Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2020

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The UK’s scaleup leaders are increasingly looking for guidance from others who have already successfully run a company to help them grow their own.

Help to build leadership skills is still a top ask but the proportion saying that access to a network of peers, more mentoring or contacts with non-executive directors who have already successfully developed a business has grown significantly over the past year. In our 2019 survey we again find that scaleup leaders rank peer-to-peer networks as the most important form of external support. Ambitious entrepreneurs are constantly looking for outside perspectives they can bring into their businesses – and not just for the founders or CEOs but for the wider leadership team such as Chief Operating Officers and Chief Financial Officers.

The ScaleUp Institute has previously identified a range of successful programmes that bring entrepreneurs together in cohesive and collaborative networks to seek solutions to common problems and share good practice. Given the challenges scaleup continue to identify it is important that well-established, programmes endorsed by the ScaleUp Institute continue to thrive and those that have emerged in recent years show tangible impact.

This year we highlight Upscale as a new “One to Watch”. Upscale has been operating for four years offering the UK’s fastest-growing tech companies a structured six-month programme that focuses on culture and values, hiring and retaining talent, international expansion and funding. Business leaders are connected to scale coaches who are all experienced entrepreneurs and take part in intensive off-site sessions. This approach allows participants to create meaningful, long-term connections.

Long-standing endorsed programmes continue to demonstrate the impact of structured education for business leaders and their senior teams. More than 1,600 businesses have graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme after 100 hours of education, both online and residential, as well as networking with peers. A 2019 evaluation of the programme revealed that 92% of graduates expect to experience turnover growth in the next year and 94% feel more prepared to deal with uncertainty and change.

Participants on the London Stock Exchange’s ELITE programme not only benefit from training on essential elements of growth and access to mentors they can use the Growth Compass tool to review their own processes, challenges and future plans.

In 2018 we endorsed Vistage which supports 1,700 business leaders in the UK in a curated and formal peer-to-peer network, the majority of whose members are scaleups or companies planning to scale. Vistage has built its approach on encouraging business leaders to step away from their day-to-day duties one day a month to think about and focus on their business and connect with other leaders in similar roles. The Supper Club, first endorsed in 2017, continues to offer peer-to-peer networking and has now launched a Foundation Series Programme providing workshops, deep dives and roundtables designed to accelerate scaleup growth using tried and tested approaches.

The British Library’s Innovating for Growth programme has now built an alumni network of more than 500 scaling businesses who take part in regular reviews to track their progress and share their experience and knowledge with the next generation of entrepreneurs. Innovating for Growth has now secured funding until June 2022 so a further 200 scaling companies will benefit from this successful three-month programme.

In the 2018 Review we specifically stressed the importance that innovative business leaders put on connections with academic institutions. Productivity through People (PtP) is now developing its collaborative approach with four UK universities: Lancaster, Bath, Strathclyde and Aston. Interim feedback has highlighted the effectiveness of working with universities and industry partners to deliver a unique programme. Delegates on the programme have identified a range of benefits, particularly the opportunities it brings to access the latest management techniques and thinking from both academics and industry partners.

We continue to highlight two international programmes: the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, endorsed in 2018, which now has 175 mentors supporting students, alumni and staff who have ideas they want to turn into businesses and the Lazaridis Scale-Up Program. In 2018 the ScaleUp Institute identified the Lazaridis Program as One to Watch and we are particularly impressed by its decision to create a cohort made up entirely of female founders and to increase the number of female mentors and speakers as well as add content on the difficulty women face in fundraising.

Other programmes highlighted in previous reviews – Strathclyde Business School’s Growth Advantage Programme, Cambridge Network’s School for Scaleups and Inspire Elite – are continuing to provide opportunities to scaleup leaders to develop their leadership skills by engaging with peers and mentors. We will watch with interest the Scaleup Leaders’ Academy’s decision to introduce to its programme a new series of workshops that specifically allow founders to include their wider leadership team. Companies are likely to scale further and faster if the entire management team is bought in to a shared mind and enthused about overcoming challenges to growth.

There is a wide and growing range of programmes available to scaleup businesses – as these exemplars demonstrate. But more needs to be done. Scaleup leaders need more locally-provided opportunities and they need to be provided on a more rigorous basis with information about what is available for them. We strongly urge areas to build on what works. There is a growing imperative that the learnings and insights from the successful programmes that the ScaleUp Institute has identified are taken up or that collaborations are created to extend their reach. Co-investment in these schemes is more important than creating new ones that may be subscale.

Page URL: https://www.scaleupinstitute.org.uk/articles/leadership-2/

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