Downtown event reveals key to Lancashire's success

Lancashire businesses need to stop being so humble and shout about success were the key messages from the Lancashire Business Growth Conference hosted by leading lobby group and networking club, Downtown Lancashire in Business, today (Friday 10 October 2014).

Frank McKenna 3More than 100 people gathered at Brockholes Nature Reserve Conference Centre to hear from speakers including technology commentator and ‘futurist’, Tom Cheesewright, Marketing Lancashire’s Ruth Connor, Clive Drinkwater from UKTI and Michael Finnigan, founder of Impossible 2 Inevitable (i2i Ltd).

Following an introduction from Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, the event featured keynote speeches and panel discussions around access to finance and exporting, providing delegates with key insights into how to grow their business.

“We know that the last 12 months have been overall positive for Lancashire’s business community, but we’re not very good at shouting about our success,” said Frank McKenna, chief executive of Downtown Lancashire in Business.

“Lancashire does well to punch above its weight and has a lot to offer, but we seem to be intimidated by surrounding cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.

“Today was a good opportunity to explore what support is out there for businesses and also look at examples of firms that are doing well and what we can learn from them.”

Much discussion was had around the support packages available in the county, such as Boost Business Lancashire, which celebrates its one year anniversary this month.

Andy Walker from Lancashire County Council encouraged delegates to take advantage of such schemes before it’s too late before Clive Drinkwater from UKTI highlighted examples of successful exports.

Clive said: “Whilst the county is excellent at exporting manufacturing, businesses need to remember that other products and services are exportable. We also need to shift away from our reliance on the European Union and target high growth markets in the world, such as Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey.”

Addressing the audience on plans for Marketing Lancashire, Ruth Connor suggested that the county has too many fractions of groups ‘doing their own thing’ and that we need to come together to form a cohesive ‘Lancashire Voice’.

“Lancashire has so much to shout about and we need to take more pride in the county and be more outward facing,” said Ruth.

“We’ve got all the ingredients for success, but growth can only be achieved if we’re confident, ambitious and network.”

The dynamic duo of Michael Finnigan and John Leach from Winning Pitch closed proceedings, providing advice on how ‘sell more stuff'. An animated Michael Finnigan said: “The key to success is simply think big and make it happen. Be authentic, genuine and caring and remember that success is nothing to be ashamed of.”