Business Generator is a model for managing innovation and growth in SME´s, with a structured method on how to use external expertise and give concrete results.
Business Generator has identified a gap in the strategic management process of local businesses and their need to introduce new impulses. The norm is to have a board of directors, but SME´s seldom make use of external directors. The idea behind the project is based on research results presented by Johansson and Lööf, Cecis, focused on the ability of companies to utilise internal and external expertise and convert it into innovations and growth. The researchers indicated that businesses could make large gains if they were prepared to benefit from using external competence. For most entrepreneurs bringing in external expertise is a major, time-consuming activity. A BG is staffed with four individuals: two men and two women, each with different profiles and skills chosen to match the needs of the enterprise. One of the individuals has analytic capability. Another has empathy and focus on customer benefits. The third has experience of managing development processes. And finally, one is creative, innovative and will look into the future. The focus is on identifying the keys to success for each business. Acting as coaches, they ask the challenging questions that result in new decisions and tangible change. Positive change can only happen in a safe environment and the team became that safe and open-minded platform for the entrepreneur. They met 10 times over three years.

Resources needed

One full time project manager and one project assistant.
Financial officer 10 %.
Four people around 20 companies, not the same in every group, in total 55 persons.
The financiers participated in the meeting and Business Generators board.

Evidence of success

Twenty companies increased their sales on average by 29 % (EUR 5 443 357) and profitability with 272 % (EUR 799 674 in total) over two years. 45 new jobs. They also bought more external service when they started to scale-up. Tax revenues climbed by EUR 860 361. Gender equality in the group adds perspective to the development process. The attitudes of local banks are crucial for development opportunities for businesses. Follow-up has included collection of statistics after two years with a BG.

Difficulties encountered

Hard to attract SME´s to invest in entrepreneurial skills. Difficulty describing their process - what it costed. It´s impossible to scale-up, if you don´t think strategic thoughts. “With my BG I am running a business for real. I went from being self-employed to a business leader.”

Potential for learning or transfer

Business Generator won EEPA 2017. After the ceremony the jury told us that there has never been such an easy decision, BG is easy to adopt all over Europe and scalable SME´s are Europe´s future. If their visions are matched with competences that can show the way, it will be a more rewarding journey for the entrepreneurs.
The sky is NOT the limit. One of the main key success factors was the network around the entrepreneur. All four had their own entrepreneurial success story. If we needed someone that we couldn´t find in our region, Skype helped us.
BG is based on research about growing with external competence, it also shows that export companies survive better. It would be a pleasure to build a network in Europe that connect SME´s and give them what they need to become scalable ones. Many companies disappear today because they took the wrong decision, without talking to others. With a professional BG they are a team with one goal; support that makes a difference and fulfil dreams!
Main institution
Norra Mellansverige, Sweden (Sverige)
Start Date
January 2015
End Date
December 2017


Erica Åkerberg Please login to contact the author.

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