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Barclays Scale Up UK Programme modules

Key areas to achieve growth

Members of the Cambridge Judge Business School outline the core modules of the Barclays Scale Up UK Programme.

Key challenges

The Barclays Scale Up UK Programme addresses the key challenges businesses, founders and their senior management teams face in scaling. The programme covers:
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Growth modules
  • Operational excellence and culture
  • People
  • Funding

You can find out more from the programme leaders below.

  • Strategy
    Knowing and understanding customer needs

    Professor Stelios Kavadias, Director at the Cambridge Judge Business School, explains how to look at your business like your customers do.

    During your business’ growth phase, your strategy can get left behind as you try to keep up with the day-to-day hustle and bustle. Take the time to re-evaluate and assess your growing customer base. This could shine a light on a new opportunity or something worse – a missed opportunity.

    “In order to realise any potential for growth, it’s imperative to understand your business’ strategic ambition and how your customer needs fit into this. If they don’t, you may have misunderstood your strategy,” says Stelios, “and correcting this may help to enable growth.

    “Often, businesses have a particular view of their key attributes – what they offer, how they rate against their competitors and how they want to be perceived. But when they validate those perspectives with actual customers, it’s surprising how often they are misaligned.”

    This misalignment isn’t a bad thing, though – once you identify it, you can turn it into an opportunity, and the gaps can be cultivated into growth. Meeting your customers’ needs underpins all great strategies and taking the time to realign your strategy can pay dividends. This isn’t easy, but the time you spend today will stop you missing any opportunities down the line.

    Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.

  • Marketing
    Change the way you think about marketing

    Eden Yin, course leader and senior lecturer at Cambridge Judge Business School, challenges what you think you know about marketing: “A lot of understanding about marketing is completely wrong.”

    It’s natural to think of competing as the path to the top, but going toe-to-toe with your competition isn’t always healthy. Having a long-term strategic goal instead will prove more valuable for your business.

    Eden gives a great example of this: “Marketing is strategy, not tactics. It's not about just putting an ad somewhere on social media and hoping it’ll achieve amazing results. It's a cultural thing.”

    One way to “achieve amazing results” is to figure out what your market demands and focus on fulfilling those demands. This means using the right products and services, at the right time and place. Eden suggests engraining this “market-orientated organisation” in your company, from the top down.

    To understand your market, you should undertake research regularly. Eden suggests gathering customer insight for your business, and he’s developed a framework that gives you a holistic view of your marketing and identifies your business’ strengths and weaknesses.

    When it comes to growth, you’ll need to build a story rather than pushing your product. It should convey how your product could fit in with your consumers’ lifestyle and what benefit it gives them over and above just being a product.

    “Growth means selling more, putting it simply,” Eden summarises. “Selling more means you need a very compelling customer-value proposition. [Don’t] push your product harder – growth is a matter of satisfying customer need, and that's in the remit of marketing.”

    Quotations have been edited for length and clarity.

  • Operational excellence and culture
    Perfect your processes

    Feryal Erhun, of the Cambridge Judge Business School, explains how taking a step back to break down processes can help you give your business a shot in the arm.

    Although the ‘P word’ can often be an afterthought for many businesses when launching an idea, market research firm IDC highlights that 20 to 30% of lost revenue can be down to poor process1.

    “When you're in growth mode, one of the things that you don’t really pay too much attention to is operational excellence – to the process,” says Feryal.

    “Processes are anything that repeat themselves, so it's important to understand how they are interlinked and how they work. If we can document them, then that's a great opportunity to improve them.”

    Your evaluation of internal processes can highlight a business’ strengths and allow for the introduction of a far more efficient and effective operating model.

    “When people can see the end-to-end journey documented, they can immediately identify where changes can be made and efficiency built,” explains Feryal.

    Building a transparent operating model allows businesses to develop a greater level of resilience and enables a strong foundation from which growth can occur. Identifying ‘what ifs’ and proactively planning for unforeseen circumstances can mean the difference between success and failure.

    As your company grows, new staff with varied backgrounds might bring a fresh perspective on how old processes can be improved. In turn, they might also bring new working models, which future-proof your business and improve efficiency.

    Quotations have been edited for length and clarity.

  • People
    Find your team and use their voices

    Philip Stiles, from the Cambridge Judge Business School, outlines how you can assemble the best team, and retain them as your business grows.

    Philip breaks leadership down into three things – leadership of the self, of the team and of the organisation as a whole.

    Self- leadership

    Leadership of the self is the skill required to be an entrepreneur, to build a business, to network, to collaborate.

    “It’s about the emotional drive required, the courage and the resilience it takes to grow a business in a competitive market,” Philip says.

    Being self-aware and true to yourself is incredibly important, and even more so as an entrepreneur. The decisions you make will directly impact the direction of the business, the success, the failures and the culture from within.

    Team leadership

    Leadership of the team is critically important in a scaling business. Philip thinks there’s a common error made by start-ups: “Often, businesses can place emphasis on the heroic leader; but in reality it's important to recognise the teams that underpin the business’s operational success.”

    The composition and dynamics of the team need to be right, and a common problem for start-up and scale-up companies is recruiting the talent they need, when often they’re unheard of and can’t offer attractive remuneration or benefits.

    “For a blue-chip company, it's easy to get great talent,” Philip says. “But when you're in a start-up or scale-up, those things are harder to come by. That said, within a smaller company it’s easier to be a big fish in a small pond – the chance to make a difference is potentially huge.”

    Once the right team is in place, with the right dynamic, how do you keep them? Leadership of the organisation plays a pivotal role in this.

    Organisational leadership

    Retaining and developing talent in a high growth organisation is a challenge, particularly when business leaders are focused on driving market share.

    The businesses that are most likely to succeed, says Philip, are those with a strong leadership team, dedicated to self-development and building a recognisable culture across its workforce. If employees have a sense of belonging, they are more likely to remain loyal to the company and feel empowered to drive the company forward with fresh ideas.

    Quotations have been edited for length and clarity.

  • Funding
    Is funding the only fuel for growth?

    Hanadi Jabado, Colin Oakman and Tim Rea from the Cambridge Judge Business School explain how businesses can keep growing, while still generating capital.

    While funding is one important way to accelerate your company’s growth, it isn’t the only tool to support your growth trajectory. More often than not it’s down to the ambition of your founder and your management team.

    Many entrepreneurs are quick to reach out for funding without considering if they actually need those funds, and more importantly: they don’t consider how they’ll use this capital.

    The decision to seek capital is usually based on marketing, recruitment, and research and development, but it’s important to consider your business’ full growth strategy before you put all of your focus into funding.

    “Funding might not be necessary, once you’ve built your full growth plan,” says Colin. “There’s an overwhelming reliance and obsession with start-ups reaching out for funding, without first considering reinvesting profits to promote growth.”

    One way growth companies might fail is by placing too much emphasis on securing funding, at the expense of other areas of their business. “As a start-up, if somebody's offering you money, you’ll go for it and you might not understand that it can be a distraction,” says Hanadi.

    “It’s also important to remember that all investors will ultimately be expecting a return on their investment,” says Tim. “I see a lot of companies that – even with a good business and understanding of what they want to do – fail to understand how to engage with investors, how to support them through an investment process, and how to engage with them after they’ve invested.”

    Quotations have been edited for length and clarity.

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