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Berkshire Growth Hub helps local SMEs like Improv4Business take centre stage

Many small to medium sized businesses across Berkshire are experiencing growing success after completing a free business support programme through the Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub. One such company to benefit from the programme is Improv4Business in Reading.

Improv4Business, which is a company that helps employees develop key employability skills such as presentation, communication and teamwork through improvisation masterclasses, is celebrating a successful first 18 months in business.

Having won repeat business from prestigious clients including ITV, Whitbread, a national newspaper and other multimillion pound businesses, the company attributes its success, in part, to the early support it received from the Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub. 

Improv4Business is the brainchild of Alexander McWilliam, a 29-year-old actor and teacher from Reading. Alex, who has been teaching acting for over 10 years, decided to set up his own business early last year with the idea of using improvisation to address the need for core employability skills.

Alex explains: “I had an idea of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to take the business, but the Berkshire Business Growth Hub helped me develop my plans and implement them. The great thing was that all the advice and support was tailored to me and my business. I received practical advice I could action, which has really made a difference to my business.”

As part of the Growth Hub’s programme of support, Alex attended clinics on intellectual property and digital marketing run by industry experts. From these he learnt how to promote his business, develop his website, understand search engine optimisation and how to protect his business idea. He also had one-to-one sessions with a business adviser, who helped him with setting up and developing his business, from ensuring he had the right kind of insurance to helping him develop his business plan.

“I don’t think my business would be where it is now if it wasn’t for the support I received from the Berkshire Growth Hub,” explains Alex. “The programme has given me a solid foundation and my business is going from strength to strength with referrals and repeat business growing.

“I am now looking to expand my masterclasses into stress management in the workplace and open courses for individuals from small and medium businesses in addition to inhouse programmes for large corporates. The next step is probably to employ someone to handle marketing and administration to enable me to focus on delivering the masterclasses and building client relationships.”

Providing employers with a smarter way to develop their staff, Improv4Business offers tailor-made programmes to develop a range of core business skills. These include presentation skills, adaptability, creativity, confidence, teamwork, communication skills and stress management. The masterclasses are 100% practical sessions (no PowerPoint presentations in sight), where participants come away with real skills they can put into practice immediately and continue to develop.

Alex concludes: “Starting your own business can seem overwhelming at first, but it is satisfying to have created and developed something from scratch. When I look back over the last year, I realise how much I’ve achieved and just how far the business has come.”

Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub offers fully funded, impartial support services and expert one-to-one advice to start-ups and established businesses in Berkshire. The service includes free clinics and masterclasses on a range of business issues, alongside a special High Growth programme to provide tailored support to SMEs with high growth potential.

Delivered by Oxford Innovation Services, the service is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

For further details on the Berkshire Business Growth Hub’s range of fully funded support services, including its High Growth Programme, visit click here or email info@berkshirebusinesshub.co.uk.

For more information on Improv4Business, visit www.improv4business.co.uk.

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