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Ian Wood

Based in North Tyneside, Ian Wood has 30 years’ experience of working in training and education – as well as 20 years as a volunteer with the RNLI in Tynemouth and Cullercoats. Now, Ian is part of the North East Growth Hub’s team of Connectors, and specialises in supporting businesses that want to digitise and grow.


My background is in helping organisations to grow. I spent 30 years working in the education sector, including as a non-executive director, as a self-employed consultant and as a managing director, and I’ve helped organisations increase their turnover from zero to £5million plus.

Now, as well as being a Growth Hub Connector, I also help run the North East Growth Hub’s Made Smarter programme, helping manufacturers increase profits and grow by investing in digital technology, so I’m well placed to advise people – whatever sector they’re in – on digitisation, from large-scale equipment through to software and CRM systems.


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What makes the Connector service so useful for North East businesses?

I’d say it’s the breadth of experience the team has. I can draw on the expertise of my fellow Connectors – for example, Ken has great knowledge of HR, and Karen’s background includes time at the Department for International Trade – so between us, we are a one-stop-shop and we can make sure people always get the advice they need.

We also cover the whole North East CA region and can tell businesses about support available for them region-wide as well as in their local area. One minute I can be talking to someone in Berwick and my next call could be with a business in Barnard Castle.

What are your top tips for anyone running a small business in the North East?

Firstly, keep an eye on cash flow. I find it’s very common amongst small and micro businesses for people to be so busy doing the day-to-day work that they take their eye off the back office. Make sure you set up your accounts, invoices and financial systems correctly from the start or you could run into difficulties.

It’s also important to have a business plan from the very beginning and to develop plans and forecasts for a range of scenarios, both good and bad. Revisit your plan regularly and make sure it’s adaptable. This is especially important now, when we’re seeing so much change in the UK economy.

There’s plenty of support out there to help you with these things so make sure you take advantage of it – starting by making an appointment to chat to me or one of the other North East Growth Hub Connectors!