Going for Growth is the brain child of Paula Fitzsimons who put it forward in response to an initiative on women and entrepreneurship proposed by the NDP Gender Equality Unit in the then Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
“The idea came from recognition that while more women are being encouraged to start new businesses, there is a need to move beyond just starting into growing. My mission in Going for Growth is to support women entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions and to get more women entrepreneurs into a growth frame of mind.”
SUPPORTING GROWTH IN A UNIQUE MANNER
Participants are offered a unique learning environment with a peer led approach based on the shared experiences of both a Lead Entrepreneur and other participants facing common challenges.
The Going for Growth round tables are centred on experienced or Lead Entrepreneurs, who each give about three hours of their time on a voluntary basis once a month to meet with a small group of women owner managers to support their development. The round table sessions explore a series of relevant questions related to growth and work through a series of agendas which explore relevant questions with a focus on achieving growth.
The initiative has been endorsed by some successful business women who have agreed to become involved in the initiative as Lead Entrepreneurs. (Read more about the Lead Entrepreneurs). These busy and successful business women have agreed to give their time on a voluntary basis to support women entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions.
The most important attributes of the Lead Entrepreneurs are that they have experience of growing a business and have personal experience of the growth journey on which the participants are embarking. Each is prepared to share her learning with women entrepreneurs committed to growth, but whose businesses are less developed at this stage.
Most owner managers agree that it can be a very isolating experience and it can be difficult to find someone on your wavelength who understands the issues involved. The Going for Growth round table initiative is designed to address these challenges.
Going for Growth is designed to be action and results oriented and to go beyond class room style learning and the usual inputs of professional trainers, consultants and academics. The round tables are designed not to be theoretical or academic, but to be based on real experience of what has worked and what hasn’t worked in real life situations.
A National Forum is an integral part of the Going for Growth cycle. The Forum is designed to provide an opportunity to participants and Leads to network and to explore further a number of topics that all the round table groups consider important to their current situation.
GOING FOR GROWTH COMES HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Over 500 women entrepreneurs have already participated in a cycle of Going for Growth. In almost every case the round table sessions translated into practical changes within their businesses; they got great benefit from the National Forum and they felt nearer to achieving their growth goals as a result of their participation in Going for Growth. Besides an increase in their confidence, ambition and motivation, most of the participants (75%) in the 8th cycle of Going for Growth (2016) increased their turnover over the six months of the cycle by an average of 33%, bringing the turnover of the group to over €33.2 million. There was a 43% increase in the number of exporters among the group. An additional 70 jobs were created by participants (+17%), while 415 existing jobs were strengthened.
It is clear that the women entrepreneurs benefited greatly from their participation in Going for Growth and are prepared to publicly say so, click here to read more.
In 2014 Going for Growth was noted as an inspiring practice by the EU and OECD LEED (Local Economic and Employment Development) in a report entitled “The Missing Entrepreneurs”. In June following a competitive process, Going for Growth received a good practice accolade from the European Institute of Gender Equality (EIGE). TheGoing for Growth team were delighted that Finland became the first country outside Ireland to successfully pilot the initiative during 2014.
Going for Growth won the Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills Category at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2015. The Awards took place in Luxembourg on the 19th of November.
Paula is the founder and managing director of Fitzsimons Consulting, which specialises in areas related to entrepreneurship and growth. Currently the National Director of Going for Growth, Paula can be contacted at email@example.com
A recognised expert on entrepreneurship, Paula Fitzsimons has been the national coordinator for GEM for Ireland since 2000. The annual GEM report is recognised as giving a unique insight into early stage entrepreneurial activity in Ireland. Paula is a former President of the consortium of GEM national teams, and a former Director of GERA, the governing body for the Global Entrepreneurship Research Association.
Having been an expert facilitator to the Small Business Forum on entrepreneurship and growth, Paula subsequently advised Forfás and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on the development of a national entrepreneurship policy and was involved in the writing of Towards the Development of an Entrepreneurship Policy. Both emphasised the importance of optimising the number of start-up businesses and, in particular, on maximising the number of start-ups aspiring to and achieving high growth. In this regards, the latent potential of women entrepreneurs was recognised.
Equally at home, among policy makers, development agencies, academics, and entrepreneurs, Paula is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic champion of entrepreneurship. Her advice is frequently sought in areas associated with entrepreneurship and growth. A regular speaker at national and international conferences.