Growing your business

Is your Sandwell business ready to grow? Expanding your work capacity, taking on bigger contracts, hiring more staff, launching products or services, accessing new markets or moving into larger premises are all exciting moves … but also difficult to achieve. Think Sandwell is sympathetic to the challenges faced by growing businesses and we’re always ready to give you the right support. We can:

  • Flag up relevant finance opportunities, including loans and grants
  • Highlight suitable property in Sandwell, the UK’s supply chain capital
  • Provide recruitment support to ensure you have the right people in the right place
  • Direct you to tendering opportunities in your sector.

If your business is classed as a ‘small business’ (the definition is loose but we tend to see it as employing 50 people or fewer), see also our growth for small businesses page for more ideas.

Procurement opportunities

Looking for new clients and contracts? Our procurement opportunities page lists several fruitful places to search for tendering opportunities in every sector. As a business-friendly council we’re particularly keen to point out to you Sandwell Council’s current opportunities, which are advertised through a portal called In-Tend.

Support from partner organisations   

Think Sandwell works with many public and private sector partners to ensure Sandwell businesses have access to all the support they need to grow. We’ll keep you posted on their latest updates and ventures – and please check out the websites below for details of their valuable (and usually free) services on offer:

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Black Country Growth Hub is a single point of contact for advice and funding support to help businesses grow. Watch their informative video and find out more about how they can help you.
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Black Country Chamber of Commerce represents around 1,500 businesses who employ over 56,000 employees across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

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Sandwell Business Solutions Centre provides start-up businesses and established companies with a single point of access to free events and workshops, business facilities and professional advisory services.

BC Logo Black Country Skills Factory

Black Country Skills Factory is an employer-led education and training collaboration coordinated by Black Country Consortium Ltd with initial funding via UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

Invest Black Country works to maximise inward investment opportunities and develop international trade in our region. The team markets the Black Country’s competitive strengths and supports organisations wishing to invest in the area by providing access to a bespoke range of services.
Department for International Trade
The Department for International Trade (formerly UK Trade & Investment) provides support and advice, including free training sessions in the West Midlands. This government department aims to stimulate the economy by increasing the number of exporters from, and investors in, the UK. The DIT website contains links to details of export opportunities, finance, useful events and country guides to help you take your product or service to new international audiences. See the West Midlands-specific section for details of training sessions and other support in our area.
The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry aims to bridge the gap between business and academia, providing an environment for SMEs to develop and demonstrate new technologies on an industrial scale. Fifty per cent match-funded support may be available for eligible projects. Learn more about MTC here.
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Drive Midlands coordinates local support services for the automotive sector. It collaborates with higher and further education institutions to nurture skills in our region. The overriding aim of Drive Midlands is to support the development of SMEs to safeguard the future of the automotive industry. Find  out more at www.drivemidlands.co.uk.

Networking and learning

Forging strong links with other businesses means you can collaborate, share intelligence, exchange ideas with and learn from likeminded people – all important in the business growth process. And of course it’s vital to keep your skills and knowledge fresh, no matter how long you’ve been in business. That’s why the Think Sandwell team holds regular networking events, attends trade exhibitions and organises seminars and workshops. We want you to be able to:

  • Build strategic partnerships
  • Promote your business
  • Acquire new skills to help your business diversify and thrive
  • Access expertise.

You’ll find details of our latest events here, as well as useful networking sessions, seminars, workshops, conferences and trade shows organised by our partners.

Digital Black Country
Digital Black Country
According to Digital Black Country, a large percentage of businesses in our region do not have the necessary skills required in the digital age. This organisation offers free training to boost your effectiveness in promoting your business online.

Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills
ECMS logoECMS is a training facility designed to address skills gaps in our region by delivering specialist apprenticeships and short courses in disciplines that include toolmaking, foundry, patternmaking, metalforming/forging, advanced computer numerical control, manufacturing management, leadership and project management. ECMS’s hub will be based at the University of Wolverhampton’s new Springfield Campus and we’ll bring you news on its completion as soon as we have it. In the meantime, check out the list of forthcoming training to help you upskill your workforce: http://theecms.co.uk/training-courses.

Local marketing opportunities

Black Cbullet-21ountry Bullet

A virtual high-performance car with around 70 per cent of its components made in the Black Country, the Black Country Bullet has been designed to showcase our region’s world-class engineering supply chain. If you operate in the automotive sector and haven’t yet applied to become a listed supplier you can do so here.

#madeinsandwell

#madeinsandwell is Think Sandwell’s campaign to celebrate everything great that has been manufactured, engineered, produced, grown, devised, dreamed up and delivered in the borough of Sandwell. Most Mondays (#madeinsandwell Mondays, we call them!), we aim to publish a profile of a different Sandwell-based business, sharing its story and celebrating its successes. Learn how to get involved.

Growth through savings and efficiency

EnTRESS

EnTRESS stands for Environmental Technologies and Resources Efficiency Support Services. Part of the University of Wolverhampton’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, it links academic research into business, driving innovation in areas such as waste management, pollution control and sustainable operations.

EnTRESS supports Black Country SMEs with adopting environmental technologies and resource efficiency processes, with the aim of boosting your business competitiveness, improving your productivity and helping you identify resulting new market opportunities.  Learn more at the University of Wolverhampton website.

For further ideas for going greener, see our energy saving for businesses page

Other support

GetSet for Growth

A specialist service helping businesses overcome the two biggest barriers to growth – accessing finance and finding customers. GetSet for Growth has a dedicated platform for SMEs in the West Midlands.

Mentorsme

A free site giving you access to a list of business mentoring organisations across Britain, Mentorsme has an easy-to-use search engine which allows you to refine your search according to the life stage of your business and your location.

Page last reviewed in October 2018.