'What do you want your business to be when it grows up?': Collaborating to help Lancashire's companies post-Covid
The year was 2015 and, after taking redundancy from her job of 12 years, Louisa Scanlan realised that it was very much a case of now or never.
“There was never going to be another opportunity as good as this to just do it and start my own company, so I thought ‘if I want to do something for myself, now is the time’,” says Louisa. “It was a real last-minute decision but I went for it and it’s just gone from strength to strength.”
That something was Collaborate Business Solutions. Founded in 2015, the company is all about helping other companies succeed and was founded off the back of Louisa’s two-and-a-half decades’ experience in human resources.
Over the years, she’d heard a lot about people’s problems, and so she wanted to start offering some solutions instead.
“Collaborate is all about helping organisations work as effectively as they can and, from the outset, it wasn’t about HR in the traditional sense; it’s about supporting organisations through growth and change,” says Louisa, 47. “Starting out was exciting and terrifying because, when you’ve spent 10 years in a corporate structure, you don’t have those networks.
“I had to start from scratch and build that reputation and those first two years were particularly hard work,” adds Louisa, who wanted to develop a more flexible work schedule around her then-five-year-old daughter. “But I was fortunate to get work with the University of Liverpool so they became my main client and it went from there.”
As the name suggests, Collaborate works on the innately sensible premise that collaboration helps companies achieve their goals far more effectively and quickly.
To that end, the company is dedicated to helping businesses - from start-ups to those looking to complete mergers - to develop a workplace culture, manage change, and draw up concrete strategies.
Louisa also offers state-of-the-art psychometric testing and behavioural assessments to assist employees and employers alike pinpoint ways in which they can work together more harmoniously.
“There can be reticence with things like the psychometrics but, once people start to understand, it’s a massive eye-opener and can help organisations understand what they want the future to look like,” Louisa explains. “If people author what that looks like themselves, they’re more likely to own it and, when you get that buy-in, it’s really fulfilling.
“People like the security of ‘tried-and-tested’, but we give them a renewed sense of energy and a buzz and the reaction is really refreshing,” adds Louisa, who lives in Clitheroe. “The ethos of the organisations with whom I work has to be right: they have to want to take part and all my work has been through recommendation, so growth has been organic.”
Typically offering one-to-one coaching and workshops to support individuals or groups as well as bespoke and tailored training programmes, Collaborate has had to adapt during the Covid pandemic, with Louisa launching a new programme called ‘Reset, Reinvent, Reinvigorate’ at the start of the year to help businesses take stock after the last 12 months and put plans into action.
“It’s been tough during Covid; pretty much everything disappeared during March and the first two months were horrendous,” she says. “It was like ‘oh, good Lord, what am I going to do?’ but I was fortunate to have a couple of clients who kept us on and we moved things online and, overall, it’s enabled me to be much more creative.
“I’ve also had time to reflect on how I want the business to look and take stock of the economic environment,” adds Louisa. “At the minute, we’re really focusing on the fact that people have been apart for a year and how we can support organisations as they transition to ‘the new normal’, as much as I hate that phrase!
“As I say to clients: ‘What do you want your business to be when it grows up?’”