The announcement of Nottingham’s City Deal last week (http://www.dpm.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files_dpm/resources/Nottingham-City-Deal-final.pdf) is big deal for entrepreneurship in the city. The council now have the funds and powers to provide the infrastructure and support to the new, innovative businesses that will drive GDP growth in the city and provide the skilled jobs going forward.
But, infrastructure is only one part of the jigsaw. I want to share a couple of thoughts on how we, the business community in Nottingham, can do our bit to support our city in this endeavour.
The incubator without walls concept is predicated on building a sense community among the businesses in the city centre. One where we all come together to share, help and learn from each other for the mutual benefit of us all.
We already have a vibrant community with events like Nott Tuesday, Second Wednesday, GeekUp and Game City Nights bringing people together on a regular basis. All of these events could be bigger and better though. You can support them by attending, encouraging your team to attend, mining your contact book for speakers or your or your team speaking and giving the rest of the community the benefit of your experiences.</
This isn’t just altruism. This will help you be more successful.
When you’re at the coal-face of a small business growing hard or running to stand still as is the case for many, it’s easy to shut out distractions. I know exactly what it is like. However, taking time out to share and reflect is invariably valuable. Not only does it ive you some mental space to reset your thought processes you may find someone with similar challenges who, if they haven’t already solved them and can share their solution, can provide a valuable ally.
If we’re to build a sustainable future for the city, we need to develop the skills of our young people. This doesn’t have to be the prevail of large organisations with training schemes and huge CSR budgets. If we really want to empower young people to take control of the learning and inspire them to greatness, they need the opportunity to experience working with small organisations as well.
The challenge for small companies is that when this young, untrained, person represents 20% of your workforce that is a huge risk. The way to assuage that risk is to do what you can, and consider that it’s probably more than you’re doing at the moment.
Code Club (http://codeclub.org.uk) is a great initiative to start introducing children to software development at after school clubs. If you have developers encourage and support them to run a Code Club at their local school, whether they have children or not.
Contact local colleges and explain you can host one or two students on Tuesdays (for example) or encourage your marketing exec to run workshops to show how what they’re learning now is actually applied in the real world.
My experience of recruiting over the years is seeing a widening disconnect between what is being taught to pass exams and what we as businesses actually do on a daily basis. Colleges like New College Nottingham (http://www.ncn.ac.uk/content/home.aspx) have recognised this and are actively looking to engage with the business community to help them solve this.
Again this isn’t blind altruism. The personal development benefits to mentors are well documented. The business gets to hone a new employee at a fraction of the cost. The city benefits are just a by product.
There will be all sorts of other ways we can all come together to support the vision of Nottingham as a rewarding and enjoyable place to live and work. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that greed and selfishness is road to destruction.
Let’s learn from that and work together to build something sustainable.