Friday, 9 March 2012

What Can Small Business Learn From Larger Progressive Businesses?

If you run a small business and are interesting in developing your business please read on.

Five years ago the private health care charity Nuffield expanded its business to providing customer-focused preventative health care, buying Canons gyms and transforming these into client- focused holistic health and well-being venues.

Nuffield decided that the challenge was to move away from the minimum customer contact which many gyms operate on to a paradigm of maximum contact.

As part of this, the organisation introduced a member 'MOT' which included measuring people up against a number of health measures as well as asking them questions about sleep and alcohol intake as a baseline from which to build upon their fitness.

The MOT is repeated every 3 months so customers can see any improvements which ties in with their idea that maintaining a customer's health and fitness is about being proactive and preventative in terms of ill-health.

The Nuffield approach also recognised that health and well-being is an ongoing journey in life rather than having a start and end point.

As a result, Nuffield train their staff to be good 'generalists' who know all of their services while at the same time developing a specialism, such as diabetes and fitness or understanding back pain.

Leadership in Nuffield is also about delegated authority so that senior managers do not have too much of their time taken up by making small- and medium-sized decisions.

All Nuffield staff are involved in one of the organisations's strategic projects which creates a shared approach to driving the business forwards.

Nuffield uses an Appreciative Inquiry(AI) approach to facilitating change by focusing on what works rather than on what does not work - solution rather than problem focused.

Taking the changes Nuffield has made as an example, my advice in terms of learning from them about how to develop your business would be to:

  • Explore ways that you can get closer to your customer thinking
  • If you are not doing so already - ask your customers what you can do to improve the services you provide to them
  • Think about staff training and developing individuals understanding of all of the services you provide so they can tell your customers about them
  • Think about developing staff expertise so each has a specialism since customers want specialists and staff like developing their expertise
  • Think about delegating your various tiers of decision-making to the appropriate levels
  • Think about involving each staff member in strategic projects - people close to the shop floor know how to make things work
  • Consider using an AI approach by seeking out what is good and amplifying it

If you have found this blog to be useful please leave a comment or if you would like us to help you develop your business through business coaching please get in touch via our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.


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