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Ken Arnold

Ken Arnold has wide-ranging business experience that puts him in an ideal position to offer advice and support to people running businesses in almost any sector in the North East.

Introductions

I became a Growth Hub Business Support Adviser over five years ago after managing the knowledge bank that underpins the national Business Support Helpline for six years. There I worked with national and regional business support providers, so I understand business support options and resources from a national to a local level. It was good to return to a business adviser role that I had done previously, where I could help individuals and businesses directly to help themselves.

I retain an HR consultancy role one day per week, delivering strategy through the people. The company I work with is striving for Investors in People Gold. I’ve done separate freelance roles involving technology transfer, proof of concept research, work with university spinouts, plus with those exploring the journey from unemployment to self-employment. 

Earlier career experience included a strategic marketing role with an engineering firm manufacturing parts for the automotive, heating, and white goods sectors. I had started out working in textile manufacturing, in sales, marketing and business development roles, dealing with retailers and mail order companies, where customer service was paramount. 

What kinds of businesses do you support as a Business Support Adviser? 

My background helps me to support and relate to a broad range of businesses including health and life sciences, manufacturing, digital and professional services. On the health and life sciences side, it’s encouraging to support opportunities for more and better jobs and better health for the region too. 

As well as my own knowledge, the Business Support Advisers have access to a range of sector specialists, both within the North East Combined Authority, and in partner organisations. I often refer people to specialist programmes or networks which are suitable for their type or stage of business. 

Are your appointments with businesses one-offs, or can people come back if they need more advice? 

After my initial chat with someone – which could last for anything from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on their situation and level of requirements – I follow up with an email that includes the relevant support, resources and options that best meet their needs. 

Sometimes, people access the support once and move on. Others will come back to let me know how it’s going and to ask about support for their next stage of growth. The most satisfying are those that are confident to recommend me to others. “You don’t know me, but … says I should speak with you.” It’s great to be able to add value like this and support businesses throughout their journey. 

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What are the benefits of using the Business Support Adviser service for business support? 

People can have a conversation with me that’s confidential and impartial. I’m not here to promote a particular product. I look at the bigger picture of what can help you and your business. I can save you considerable time in searching, particularly if you don’t know what you are looking for. I provide a sounding board, so you can check your thinking and make sure you haven’t missed anything significant. 

As I’ve worked with national business support organisations, I have a good picture of what’s available nationally through organisations like Innovate UK and the Department for Business & Trade, as well as regional support for businesses across the North East. 

What’s your top tip for someone who’s recently started a business? 

Be open to asking for, listening to and acting on advice. Whether it’s from other people who are running a business, via a local business network or enterprise agency, through professional services, or from someone like me and my adviser colleagues. We’re here to help. 

Make an appointment with a North East Growth Hub Business Support Adviser here.