Bridging the Gap

Daniel Theuns
Monday 2 November 2015
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Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap is a programme that originates from The Bridge Model. It is about creating jobs; a practical and proven framework to support new business people, new entrepreneurs, social innovators, and public sector organisations spinning out into the private sector. The Bridge Model has been successfully piloted in five European Union countries over the past 2 years, which has guided and coached over 25 entrepreneurs and businesses. The pilots and project have been supported by the European Union’s Leonardo Transfer of Innovation programme.

 

This model is one of the practical methods created by Birmingham based social innovators, Bridging to the Future, and it delivers directly to economic independence through entrepreneurship, education, and enablement. Bridging the Gap targets all three of these aspects by fostering new business creation, individual coaching, and flexible planning; so far we have seen the creation of an educational app designer in the Netherlands, a fashion boutique in Spain, and a microbrewer in Greece, to name a few.

 

The Bridge Model offers a framework to start and develop a business, and consists of four stages, each termed a ‘bridge’. Each step over the bridge offers support to a business person or entrepreneur and is supported by insightful advice from active Coaches, who are all contemporary business professionals.

 

Bridge 1

Bridge 1 takes aspiring business people from having an idea to having a business. It covers the initial questions that need to be asked such as: why is your idea a good business idea, what are the legal aspects of forming a business, what is your business plan, what do I need to run my business?

This step is crucial to the idea of developing economic independence. 31% of women in the UK believe that they have the skills, knowledge, and experience to start a business. This first bridge therefore enables this large pool of human talent. A trained Coach helps entrepreneurs to personally and professionally develop and also discuss and assess the validity of their business idea. They can do this using an ‘Idea Audit’, aimed to empower these budding entrepreneurs, never shutting down an idea as being silly, incomplete, or unoriginal.

 

Bridge 2

Now that the entrepreneur has a business, bridge 2 involves the crucial steps to then obtaining a successfully operating business. Coaches use anecdotes of their personal experiences to support the entrepreneur through this important period. We ask questions such as: how do you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a business person, what do you need to think about in relation to cash flow, management accounts and bookkeeping?

In other words, how can we ensure your business is strategically secure and economically independent?

 

Bridge 3

Bridge 3 is central to those entrepreneurs who are now running a viable and successful business but would like to grow it. This step often takes the longest as it requires a ‘big picture’ view and very careful deliberation as to where the entrepreneur wishes to take their business. How to develop business strategy, perform Operations Audits, finding the optimum between marketing and advertising, and putting in middle leadership structures all are found on this third bridge.

Hopefully, this business in now operating on profit and can start looking at contributing directly to its local community and economy (see our SEEB series here).

 

Bridge 4

The role of the Coach changes slightly over the course of Bridge 4: they become a critical eye to scrutinise the entrepreneur’s plans and support them to move forward. At this stage, the entrepreneur has had their talents nurtured and developed and so the coaching relationship trends to becoming a friendship. Importantly, they appreciate the fact that the entrepreneur has a successful business and so don’t ask the basic questions. Among 12 steps are: relationships and networking, utilising personnel and human capital, and leading a strengthening business.

We believe that economically independent businesses are a crucial part of creating capacity to make life, society, and business work better and to strengthen and sustain local, regional, and global well-being. So, developing these businesses remains at the forefront of what we do.

 

The Bridge Model for Job Creation is the result of a two year strategic partnership between six organisations from five countries. The impact, learning, and future benefit of Bridging the Gap is a product of the hard work and dedication of our partners. Please get in touch if you wish to link up and work with and of these organisations.

 

The Bridging to the Gap Consortium:

Bridging to the Future (United Kingdom)
Business Development Friesland (The Netherlands)
Academy of Entrepreneurship (Greece)
Business Incubator Gotse Delchev (Bulgaria)
Merseyside Expanding Horisons (United Kingdom)
Everis (Spain)

 

The project Bridging the Gap had been funded with support from the European Commission. This article reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

They arrived from far flung parts of the European Union…. Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, the Netherlands and……Liverpool! Mild weather, a warm Birmingham welcome and a busy schedule gree ...
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