Written by Ali Clements, Economy & Sport Growth Manager Active Together (formerly Leicester‑Shire & Rutland Sport) and Active Partnership National Team (1 day a week)
Our sector is made up of some outstanding sport and physical activity businesses, clubs and organisations.
These organisations are operating within a changing and challenging landscape, managing people, processes, policies as well as budgets, facilities, spaces.
Their leaders take on the responsibility of managing the complexities behind the delivery of sport and physical activity. They may be experienced leaders, administrators, project managers, business owners, board members, trustees. They may be running a charity, community interest company, limited company or be a sole trader. Whatever the nature of the organisation they are running, they have tasks to perform, challenging times to navigate, strategies to devise plus much more.
There is a wealth of support available to all these organisations. These include Club Matters and Sport Structures and others within the sector, but are the sports organisations in your area making the most of the business support available through your Local Enterprise Partnership, your local Chamber of Commerce, and your local authority Economic Development teams?
Just as an example, each Local Enterprise Partnership has a Growth Hub providing support for businesses. Our sector could learn a lot from being an active part of the local business community and here in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland we have been utilising these links over the past 4 years.
Ali Clements, Economy and Sport Growth Manager for Active Together, (formerly LRS) says “our growth hub is the first place to direct people to for business support. Whether someone is a pre-start up, self-employed trying to plan their next steps or an existing business with numerous years under their belt; our Business Gateway Growth Hub team have something to offer them. The extensive range of business support events and workshops, the business mentoring and advice, the local business intelligence and the extensive network of organisations they can signpost organisations to, is all hugely valuable to everyone involved.”
Within the Growth Hub network, business support is available for start-up businesses as well as existing businesses. What’s more, the ongoing support network adapts to the current business needs. During the pandemic the sport and physical activity sector in our area was supported with a standalone session relating to re-opening and the latest guidance. Now, the themes are business resilience, managing cash, wellbeing, leadership, carbon reduction and much more.
Sonia Baigent, Chair of the LLEP Business Gateway Board, said: “The Business Gateway is a one-stop shop for Leicester and Leicestershire businesses, providing free business support including access to grants and funding, one-to-one business advice, events and signposting to other providers. Last year we supported more than 1,500 local businesses including those from the sport and physical activity sector.
“The Business Gateway aims to support businesses to not only grow but make that growth an enduring success. Our highly experienced team of advisers can coach, guide, mentor and be a great sounding board for business owners, who may be feeling isolated. I’d urge anyone running a business - sports clubs, social enterprises, limited companies – no matter your status to get in touch with your local growth hub to see what help is available.”
Andy Reed, Interim Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership added “It’s been great to see the collaboration between Active Together and the Business Gateway Growth Hub over recent years and see and hear how businesses in the sport and physical activity sector are making the most of the support available. I would urge all partners across the sector to make the most of the business support available in your area.”
John Byrne, Director at Active Together added “we can only grow physical activity levels and reduce physical inactivity if we mobilise 1000’s of high quality, well trained SME’s that can provide a very personal and quality offer on a local place based approach. To achieve the scale of change needed we need to be acting at scale.”
If we want or need our sport and physical activity providers to safely navigate these challenging times, check out what support is available through your local Growth Hub - LEP Growth Hubs | The LEP Network