoring) performance. This link between presence and performance has been prevalent in sectors where a judgement about performance is not based on measurable KPIs, rather about the complexity of work and behaviours demonstrated in performing it. This could provide challenges to organisations who are willing to improve the flexibility which they offer. This raises a series of questions for managers and leaders:

  • What does ‘good’ work look like? This will be a question that needs to be answered by each manager as they attempt to define what their performance expectations are within the new parameters of work.
  • Are managers communicating their expectations clearly enough?
  • Are they making themselves available, but not inserting themselves unnecessarily into the working day of their teams?
  • And most importantly, are they developing relationships built on trust with each of their team members? It is these relationships that will determine the success of the flexible working strategy and will allow the organisation to take advantage of the many financial and intangible benefits of a flexible workforce for the foreseeable future.

We are now recruiting for cohort 5 of the Small Business Leadership Programme (free and starting 30th March) and Vanessa will be covering this topic in more depth on this course.

Vanessa Oakes on linkedin,Email Vanessa.Oakes@staffs.ac.uk

20 years’ smart city research marching on – what’s next?

Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean Research and Enterprise, Staffordshire Business School


By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in towns and cities, resulting in the consumption of over 70% of energy, and the emission of an equal amount of greenhouse gases (European Commission, 2019). The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating the challenges that cities have already been facing from multiple fronts such as rapid urbanisation, digital disruptions, demographic, climate and environmental changes, economic restructuring and reforms. Covid-19 is changing how urban residents live, work and commute and reshaping economic structures and business models. In the current global battle against Covid-19, smart cities have a pivotal role to play in responding to the crisis in terms of track-and-trace of coronavirus cases using smart technologies, enforcing social distancing rules, getting homeless people off the streets, and special emergency measures for care homes, to give just a few examples.

The concept of a smart city has been seen as a strategy to tackle the grand challenges facing urban planning and development. Smart city is a fuzzy word with various terms being used – intelligent city, digital city, green city, knowledge city, and smart sustainable city. Research on smart city can be traced back to the 1990s, taking on many perspectives, mostly in four aspects: the technological aspect including the technological infrastructure and support network for building smart cities, the socio-cultural aspect, or citizen engagement, the political-institutional aspect, such as government support and policies, and the economic-business aspect, namely business models and profitability.

A team of researchers (Prof Zhao, Dr Olushola Fashola, Dr Tolulope Olarewaju and Dr Ijeoma Onwumere) at Staffordshire Business School have been investigating what has been done in smart city research over the past 20 years. After a systematic and comprehensive literature review, the research team found that smart city research tends to revolve around six key areas: digital technology diffusion, smart city strategy and implementation, supply chains and logistics, urban planning and governance, smart city entrepreneurship and innovation, and Smart city evaluation and measurement. The team also identified four major challenges for small city research: (a) smart city research is often fragmented and technology-driven; (b) many studies are on perceived benefits of smart cities and fewer on the downsides of the effect of technologies and failure projects; (c) there is a need to build new theories for smart city research; and (d) there is a lack of empirical testing of the conceptual frameworks developed in smart city research. Furthermore, the team found that there was very limited research on crisis management in smart city before 2020. However, the research landscape is changing with emerging literature investigating how smart cities respond to crises and pandemics, and exploring strategies that can be used to tackle swiftly the crisis effectively at both strategic and operational levels.

Directions for future research and practice in smart cities are proposed.  If you want to know more and/or seeking for collaboration, please contact Prof Fang Zhao – Associate Dean Research and Enterprise at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.

Which to use: Quick Ratio or Current Ratio for Liquidity Measurement in business

Status

Mayowa AKINBOTE

Just as businesses are adapting to the shock of Brexit, the global pandemic presents another disruption to businesses. These two events have created huge uncertainty for most small businesses while some have benefited . The striving small businesses are revaluating their strengths with financial metrics to enhance their sustainability as the new markets are emerging. Financial metrics present small businesses with the opportunities to increase efficiency in their operations, liquidity, profitability and stability during uncertainty period. Some commentators argue that inadequate liquidity is the major reason small businesses collapse during the uncertainty period.

The quick ratio helps the business managers to evaluate their businesses financial liquidity. This informs the business managers of how current assets excluding inventories can be quickly converted to cash to meet their current liabilities. This ignores inventory because it is not easily converted to cash. Unlike the current ratio which considers inventory value, the quick ratio is generally viewed as the conservative evaluation of business liquidity as it’s based on the business most liquid assets. For instance, a business has current assets worth £40,000 of which inventory is £10,000, and £15,000 worth of current liabilities thus the business has a 2:1 quick ratio. This indicates that the business can afford to meet the short-term liabilities twice with the short-term assets.

Money

Businesses with a 1:1 or lower quick ratio could be at risk of becoming a going concern. Thus, small businesses with limited access to funds might fire sale their non-current assets to meet the current liabilities.

Many businesses have already closed due to Brexit and the global pandemic and it has been estimated that a further approximately, 98,000 small businesses might not survive the current pandemic. Thus, small business managers that are currently struggling to survive should pay attention to their financial metrics especially the quick ratio.

Unlike the quick ratio, many commentators argue that the current ratio cannot accurately evaluate some businesses short-term liquidity power. For instance, a retail business that targets seasonal customers will stock up inventory for the season. Thus, toward this period the current ratio rises and fall after the seasonal sales. Hence, the quick ratio would be best to evaluation the liquidity ability of such businesses as it ignores the inventory value.

However, other commentators argue that excluding the inventory value from the current assets could be an inefficient way of evaluating liquidity ability for some businesses. For instance, small business such as corner shops that a large percentage of their current assets are fast-moving inventory. Thus, excluding the inventory from the current asset would relatively inflate the current liability. Hence, the quick ratio will present an inaccurate picture of the business to cover their current liability with their most liquid assets.

In conclusion, business managers need to consider both the quick ratio and current ratio, especially during the uncertainty period. This would provide a more accurate measurement of their business ability to pay their short-term liabilities without being forced to fire sale their non-current asset.

Business managers need to ensure that the quick ratio and current ratio is not too excessive compared to other competitors in their sector as this could indicate poor control of working capital. This might suggest that the business is not turning over its inventory quickly enough or is carrying slow-moving or obsolete inventory and has poor credit control practices resulting in their customers delaying payments beyond the agreed terms.

STOP PRESS: We are now recruiting for cohort 5 of the Small Business Leadership Programme (free starts 30th March).

Mayowa Akinbote FCCA
Lecturer in Accounting and Finance
Staffordshire Business School
Staff Page: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/people/mayowa-akinbote
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/mayowa-akinbote-33448895

Innovation to survive and thrive Part 2

By Tanya Hemphill

Part 1 of Tanya’s article can be found here

STAGE TWO

Once you have used these initial basic filters to find the strongest ideas, the next stage is to use a more in-depth filter to make decisions on the remaining ideas. Day (2007) recommends using a risk matrix. The R-W-W matrix is based to three key questions:

  • Is it Real?
  • Can we Win?
  • Is it Worth doing?

This is expanded into the following set of questions:


Is it
real?

Is the market real?
Is there a need or desire
for the product?
Can the customer buy it?
Is the size of the
potential market
adequate?
Will the customer buy the
product?

Is the product real?
Is there a clear concept?
Can the product be made?
Will the final product satisfy
the market?

Can we
win?

Can the product be
competitive?

Does it have a competitive
advantage?
Can the advantage be
sustainable?
How will competitors
respond?

Can our company be
competitive?

Do we have superior
resources?
Do we have appropriate
management?
Can we understand and
respond to the market?

Is it worth doing?

Will the product be
profitable at an
acceptable risk?

Are forecasted returns
greater than costs?
Are the risks acceptable?

Does launching the product
make strategic sense?

Does the product fit our
overall growth strategy?
Will top management
support it?

STAGE THREE

Once a few viable marketing innovation ideas remain, the next stage is to consider the risks even further. This is where conducting a pre-mortem is a useful tool. This helps organisations identify the possible failures of a project before they happen and mitigate risk by pre-planning so that those failures don’t occur.

The following pre-mortem exercise has been adapted from Gray et al. (2010).

Activity
Step 1Imagine we are two years in the future.
Things have gone completely wrong.
What could have caused this? Generate a list of all the reassons failure occurred.

Step 2List all concerns and rank them to
deterimine priority
Step 3Address the 2 or 3 items of greatest
concern and list what actions you would
need to take to stop the issues
happening.

The list of risks and actions that need to be taken to mitigate the risk can be used as Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for an innovation or project launch.

Hopefully, this article has helped you think about the different types of innovation you can potentially pursue and how to evaluate the best route forward, using a systematic filtering process.

STOP PRESS -We are now recruting for cohort 5 of the Small Business Leadership Programme (free starts 30th March)

References

Day, G. (2007) Is it real? Can we win? Is it worth doing? Managing Risk and Reward in an Innovation Portfolio. [Online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2007/12/is-it-real-can-we-win-is-it-worth-doing-managing-risk-and-reward-in-an-innovation-portfolio (Accessed 11 February 2021).

Fisk, P. (2017). Gamechangers: Are you ready to change the World? Creating Innovative Strategies for Business and Brands. West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Gower, L. (2015) The Innovation Workout. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

Gray, D., Brown, S. & Macanufo, J. (2010) Game Storming: A Playbook for Inovators, Rulebreakers, an Changemakers. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Keeley, L., Pikkel, R., Quinn, B. and Walters, H. (2013). Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Osterwalder, A. and Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Free Small Business Leadership Programme – starts end of March

Supporting SME leaders to create resilience and manage uncertainty in 2021 and beyond

Access free ideas, guidance, peer & 121 support to help your business to manage the uncertainty of steering through the pandemic and impacts of Brexit for up to TWO leaders in your business.

Staffordshire Business School is supporting regional business by delivering free training in leadership and management to provide exactly what business needs most to build a resilient future.

This is cohort 5 of the SBLP and the positive impacts of previous cohorts are being felt across the region. Here is what Rhys from XP VR thought of the course

Why choose to be part of the Small Business Leadership Programme?
▪ Make your business more resilient
▪ Boost business performance and growth
▪ Create an innovative and agile organisation
▪ Recover from the impact of COVID-19
▪ Find solutions to the impact of Brexit
▪ Build leadership skills, confidence and effectiveness
▪ Plan for a solid future for your business
▪ Build lasting relationships with small business leaders
▪ Improve risk management and efficiency

When does the course start?
Tuesday the 30th March 2021 (1st webinar at 3pm)

If you would like to have a chat about the course then please email one of our experienced Entrepreneurs in Residence with your phone number and they will call you back,

Jane Pallister – Jane.Pallister@staffs.ac.uk
Emily Whitehead – emily@staffs.ac.uk
Jonathan Westlake – j.c.westlake@staffs.ac.uk

Here’s what another business thought of the course: Geoff Barton, General Manager of Canalside Farm in Great Haywood near Stafford said: “It’s allowed me to connect with other businesses, and I’ve learned much and managed to strengthen a few knowledge gaps and boost my handling of the business during these unique times.”

What’s involved?
Eligibility requirements
▪ Your business must be a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) based in England.
▪ Your business needs to employ between 5 and 249 people and have been operational for at least one year
▪ The participant should be a decision maker or member of the senior management team within the business with at least one person reporting directly to them.
▪ The participant must be able to commit to attending the full programme


Time commitment
The programme is designed to be manageable alongside full-time work and furloughed staff can join the programme.

Participants will attend 8×90- minute webinars across ten weeks, and complete up to 2 hours of independent development and peer-supported engagement per week.

Places are fully funded by the Government to support the resilience,
recovery and growth of SMEs during and after COVID-19. The programme
is completely free to attend but places are strictly limited.

Register Now
There are two ways to register.

  1. Email one of the Entrepreneurs in Residence as listed above and they
    will talk you through the process.
  2. Follow the simple instructions below (this takes 3 minutes) and we will
    be in touch:
    • Go to https://smallbusinesscharter.org/sblp-registration/
    • Choose ‘West Midlands’ from the pink vertical menu on the left
    • Scroll through the list of centres until you find Staffordshire University
    (start date 30th march) & click register

PLEASE NOTE: Your business can send up to two eligible delegates to this programme and delegates can be furloughed. Please do one registration for each person.

How COVID-19 Exposed The Ethnic Poverty and Enterprise Rift (Participate in Our Research)

Dr Tolu Olarewaju, Lecturer, Staffordshire business School


The British Academy (the United Kingdom’s national academy for the humanities and the social sciences) has tasked us with investigating the specific challenges that UK business owners faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the strategies that they used to keep their businesses afloat, and how they engaged with financial and regional support.

We are also interested in how best to support members of the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) business community.

To participate in our study, kindly fill the survey below and/or please share the URL with your networks if you know any other business owners:

URL: http://staffordshire.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_50kNUNYOKJFFQNM

Photograph: benjamin lehman | URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/gkZ-k3xf25w | Unsplash

Ethnic minorities were particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and US, as in some other countries. In particular, the risk of death for some ethnic minority individuals who contracted COVID-19 in these countries was two to three times more compared to white individuals.

This disparity was a result of the underlying social and economic risk factors that ethnic minorities face, such as living in overcrowded and urban accommodation, being employed in riskier lower-skilled jobs, reduced access to healthcare, and structural racism. In other words, ethnic poverty in developed countries is driving higher infection and consequently death rates for ethnic minorities.

Drivers of Ethnic Poverty

Underlying the drivers of poverty for ethnic minorities in many developed countries are several socio-economic factors which include historical factors, discrimination, educational and entrepreneurial variations, and employment and pay disparities between ethnic groups.

Despite facsimile policies that emphasize equal access to education and employment in many developed countries, discrimination remains a critical barrier to equal employment. Several studies have found that both ethnic minorities are called back for interviews 50% less frequently than comparable whites, hired less often for high-skill jobs, and once hired are paid less. Thus, despite the increasing educational gains made by ethnic minority individuals, many are overqualified for the jobs that they do. Ethnic minority workers also often report not being given pay rises and being passed over for promotion.

Another very important driver for the disproportionately high poverty rates among ethnic minority groups is the concentration of such workers in low-paid work. Ethnic minority workers are more likely to work in low-paid sectors with limited progression opportunities and lower wages. Lack of movement out of low-paid work increases the risk of poverty among ethnic groups. In addition, there is generally a lower percentage of ethnic minority workers who are managers, directors, and senior officials.

Photograph: Maria Oswalt URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/qFkVFe9_d38 | Unsplash

Business Ownership Disparities

Before the pandemic, BAME business owners were less likely than non-BAME business owners to obtain mainstream business support and in the early days of coronavirus, nearly two-thirds of BAME business owners felt unable to access state-backed loans and grants, leaving many on the brink of financial ruin.

BAME-owned businesses are traditionally concentrated in the sectors worst hit by lockdown such as retail, health and social care, education, restaurants and accommodation.

The economic crisis facing these businesses is aggravated by the fact that they are more likely to hire a considerable number of BAME employees and attract more BAME customers. The significantly higher risk among such groups from COVID-19 implies that these businesses would have had to incur considerable costs to protect their staff and customers.

Solutions

Ethnic minorities consistently report reduced access to education, lack of social and financial capital, unemployment, low-pay, and poor progression from low-paid sector work. This suggests similar solutions for all groups, which would lead to better-quality jobs and higher pay. However, given that some of the drivers of poverty, such as higher unemployment and inactivity rates disproportionately affect ethnic groups, specific forms of outreach activity and drawing on local knowledge may be needed in these contexts.

Similarly, government solutions to reduce ethnic poverty in developed country contexts include interventions that ensure that education, training and apprenticeships are provided for ethnic minorities as well as schemes that help tackle low pay among ethnic minority workers. There is a need for policies that focus the on education, skills and training for ethnic groups particularly digital, literacy, and numeracy skills. Moreover, policies should also be encouraged that monitor the workforce in relation to ethnicity, which should include the recruitment, retention and progression phases of jobs.

Authorities need to work with employers to provide better-paid jobs and they should do more to listen to and encourage employers to hire a diverse range of skills and experiences. It is advisable to consider putting targets for ethnic minority representation on boards, something that has proven successful in the case of gender. It is also important to recognise the benefits of positive discrimination in the labour market, rather than view legislation to combat ethnic inequality as red tape or political correctness. Mortgage market discrimination needs to be eliminated as this would allow ethnic minorities to take advantage of the benefits that come with owning a home.

State-backed grants and loans should be made more accessible as an incentive to business owners who have incurred additional costs to protect customers and staff. Crucially, the process to obtain them should not be too onerous and the criteria should be fair. Regional governments should also take care to plug BAME businesses into the supply chains of local projects in response to the pandemic.

Source: Author

All these should reduce ethnic poverty and the economic and health inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted.

Don’t forget to participate in our research if you a business owner: http://staffordshire.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_50kNUNYOKJFFQNM

Notes: Excerpts for this essay was taking from my book chapter: “Ethnic Poverty: Causes, Implications, and Solutions” available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344725834_Ethnic_Poverty_Causes_Implications_and_Solutions

Need help with Digital Marketing in 2021? Opportunities from Staffordshire Business School

The pandemic has illustrated how important a good website, good ecomerce offer and good social media are to business. Those that already had these established have been able to keep taking orders and in many cases to pivot their business.

We are now offering again the opportunity for a student placement to assist you with your digital marketing needs. Have a look here at projects completed in 2020 to get an idea of what is possible.

To get our Masters students ready for the industry we have two modules:

  1. ‘The Management of a Digital Marketing Project’ – this module will prepare a tri-partite agreement between the student, the academic staff and the organisation as to the focus of the project, existing benchmark measures, what is to be achieved and how to make the project sustainable (so that it can continue after the student leaves). This is carried out between January to March/April
  2. The Work Based Digital Marketing Project – a credit work experience (450 hours) to deliver the project with the organisation concerned. (April to August)

The project can be in any type of organisation e.g. private sector, public sector, charity or a university. It is essential for the work project activity to take place at the premises – many of the projects have been remotely delivered due to COVID.

We have built in flexibility to the work-placement so it could be that you would like a portfolio of tasks to be completed rather than just one main project. Examples could be – creation of a digital marketing strategy, audit and re-launch of social media, budget and investment plan for marketing, devising and implementing a training plan for existing staff.

Below are some of the current students – either reach out to them directly or contact jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk

Jessica Bell

Jessica Bell
Jessica Bell – Ideally, I would like a placement within events or tourism, but I’m very flexible and I am open to offers.

I recently completed my bachelors degree in Tourism Management, in which I obtained a First Class honours. I am now studying a masters degree in Digital Marketing.

I am extremely enthusiastic about travelling and understanding different cultures around the world. I decided to take an internship during my gap year where I worked in a prestige country club in South Florida for 7 months and later I worked in a country club in Connecticut for the remaining 5 months. After I completed my degree my manager in Connecticut asked me to go back to work for them for another year in 2019. During my time in America I worked in the front of house as a bartender and server, I worked events, worked on the reception and worked in the office helping to plan events and create content for the clubs website. Aside from working in America, I also have voluntary experience working for the Stone Food and Drink Festival 2018, as well as becoming a student representative for my course. 

During my time at university I worked with a number of different softwares including SPSS, Excel, PowerPoint and I also obtained a Microsoft Office Specialist for Word in 2019. I also have experience working with small social media advertising campaigns to build a brand image

Overall I am strong team player, I have good work ethics and I’m a fast learner that can work independently as well as in a team if needed. Ideally, I would like a placement within events or tourism, but I’m very flexible and I am open to offers.

Further contact details can be found from my LinkedIn profile or email jessica.bell9107@gmail.com

Paige Sinclair

Paige Sinclair
Paige Sinclair

I have recently graduated with a 2:1 in BA (Hons.) Event Management. Previous to that I completed a National Vocational Qualification level 3 in Hospitality supervisor and leadership at Cardiff.

I am currently working as a team member at Staffordshire University Student Union bar. For my volunteer work, I had experience working with Channel 4 and at the Stone Food and Drink Festival.

Before this, I helped out at events that were hosted by the college which includes the chef forum and local MP conference, and at a hospitality competition. The skills that I have are customer service, good at solving problems, have a positive attutude to everything I do, good communication both written and oral, time-management, reliable, and confident talking to new people. I also have computer skills that include Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and confident in using social media. Additionally, I am opened minded and can adapt to new environments as well as willing to learn new things.

Linkedin here or email at paigesinclair97@hotmail.com

Verity Adams

Verity Adams
Verity Adams

In 2018 I graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Computer Science at Keele University. Whilst undertaking my degree, I worked as an IT Intern for a houseware distribution company. After graduation, I started working as a Junior Graphic Designer for Dee Set, a company that focuses on driving growth, market share and ROI to a large range of clients, such as ASDA, Tesco and Wilkinsons. I then quickly progressed into a more senior Graphic Designer role within a Digital Marketing company, BWAR Ltd. I opened my own Digital Marketing business ‘Yello Dog’ in December 2019. To assist me with running my business and further my knowledge and experience of Digital Marketing, I decided to apply for a MSc Digital Marketing Management Degree at Staffordshire University.

My work experience and qualifications have provided me with an extensive and broad skillset. My Computer Science degree has enabled me to understand the technicalities associated with building websites, computer software and assist with many digital trends of today. My role as a Graphic Designer has provided me with an understanding of brand identity, digital marketing and social media. Owning my own business has given me the opportunity to obtain and work with my own clients, identify ways of marketing my own business and manage my own projects and deadlines.

Linkedin profile and email me verity@yellodog.co.uk

Sruthy AB

Sruthy AB
Sruthy AB

I have graduated with 1st class BSc (Hons) Computer Science and 1st class MBA (Post-grad) degree in HRM and marketing specializations. Due to my keen interest and evolving technologies in Digital marketing and its immediate growth in a new dimension, I am pursuing my 2nd Master in digital marketing management with Staffordshire University.

I have  gained eight years of corporate experience internationally  with leading IT companies from leading markets such as Asia (India), Middle East (Dubai) and Europe (UK ) with wide range of expertise in the field of business technologies management, solutions automation (such as ERP/CRM/ED-Tech/E-learning solutions), SAAS model implementation, digital marketing management & content creation, performance analysis, brand management, SEO and corporate website management including email & online marketing, PR & CSR activities promotion and media management etc.

I am currently looking for a project with a reputed organisation that challenges me with my expertise & skills to excel in my career and helps me to gain further experience in digital marketing & management. Moreover, being multilinguistic I am always a great team player and I want to help organizations to grow in the new dimensions of digital marketing and experience its potential. Ideally, I would like a placement within IT sector, but would not mind if it’s an exceptional offer from other fields. Contact information – Sruthy AB | LinkedIn /Email Sruthyab@gmail.com

Sandra Decowska

Sandra Decowska
Sandra Decowska – bilingual in English and Polish

I have graduated with a BA (Hons) in Tourism Management at Staffordshire University with Upper Second (2:1) and I am now studying an MSc in Digital Marketing Management.

Bi-lingual – fluent in both Polish and English.

Recently, I have experience working as a Planning Distributor at TK Maxx Newcastle-under-Lyme. In this role I am working closely with the planning and distribution team. This role is office based within a very busy, fast-paced environment.

This has taught me a lot of transferable skills such as computing skills, implementation new team strategies, efficiently manage the office duties, dealing with administration, customers and suppliers.

My ideal placement if possible would be within the events, tourism or hospitality industry. However, I am willing to try anything new that may broaden my knowledge and skills.

If you would like to contact me, my details are:

Linkedin or email me sdec2977@gmail.com

Arnold Tembo

Arnold Tembo
Arnold Tembo

I have recently graduated with​ a BA (Hons) in Business Management. Having grown up in a small family business which sold food and beverages, I have been able to gain insider knowledge of how to run a business successfully. When studying Business Management at university I successfully created a business from scratch working within a small team.


I have previously worked as a Healthcare Assistant and much recently as a Call Handler at an urgent care centre. By working in these positions, I have learned to become a more compassionate person, as I show more kindness and empathy towards other people in my daily life.

I have a passion for Digital Marketing that is why I am pursuing a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Management. The master’s course has taught me how digital marketing strategies can be applied to a business and given me extensive knowledge on different marketing tools. For the last year I have been running a blog on Instagram and WordPress. This experience has made me efficient in creating content that connects with diverse audiences and have gained solid understanding of different media platforms.

I am a highly creative individual on the other hand I am extremely analytical, what separates me from a lot of people is my enormous desire to learn. I am looking for a placement in an organisation that will help me gain further experience and knowledge in Digital Marketing. If you would like to contact me, email me at : tembo.aj@outlook.com

If you wish to take a look at my blog, you can find It on Instagram: arnoldwrites_blog or if you want to take a look at my blog on WordPress: ARNOLD WRITES – BLOG (wordpress.com)

Niamh Beer

Nimah Beer
Niamh Beer – runs her own Etsy shop

I have a BA (Hons) English Literature (2-year fast track) where for my placement I worked with my own small Etsy Business and focused on the importance of Social Media in the online marketplace. Creating my Etsy shop enabled me to learn about SEO as well as the use of their marketing services as well as those which are provided by different social media platforms.

 My interest in the sector is within social media as I feel like I understand it well and have been a user for more than a decade. I have used my knowledge of Social Media to run a Twitter account for a small business a family member was starting and help with brand building. This was great experience for me as I was able to learn what went well and what could be improved on. I currently am applying the skills I am learning in my Digital Marketing Management MSc to my own Etsy shop which has seen great improvement. I am experienced in using analytics as well as identifying different demographics, I also have the ability to create Marketing Communications Plans and Global Digital Marketing strategies.

I am a quick learner and am always enthused to learn more in order to further my career. I am looking for a placement which can enable me to enhance my skills and can challenge me. Email me b010250h@student.staffs.ac.uk

Jack Dutton

Jack Dutton
Jack Dutton experienced in film and video

I currently have a BA Experimental Film Production (First class). My experience ranges from volunteer to paid work, as well for my own interest. My main skills lie in social media and videography, which I have an extensive knowledge of. I have a range of experience creating content whether it is for business or different groups. Primarily this is promotional materials, such as logos, business cards, and videos such as trailers or adverts.

I have a keen interest in Digital Marketing, specifically around content curation and social media management. I am currently undertaking an MSc in Digital Marketing Management. Before starting my course, I have worked with Staffordshire University to introduce prospective students to camera equipment and walkthrough the film courses at the university. In addition, I have worked with Stoke Council to go into schools to deliver presentations around anti-smoking, and then work with groups of students to produce these anti-smoking messages into short films. I also currently hold an FLT licence which I gained whilst working at B&Q .

At present I am looking for a project or work placement that helps me further my experience in digital marketing, in order to develop my skills and pursue a career in the future within the industry.

Contact information: – Email: jackadamdutton@gmail.com

James Gooch

James Gooch
James Gooch lots of expertise in sound production

I have recently completed my BSc (Hons) Sound Design in which I obtained a 2:1, this focussed on sound for visual media. I strengthened my skills in digital media, including sound for film, TV and games using tools such as Logic Pro X (Certified Pro), Pro tools ultimate and Adobe Audition and Premiere. I comprehensively studied music production and technology including use of industry standard hardware. Within this time I also improved my skills using Adobe Photoshop and completed my certification as an associate in visual design. I also obtained experience within Microsoft Office, namely Word, PowerPoint and Excel. I also have a lot of experience with virtual meeting rooms such as Microsoft teams.

Within my pursuit of an MSc in Digital Marketing Management I have gained skills and knowledge of content marketing, marketing strategy and planning, SEO, email marketing and social media marketing. I would love to further my experience in all of these aspects of digital marketing specifically SEM gaining hands on experience with PPC and other digital marketing tools.

I have recently been successful acquiring a digital marketing role within a B2B company in which I can further my knowledge and experience in social media, content curation/creation, SEO, website management, visual design and analytics. Within this role I am gaining experience with tools such as Zoho, WordPress and Google analytics.

My experience mostly consists of customer facing roles, this includes seasons abroad with PGL Travel in Spain and France, Customer team member at Coop (ongoing) as well Student Ambassador for Staffordshire University advocating the university on open days as well as with the Unibuddy chat service (ongoing).

Don’t hesitate to connect with me on my LinkedIn

If you would like to discuss how we can benefit each-other please contact me: Gooch.James@hotmail.co.uk