Ask the expert: How do businesses adapt and grow in a post-covid environment?

Alexa Greaves, small business champion for the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, talks about supporting SMEs across South Yorkshire, helping them to navigate what has been an uncertain landscape and accelerating their post-COVID growth. 

As Small Business Champion for the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, I’m focused on supporting SMEs across South Yorkshire, helping them to navigate what has been an uncertain landscape and accelerating their growth. In South Yorkshire we of course have some fantastic big names, but we also have an incredible community of small businesses who are working hard to adapt and evolve in what has been an unquestionably challenging period.

We’ve invested heavily in the support available to businesses through the Renewal Action Plan, working with the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub and public and private sectors across the region to deliver support through one front door. The Growth Hub acts as a ‘gateway’ so businesses can access support when it is needed the most and within the shortest timeframe, providing expertise and guidance to deliver bespoke solutions, be it financial, digital or upskilling, facilitating recovery and stimulating growth.

What are the challenges businesses face in the future?

Business leaders wear a number of different hats, particularly in SMEs, and as a business founder myself I understand the pressure to spin plates and navigate different company functions. A key message for businesses in the Sheffield City Region is that you do not have to be an expert in every area, it’s not possible and it’s not sustainable. Leaders and owners need to focus on their skills and bring in support for the rest, and we are ready and waiting to provide that specialist support.

Marketing, for example, is essential to growth in the online world we’re operating in, but it’s not often a skill a business owner has. That is natural, nobody can do everything, and I’ve found that in my own company, but it’s imperative to reach out for support in those areas to draw on the expertise of others.

How do businesses need to diversify?

As we look to strengthen South Yorkshire’s business offering, the key areas I believe businesses need to focus on are digital, marketing and leadership training.

The digital sector is the future and businesses must adapt. We’ve seen a huge increase in the support needed in this area over the past year due to the growth of remote working and the need for businesses to strengthen their offering in an online marketplace. We won’t go back to working in the way we did before, so technology and marketing is not a cost, it’s an investment for the future.

It’s fantastic to see so many businesses diversify, looking at what their clients and audience are doing, thinking of new ways to work or markets to enter, and using that information to evolve. This has been a learning experience for us all and we should embrace new ways of working and new technologies moving forward.

What support is available to businesses?

When experiencing a period of adversity, it can feel natural to become introverted but that is when it is most important to look outwards. Through the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, we’re working with organisations across the region to listen to our businesses, look at their challenges through a fresh pair of eyes, and develop a specialist framework of support for them.

We’ve recently supported more than 20,000 businesses across South Yorkshire with over £30m of grants through the Additional Restrictions Grant secured to help companies through the challenges of Covid. We’ve also bolstered our team of Growth Hub Advisors to diversify the expertise we are offering in business development, innovation, growth, logistics, trade and exporting, and access to finance or training, and developed a supply chain focus of our Renewal Action Plan to help companies access opportunities within the supply chain. We are committed to our region’s recovery, renewal and growth in the coming years, and our business community is integral to that.

Visit for more information on the support available.