In the last few decades particularly, this succinct phrase has taken on a new importance that many companies are keen to capitalise on. Research and information company, Melcrum Publishing, headed by Robin Crumby and Victoria Mellor is one such company which has been successfully publishing high level information on knowledge management, corporate communications and human resources since 1996.
According to Robin: “We act as a clearing house for good ideas, providing case studies and articles to help those in business make better decisions.”
Melcrum has grown consistently by around 30 per cent a year over the last three years and now employs 25 people at its London offices.
The company first began working with Business Link for London in 1997 and was soon introduced to a business adviser who had direct experience of their industry sector.
“Ours is an unusual business and we were very lucky to be assigned an individual who was immediately able to relate to our business,” explains Robin.
He continues: “In 1997 as a start-up business, we looked for sources of funding, training and advice, but our business adviser has been able to give us much more than that and we feel privileged that he is still working with us six years later.”
Asking the right questions
The directors at Melcrum publishing have regular mentoring and coaching sessions with their business adviser and Robin explains how this works.
“A typical session lasts a couple of hours and we will begin by running through what had happened since the last time we met – key projects, new product launches, business ideas. We also discuss how we implemented key points that arose during our last meeting and their outcomes. Our business adviser is skilled in asking the right questions rather than giving us the answers. He will help us focus on the future and where the company wants to be in three to five years time by looking at each of the suggestions we have made in turn and asking us how we see their impact on the company further down the line. This helps us look at our business at a strategic level, rising up from the problems and concerns we deal with daily.”
This forward-thinking strategy has been very successful for Melcrum, which now has an office in Chicago and customers in over 90 countries worldwide.
Learning and development
Two years ago, their business adviser suggested that Melcrum work towards achieving Investor’s in People status, which Robin found a stimulating experience.
“As we have always actively supported our staff in learning and development, we found that most of the required systems and procedures were already in place and it was a lot of fun having an external assessor in to look at how we ran that side of the business. We are now being encouraged to move onto the next stage of this process by working towards their Business Excellence Model.”
Robin is also a firm believer in entering business competitions, partly to benchmark his business against others, but also to promote the company.
Melcrum was recently chosen as a winner of Investors in People’s ‘Tipped for Success’ award for its established in-house ‘Melcrum Best Ideas’ competition. Robin explains that this is run quarterly and all employees are encouraged to come up with winning ideas for the business’s future. With a cash prize for the best ideas, there’s plenty of incentive for entering.
Such is the rise in national and Government recognition for industrial knowledge that Melcrum Publishing was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Queen’s Award for Export, an accolade often traditionally awarded to companies in the manufacturing industry which have a tangible export product.
“We didn’t win, but we were highly encouraged to achieve the shortlist,” said Robin who is currently preparing for yet another export competition, this time organised by Business Link.
Melcrum’s future seems well mapped out, according to Robin: “With our Business adviser’s help, we have worked hard to develop a vision for where we want to be in five years time and we’re confident that we’ll get there.”