Filling the skills gap

Employment and Skills

Every business complains of skills gaps holding their business back.

But now, with a little help from the West of England’s Growth Hub, you can start filling those gaps and growing that business of yours.

Most skills gaps fall into one of the following categories.

  1. Customer service

We all know what good and bad customer service looks like. Good and bad experiences influence our future purchasing decisions and, more importantly, influence others as we are much more likely to share our bad experiences than our good.

What is good service? It’s a tough question and one where the specifics will depend on what type of business you are in. So rather than come up with a specific answer, consider for a moment the benefits.

Good customer service leads to:

Everything your business does should be compared and benchmarked against this list of benefits. If what you are doing doesn’t lead to a strong relationship, customer loyalty, repeat business or customer advocacy, then you are offering poor customer service.

Businesses owners need to continually review the way they do business to ensure their customers are treated as they would like to be. Going the extra mile makes customers feel special and that their custom is important.

  1. Sales 

We are all born with the ability to be great sales people. Sales is all about negotiating and persuading someone to do something based on desire and favourable outcomes. Just watch a child wrap a parent round their little finger and you’ll learn everything you need to know about sales.

Some people however are better sales people than others. They are passionate about their product, they are confident, they concentrate on the benefits, they build trust through honesty and look for win/win situations where both they and the customer benefits. Good sales people know that price is not the only thing in the negotiating toolbox and that quality and service can be equally important.

On the Growth Hub you’ll find a wealth of help, support and training courses to help your company develop its sales force.

Just click here.

  1. Admin

As a business owner, I’m sure you love filling in tax returns, getting your receipts in order and mulling over the latest legislation impacting your business.


The truth is, very few business owners are natural administrators and most take to administrative tasks like a brick to water. They had an idea that they were passionate about, turned it into a viable business and all this admin malarkey is an irritating distraction from what they do best.

Don’t despair, on the Growth Hub you’ll find help and support to make business admin a whole lot easier. There are tools and tricks that can be learnt from the Growth Hub providers to simplify your admin processes.

You may even find someone who could handle all your admin requirements allowing you to concentrate on the parts of your business that your best at.

To find out more, click here.

  1. Marketing

Marketing is the fun bit of any business. It’s the bit where you get to shout about how good, cool and worthwhile your product or service is. Do it right and your business will take off and soar. Get it wrong and your business will struggle and could even fail.

There are so many ways to spread the word: TV, radio, magazines, direct mail, social media, website, search engines, PR… the list goes on and on.

Nineteenth century Philadelphia retailer John Wanamaker supposedly said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” Nothing much has changed, although there are few tricks that can be used to maximise the response you get to any advertising campaign.

Start with getting to know your customers and the triggering events that cause them to want your product or service. Then ask yourself three questions:

Build your campaigns around these three questions and you won’t go far wrong.

Be brave, be different and be memorable.

When it comes to marketing the temptation is to give it a go yourself, after all how hard can it be? Marketing can be expensive in both time and money so, before you give in to  temptation, take professional advice. There are lots of providers on the Growth Hub who can steer you in the right direction and minimise your costs and effort.

Click here for help and support.

  1. Leadership and management

William Shakespeare once wrote, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

Most small business owners fall into the second or third category. They start with a simple idea for a great business and, before they know it, they’re employing staff, expanding their operation and everyone is looking to them for leadership, guidance and direction.

To most people the responsibility of leadership doesn’t come easy. It can be very overwhelming, especially when the livelihood of your staff depends on you making the correct decisions.

The good news is that leadership and management skills can be taught, coached and developed. It’s a good investment of time and money for any company and you can get help and advice from our providers on the Growth Hub.

Click here for more details.

  1. Finance

Every business needs finance. You need finance to start a business, cash flow to maintain your business and more finance if you wish to expand. The sources of finance are many and varied and include: overdrafts, trade credits, factoring, loans, debentures and grants.

Then, once you have the finance in place you need to control it through accounting and budgeting spreadsheets.

Finance can be a daunting area for any business, especially if you don’t have the necessary financial and accounting skills.

Our Growth Hub providers are there to help you navigate your way through the world of finance by:

Click here for details

  1. Project management

Project management is an underrated skill that is often overlooked.

A project involves initiating, planning, executing, controlling, budgeting and organising resources to achieve a specific short-term goal within a specified amount of time. Project management is the challenge of achieving this within a company’s constraints.

Many business owners have the skills to run a business on a daily basis, but it needs a different form of thinking to successfully deliver a project.

You can master the skills required by talking to the training providers on the Growth Hub. They will help you obtain the skills you need to deliver all projects, big and small, through to a successful conclusion, completed on time and within budget.

Click here for more information.

  1. Coaching and mentoring

Renee West of the Luxor and Excalibur Hotel said, “You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.”

Every successful business is built on team of highly motivated individuals who share the company’s values and objectives. A motivated team knows that their individual efforts are valued and appreciated and that they are supported to achieve their full potential.

The process of motivating your team is coaching and mentoring.

Holding regular coaching sessions with your team enables you to explain the company’s overall objectives and allows your staff to feedback information regarding practical improvements to overcome challenges.

For help with coaching and mentoring, talk to one of the Growth Hub’s training providers. It doesn’t take a lot to obtain the skills you need and the difference it could make to your company’s bottom line is significant.

For advice on coaching and mentoring click here.

  1. Human Resources

Someone once said, “If you think hiring professionals is expensive, you should try hiring amateurs!” Taking that one step further, Steve Wynn of Wynn Las Vegas said, “Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.”

Employing staff is probably the single most important thing that a business owner can do. And yet, because it’s something that most businesses don’t do on a regular basis, the employment process is rarely given the time and effort it deserves.

The success of an enterprise is solely in the hands of its employees and therefore the employment process should created to ensure the right candidate is employed for the right role.

The Growth Hub can help put you in touch with HR providers who can not only guide you through the recruitment process, but also help with ongoing issues to do with employee rights, pensions, holidays, discipline etc.

Click here for more details.

  1. Tech

Most businesses today rely heavily on digital technology. It’s how they communicate with employees and customers; store their records, process their invoices and handle their finances. Simply put, without digital technology, most companies could not survive in the modern age.

There are two problems with this. Firstly, when it goes wrong, it really goes wrong and businesses are totally paralysed. Secondly, technology changes so quickly that today’s technical solutions are soon outdated and can result in competitors gaining a significant commercial advantage.

The Growth Hub can put you in touch with providers who can: keep your technology running smoothly, advise you of all the latest developments and help you develop your IT skills and knowledge. Our providers can help you reap the benefits of today’s digital landscape and prepare your business for the future.

Click here for more information.