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Hideout Coffee - City Guide 2022

Enhance and grow your business

Fully-funded training for business leaders

Running a business at the moment can be lonely and frustrating. You might be facing a number of challenges at the same time and you might be fighting on many fronts. If you're a business owner or senior manager in a small to medium sized company Help to Grow Management training programme will help you meet today's business challenges.

This is a 12-week short programme designed to help your boost your business performance. We'll help you to extend your peer network, access the high-quality contacts you have been seeking, and support you with 1:1 bespoke mentoring for your business


  • You must be in a senior management role (a decision-maker and/or member of the senior management team), with at least one direct report
  • The business you work in must have been operating for at least 1 year
  • Your business must have between 5 and 249 employees
  • If your business employs between 5 and 9 people, then only one person can take part in this programme
  • If your business employs between 10 and 249 people, then two people can take part in this programme 
  • You must commit to attending sessions

View upcoming dates

The programme

'Help To Grow: Management' is a three-month, online and face-to-face practical management training programme.

Portsmouth Business School delivers the programme, which is accredited by the Small Business Charter (SBC) and is supported by the Department for Business and Trade.

This is a fully-funded programme: 90% funded by government and 10% from Portsmouth Business School via bursary (we cover the standard £750 fee).

This is not just another government scheme. The programme gets right to the heart of the issues you're facing, but that you may struggle to solve alone. The course is practical, and you don’t need an academic background. We'll support you every step of the way.

As part of the Help to Grow Management programme, you'll get:

  • 1:1 bespoke mentoring for your business (10 sessions) with experienced coaching professionals from the industry
  • A facilitator at the start of the programme to direct your journey and ensure you are introduced to the people who can make a difference in your business
  • The platform to create a network of trusted suppliers and gain PR and media opportunities, as part of a dedicated private LinkedIn group to share your businesses’ successes and create business development opportunities for your company
  • Insights and skills to help you boost your business’s performance, resilience, and long-term growth
  • 8 facilitated online 2-hour sessions
  • 4 practical and interactive case study workshops
  • Peer networking calls, including group calls, that give you the opportunity to share experiences with a small group of other small business leaders

‘’Having the opportunity to discuss business challenges with like-minded individuals has been invaluable, as well as the 1-2-1 mentor support which is an excellent addition.’’

Georgina Bula, Help to Grow participant

Subjects you'll explore

  • Strategy and innovation
  • Building vision and brand
  • Adopting digital technology
  • Growing national and international markets
  • Engaging and inspiring teams
  • Adopting responsible business practices
  • Leading for high performance
  • Creating customer value
  • Financial management


''This is a thought-provoking and detailed course with relevant content in a fantastic mixture of online and in-person teaching, allowing you time to work as well as improve skills'.

Rosie, Head of Finance at Seacat Services Ltd, Isle of Wight

Hear from our participants: 

Geoff Wilkinson - Wilkinson Construction Consultants 

Geoff Wilkinson from Wilkinson Construction Consultants speaks to us about his Help to Grow experience and growth journey alongside the University of Portsmouth.

Hi, I’m Jeff Wilkinson and I'm the managing director of Wilkinson Construction Consultants. We're licensed, approved inspectors and offer an alternative to the local authority building control system. I think, like many small businesses, we got to the point where we'd grown and we hit a plateau - and that was going to be quite an issue for us as to how we would continue to grow. The Help to Grow program has really helped us to identify what our future looks like and how we're going to get past those barriers. 

The Help to Grow program itself has provided a number of benefits to us. Among those are the sheer value for money that we're getting out of it. We're getting world-class training, we're getting mentoring, we're getting support… All of that for a very small financial outlay for us as a small business. It's absolutely great value for money for us to be able to take part in the program itself. 

In addition to that, not only do we get a toolkit that we can use today in the training, we've also got all of those resources for the future as well. 

We've met some great people on the course and we've had direct mentoring, which is something we'd never envisaged we would be in a position to receive. All of those kinds of things as support for us for a small business are incredible things to actually have.

One of the biggest challenges that you have as a small business is the sense of loneliness - the fact that you've got no one else out there to support you - so to have the mentoring alongside the training course itself and to work alongside our peer group has been a fantastic experience. Just that ability to share and to let off steam, and to understand that there are other people out there that are going through the same things that you're going through. That realisation that you're not the only person facing these challenges and to listen back to some of the suggestions that they've had. I know for a fact that we're going to stay in touch with some of the people that we've met on the course over the course of years to come, and I'm sure there's a lot that we can continue to share as an experience from this day forward. 

Across all of the modules there's an enormous amount of content that's out there. I think the module that we found most useful to us was the marketing one. We identified that there were things that we needed to do to change and really build on our brand and brand awareness out there. Particularly coming from a construction background, everything is very samey out there so the things that we learned from the course were about how to differentiate our brand and how to really step up and create the proper brand awareness around that and what the value of our brand actually was. I think that that realisation is really going to kick into how we're going to market ourselves over the forthcoming months and years, and I think that this in particular is probably going to be the single largest change we're going to have made as a result of this course.

Obviously we're in the construction sector and I think one of the things that people forget about the construction sector is that it's made up of the best part of a million small businesses. So whilst you know the major projects, the shard and things like that, are constructed by a big contractor - in truth they're actually constructed by a whole series of small businesses such as ourselves. And I think that what we really need to do as we start to come back out of covid and lockdown and start to to get this country back up and running again, is ensure that it's those small businesses that we're supporting. So if we can get those businesses to come onto the course I think that's where we're gonna get some real benefit going forward. 

So if there are any small construction businesses out there that are thinking of coming on the course, I would highly recommend that they take part.

The course itself is an immense course. I mean we've had some really, really top quality training from the University of Portsmouth and I think that that in itself would have been fantastic value - but on top of that we've had all of the additional support there. What you need to realise is that you do need to make a commitment to this - there are in-person training elements to it, and there's the peer groups themselves that you need to be making sure that you attend, but i think that the key takeaway for anyone from this is that - like most things in life - the more that you're prepared to put into it, the more that you're going to be able to get out of it. It's not just what you get out of the course or the 12 modules - on top of that you've got something you can take away for life.

I know for a fact that I'm going to be going back to the things that we've learned on this course over the course of the next year, two years, three years, and really going back over those points to make sure that we're getting the maximum value out of it. 

So if you put in the effort you're going to get so much out of it and if there's any small business that's out there that's contemplating getting onto this course, I'd say get onto it now.

You don't get world-class training like this opportunity every day - take them while you can.

Rosie Boullin - SeaCat Services

Hear from Rosie Boullin Barrett at SeaCat Services on the Isle of Wight about his Help to Grow journey and plans for the future.

So today we're with the fantastic Rosie from SeaCat Services on the Isle of Wight.  I wanted to just catch up with you, Rosie, first of all to talk to you about your time on the Help to Grow program at the University of Portsmouth Business School, and also just to get a bit of feedback from you about how you felt your journey went throughout the 16 weeks you were on the program with us. Thank you so much first of all for being with us today. I really appreciate that. One of the first questions I wanted to ask you today was: what was your top reason for signing up, and why did you initially sign up for the help to grow programme in the first place?

Well, I found out about the Help to Grow Programme through a government survey from a nice man that was ringing me from London to find out how business was going in Covid, and right towards the end of the call he said that there was a government-funded program on management and to help small businesses. I immediately thought, wow, that sounds interesting. He gave me the name so I immediately googled it. The course content looked fantastic - it was something that I definitely thought would be important for SeaCat to do and take advantage of, mainly because it was funded and not a massive outlay but for a really good lot of training. So I  phoned and sent an email straight away and within a week I was enrolled on the course and quite apprehensive about going to Portsmouth University for the first time, but I thoroughly enjoyed the content of the course once I got going.

Brilliant. Can you tell us a little bit more about kind of the benefits that you found from the course, and how you worked with the content and what the content was and how that was laid out?

To start with I was quite nervous, but the first modules that you do and more of an introduction. You get to meet the people that are running the course, which is Becky here, and you get to meet your peer group and other people that are joining you on the course. Modules have been quite clearly defined and I'm somebody that likes to do a little bit of homework so I'd always read up a little bit on the modules before we actually took the class, either online or when we did the face-to-face ones at the University which was fantastic. So I've learnt masses on every single module. I come from a small business background and I think I'm quite good at running a company but there was masses to learn, and I've really enjoyed that journey and meeting the professionals was just fantastic.

That's good to hear! In terms of the the mentoring that you received on a one-to-one basis throughout the program, and also some of the peers and other people and businesses that you met, can you tell us a little bit more about that structure and how that worked, and the benefits you found?

The peer-to-peer was the best bit for me. So we do a module, and then towards the end of the week you then meet with your peer group. You quite quickly get to know a small group of people fast really, much faster than you would in real life because you're online. It was quite clear to me that the people I was meeting were really interesting. We were honest straight away and you were able to share ideas really really quickly, and the guys that I had on my peer group were a pleasure to be with and know. You couldn't really see anything that was daft because they were all coming at business from a different angle, so they were like 'oh well actually, you know we try this' or 'we try that' and it was all very positive and really really helpful. The mentoring I think hones you in on the areas of your help to grow plan that you need to develop, and the regular meetings keep you from going astray. So the the fact that you're still working and running your company is one thing, but the mentor sessions allow you to just completely focus in and hone in on what you're trying to improve on, and they also play devil's advocate to get you to think of things in a different way which is really, really useful.

In terms of the actual course content, what did you personally find was the most interesting module? Because obviously you're a finance director and incredibly good with numbers - was there anything specific that you were actually thinking 'I'm learning about this for the first time'? Something that was really super beneficial for you in terms of progressing your own leadership knowledge and leadership style?

Yes, definitely. Well to start with it was the mission vision and values, and then as the course went on I was enjoying more and more modules more, and I think the highlight for me has probably got to be Katya's module on the high performing workplace and investing in your employees. That's the bit that I've enjoyed the most and I feel like it was she really challenged you to make sure you were thinking the right way. That diversity that makes a better team is something that I find really interesting, and I want to develop more of that. Her style was good, she she nailed it on making sure you were coming away from the class with actual actions and not just taking in the course and going 'that was lovely' and then getting on with your day job. And she followed it up with an email to make sure you're actually doing the actions that you said you were going to do, which I think was fantastic so I really came away from that feeling absolutely energized and buzzing and positive about being a better leader going forward.

Also another quick question for you - in terms of not being academic, which you've always been quite vocal and very honest about with your facilitator on the program and I think that's really empowering to hear, I think a lot of people look at a program like this and think it's going to be far too academic for me, or perhaps it's a little bit too intimidating, or too much to take on, and that might prevent them from investigating this further. What would you say to people who perhaps didn't enjoy school so much and perhaps think that the course is a bit too remote or too high level?

Well, from my personal point of view, I love learning and it's been prohibitive most of my life because I do struggle with dyslexia and confidence, and doing a degree course was just overwhelming. The fact that I'd have to commit to something for three years has just been too big a commitment, so the bit I loved about this Help to Grow course was, one - I got to go to university, which was fab because I felt all young again, and you're not committing too much time to the course - so you're committing from August to November in my case. It's an achievable lump of time to be able to commit to learning. The learning was fast but also I had the notes so I could print them out and I could scribble on them, because I like to scribble - that's my way of learning. Although it does put some people off, I'm writing notes for my own knowledge, so the fact that the course was some online and some in-person sessions, the notes were there. There's lots of links to websites where you can get other information. The case studies were brilliant so I always pretty much read up about the company before the case study found out about them looked at the websites and they were good companies to look at they were really fun innovative new just really really inspiring.

That's brilliant - it's really good to hear. What we'd like to say is, obviously representing the University of Portsmouth, if there's anybody out there that is watching this that would like to come on the course - if there are people that do have barriers needing additional support for learning, we can provide that. It's very exciting to see lots of different people from different backgrounds on the course and I think that adds something to it. In terms of other feedback, is there any other feedback on the program that you would like to provide, or perhaps messages for people who are who are watching today about why you feel they should do the course and and why you'd recommend it?

Yes - I would recommend this course to small business owners and leaders, because actually it covers a multitude of areas of the normal business life that you take on when you start something. And when you start something and you have an idea, and it's just a little acorn at that point you can't think of it all - it's impossible. But what's been brilliant about the course is that they're highlighting all the areas you do need to think about, but encouraging you to perhaps say 'okay I can't be brilliant at everything - let me find somebody else that can help me here', or pointing you in a direction where you might be able to have some marketing help, or some sales help, or some IT help. And the people you meet on the peer-to-peer group - you can actually tap into them. So you know, I might be good at the bit that I do but somebody else is an expert in their field, and you can say, 'oh what do you think about so-and-so', and actually you're getting free advice which is amazing, but you can also then work with these people after you've done the course. The other thing is, the course is quick and you're learning a lot very fast - and what I would say is, for me, the benefit of the course is going to last much longer than the time I've been on it, and I can see me coming back to my notes, going back to the course content and using that again and again over the next few years.

That's brilliant feedback. And also I think one of the big things is that there is an alumni network coming up out of the back end of this program, and so obviously we'll be involving you with that as well, which would be absolutely epic. I'd like to say thanks very much for your time today, and thanks for being such a great advocate of our program at the University of Portsmouth Business School. It's been an absolute pleasure and a delight to actually watch your progress from the very start where everybody was totally apprehensive and a little bit terrified, through to how empowered and positive you've become in terms of your confidence as well, Rosie. So thank you so much for being such an amazing advocate of our program at the University of Portsmouth - it means a great deal to us.

It’s been great fun, I really enjoyed it. 

Thanks, Rosie. Bye! Cheers. 

‘’The mentors having real-life experience is something money just can't buy, these people have all built successful companies and know what troubles all SMEs face. The last 18 months have tested many companies but were still going strong.’’

Lisa Samuels, Help to Grow participant

Next steps

We run free weekly taster sessions on Thursdays throughout the year. These sessions are your chance to tell us more about your business and your pain points, and to explore what we can offer you. Check back here to see upcoming dates.

Upcoming dates

Contact us 

If you have a question about the programme, please send an email to