Just taking time out of the day to day ‘busy-ness’ of running a business, to actually think about the business, is never a bad idea. Finding that time isn’t easy though, especially in a deadline driven industry as there always seems to be some big project nearing completion or pressing issue that needs attention. That said, the invitation to join the current cohort of similar businesses at ‘Greater Connected’, a Business Growth Hub program specifically for the digital, creative and technology sector, seemed an ideal opportunity to take that time. And working within a structured program, which takes advantage of the knowledge of the facilitators and the experiences of other creative businesses, adds value to the exercise.

The program, which is spread over a couple of months, includes two full-day class room style sessions, split by a half day strategy planning session. The full days are attended by the full cohort of around twenty fellow leaders and the strategy sessions are broken down to half a dozen businesses at a time all covering bespoke content for digital, creative and tech business.

Whilst the first day’s session didn’t come up with any amazing revelations, it did provide some sound thinking and good advice expressed in a series of clear and succinct presentations. Interspersed with occasional exercises, the day was stimulating overall and served as a good reminder of the many things all good digital businesses should be doing or at least thinking about.

The split on the second day was more or less 50-50 between businesses and coaches with half a dozen of each. Again it followed a structured format all well presented, but with more interaction and sharing. The group comprised a good spread in terms of size and experience from a 40 year old, 168 employee creative agency with photography, design and digital studios in Manchester, London and Mumbai; an 8 year old digital agency with around a dozen people; a new marketing agency also with a dozen people; a 4 or 5 year old CGI/effects business; and ourselves with 20 people and nearly 20 years of trading.

It’s always fascinating to see all the group members gradually open up during the session as everyone gets more comfortable with each other. And even though the group was quite diverse, in terms of experience, size and specialisms, it was fascinating too to hear how many common issues there are. Part of the aims of the program is to connect businesses with others to “…help you mutually prosper, not compete” which is a principle that does seem to be becoming more widely adopted as collaboration across agencies is something that’s been widely talked about, but now seems to be more widespread. Inevitably agencies tend to be a bit paranoid about their client relationships and often reluctant to introduce others, but there is also recognition that, in the world of digital specifically, so many skills are needed it’s highly improbable that one business can deliver them all, certainly not excel at them all.

We’re increasingly collaborating with other teams, both in house and agencies, to deliver a specific element of a project. Last year, for example, we provided the UI/UX designs and prototype for a new software solution for a French business which will be built by them, and are currently building an online platform for a global office furniture business working closely with their in house design team. In fact, we have already worked with one of the other group members in the past. There’s one more ‘Greater Connected’ session, which is early next month, so it will be good to meet up with everyone again as there’s some really great people and to see how they’re progressing. It will also be interesting to see how many of these fledgling relationships evolve into working together.