Person grinding metal

Better Business Skills helps growing SME refocus on growth

Black Hills Products, Northumberland-based engineering business has invested in its training to help continue its commitment to growth, calling on NBSL’s fully funded programme, Better Business Skills, for support.

Run by husband and wife team, Dave and Lynsey Crossman, Black Hills Products provides engineering solutions to the utilities and energy sectors, and employs a small team of people at its Northumberland headquarters.

Lynsey said that the sessions helped the business refocus its priorities on expanding its team and customer base.  “Investing in training has always been important to us as a company. When we started Black Hills Products we had no formal business training, but we have since achieved Quality, Environmental and Health & Safety ISO certifications, which is quite unique for a company of our size.”

“We chose to take part in the Better Business Skills programme because we had plans to increase our workforce and we wanted to develop the skills to manage our expanding team effectively and retain that family business ethos that’s so important to us. We also wanted to learn more about finding new customers and how to streamline our processes to eliminate those time robbers that prevent further growth”

Lynsey Crossman, Director – Black Hills Products

Now into its fourth year and welcoming over 240 people to the programme, Better Business Skills, developed and delivered by NBSL, has provided tailored plans that help improve business skills for individuals and businesses across the North of Tyne region, thanks to funding from North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Lynsey added  “We had no preconceived ideas when we started the programme, we felt even if we learnt nothing new it would still be beneficial and give us the reassurance we were on the right track.”

Lynsey and Dave attended workshops on topics including sales, time-saving techniques and lean management. They found that the course helped them to improve how they work together, helped them to put targets in place, and it also allowed them to learn from other entrepreneurs and business owners.

“We really enjoyed the course. The tutors were very knowledgeable and great at extracting information from us that we didn’t know we had. The pace of the courses was good and the content was tailored so it was relevant to everyone; it wasn’t one size fits all,” said Lynsey.

“I’m a very organised person anyway, but formalising it and putting realistic targets in place means I can organise myself better now.

“A key takeaway of the programme for me was the sharing of best practice, not just us sharing with others, but what people have shared with us.”

David Jackson, Skills Manager at NBSL, added: “One of the great things about Better Business Skills is that it’s a flexible programme. People can pick and choose the modules which interest them and which fit their needs, so whether someone wants to learn about getting value for money from social media, or they want to focus on making their business more efficient, like Lynsey and Dave did, we can help them select the best workshops for them.”

Following the group coaching session – new for this year – the team have been able to look at ways of implementing ideas generated from the sessions.

 “We’ve already put the skills and procedures we learnt from Better Business Skills into practice. From small things, like improving procedures to save time on the factory floor, to holding staff meetings where everyone has the chance to feed back on how we can improve the business, and how we can implement it as one big team.

“Overall, I’d say Better Business Skills has helped us refocus our priorities and allowed us to go above and beyond. We gained helpful nuggets of information from every course. We always strive to do more, and taking part in the programme has helped us think about the business as a whole and work more collaboratively,” said Lynsey. Better Business Skills, a flexible programme of workshops spanning topics from management to marketing, is open for registrations for its autumn sessions.

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