7 Develop your own ability to provide business support


This is about developing your performance, in terms of your skills in supporting clients. There are a number of different areas of business support. These can be defined, for example in terms of:

  • support functions (for example, marketing, finance, e-business or information technology);
  • business sectors (for example, construction, bio-tech, retail, health or creative);
  • business life cycles (for example, pre-start, start-up, growth or steady state); and
  • business types (for example, freelance, trade, professional or social enterprise).

Your practice may be focused in a particular area of business support or be more general. Whatever the limits of your current practice your aim should be to continuously develop your skills in supporting clients., You should look at this from a personal, career point of view and take account of the needs of the organisation for which you work

What you need to show

You must make sure that your practice meets the following requirements.

  1. Evaluate, at appropriate intervals, the requirements of your professional role, taking account of the expectations and objectives of your organisation.
  2. Maintain a level of knowledge and understanding that meets or exceeds market expectations about:
    • business practice for small businesses;
    • the range of business support that is available for typical problems in each key area;
    • trends, opportunities and developments in business practice that may affect small businesses; and
    • developments in business support practice that may affect the support you and your service provide.
    • use of information and communications technology
  3. Change the way you work in line with any changes in business practice and how business support is provided.
  4. Obtain the best available information, given the time and cost available.
  5. Use feedback from clients, contacts and colleagues about your performance to identify any gaps between the current and future requirements of your professional role and your current skills, knowledge and understanding.
  6. Adopt a reflective and evaluative approach to your practice, with reference to your own objectives and recognised professional standards
  7. Plan your own training and development in line with your organisation’s objectives and recognised CPD.
  8. Update your personal development plan to include new aims or achievements.

What you need to know and understand

You need to know, understand and be able to apply each of the following.

Ethical and professional considerations

  1. You need to know and follow any guidelines provided by your organisation or professional body for business advice services, about:
    • ethics, values and standards of good practice; and
    • client service and confidentiality.

Personal action planning

  1. How to evaluate the current requirements of your work role and how the requirements may evolve in the future.
  2. How to identify development needs to address any identified gaps between the requirements of your practice and your current knowledge, understanding and skills.
  3. How to improve your understanding of business practice generally, or in particular areas.
  4. How to set objectives which are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound).
  5. How to plan actions.
  6. The principles that underpin professional development.
  7. The reasons for continuing professional development [CPD].
  8. Your strengths and weaknesses.
  9. Your values and career and personal goals and how to relate them to your job role and professional development.
  10. What an effective development plan should contain and the length of time that it should cover.
  11. The learning style(s) which work(s) best for you (eg Kolb experiential model; auditory, visual, tactile/kinaesthetic; collaborative/activist, individual/reflective, theory-based/theorist or practice-led/pragmatist).
  12. How to update work objectives and development plans in the light of performance, feedback received, any development activities undertaken and any wider changes.
  13. The way your organisation works (including resources, objectives, targets and training and development budget).
  14. The objectives of your organisation for personal development (for example, opportunities, costs, timescales and targets and an annual personal development plan).

Improving your performance

  1. The standards of performance set by your organisation or professional body.
  2. How to evaluate your performance against the requirements of your work-role.
  3. How to identify and use good sources of feedback on your performance.
  4. How to monitor the quality of your work and your progress against requirements and plans.
  5. How to develop your knowledge about and experience of providing business support.
  6. The advantages and disadvantages of different types of development activities you could use (for example, attending conferences, workshops or master classes, undertaking work placements or joining specialist groups, using advice from mentors or seeking more opportunity to practise).
  7. Whether and how development activities have contributed to your performance.

Personal behaviours

You need to show the following behaviours.

  1. Invite a two-way exchange of information and feedback with others. IiP6.3
  2. Develop self to improve performance. IiP7.2
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