After a year of developing and running peer-to-peer networks for regional business leaders, Sussex Innovation is searching for the last few companies to join the final cohort of our successful Bamboo Club programme.

The Bamboo Club is funded by the Business East Sussex Pivot Programme, and is open to founders and directors of high-growth businesses in East Sussex. Facilitated by Sussex Innovation’s expert consultancy team, these sessions have been specifically designed with the needs of the region’s most ambitious and fastest-growing businesses in mind. The content is informed by the common strategies, operational and cultural challenges that come with building a larger team.

Over the past few months we’ve been speaking to every participant about why they joined the programme, and the most critical challenges they’re facing in 2022. There are several common themes that are clearly occupying the thoughts of founders and business owners right now.

Attracting and retaining talent

Nearly every business leader we spoke to pointed out that ambitious businesses in East Sussex are held back by the struggle to recruit and retain the talent they need. Today’s workforce is more discerning than ever before about their choice of career path, and organisations simply cannot thrive without having a plan in place to become an ’employer of choice’.

Recruiting tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated in this environment, and successful businesses will learn to treat their recruitment strategy with the same care and attention that they put into marketing messages. Your brand identity and company narrative are no longer written with just the customer in mind – they are equally important tools for attracting potential employees who share your vision and values.

“The session on brand storytelling was very impactful, and we’ve made a whole host of changes inspired by that.” – Joel Fielder, founder, Switchplane Ltd

Attracting Talent

Leadership and workplace culture

There was also recognition that in order to retain talent, businesses must back up their recruitment strategies with a positive workplace culture informed by strong leadership. As well as benefitting employee wellbeing, prioritising culture is also proven to increase productivity.

The widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work models brought on by the pandemic has only cemented the need for clear direction and shared goals across companies. We now have the power to make many parts of the business more efficient through automation and mechanisation, and it’s important that we use this opportunity to focus teams on the most rewarding elements of work – those that still demand a human touch.

“The programme has made me consider my leadership style, the culture I want to be part of, and the importance of staff development, team building and management strategies. I feel like I have more of the tools and knowledge to do this now… we instigated a team day and restructured staff roles and responsibilities in a better way, that I hope will sustain the business for growth.” – Laura Queening, founder, Aura Que Ltd

Resilience in the face of change

Recent years have dealt small businesses a series of social and economic shocks, including the disruptions of Brexit, the pandemic and war in Europe, and the pressing need to transition towards Net Zero.

Our cohort of business owners were understandably concerned about supply chain stability, rising prices and incoming regulation, and how these changes may impact their business. They are looking for methods and tools to help increase their resilience and plan for sustainable growth in the face of these changes.

Business resilience has been a core theme of the Bamboo Club since its inception – the club is named for bamboo’s flexibility and ability to continue growing in the face of extreme conditions. The peer-to-peer sessions act as a forum for business leaders to discuss the questions to which there are no simple answers. By bringing a range of perspectives and experiences together, you’ll hear examples of what has worked for others, hold each other accountable, and have a trusted group of equals who’ll be direct and up-front with their advice.

“The Bamboo Club gave me the confidence to restructure my business and build to meet the ever-changing world we are in at the moment. The result is that I’m fully booked and growing again… it will ultimately ensure I am better equipped to steer the business into the next 10 years.” – Michael McCarthy, founder, Safer Health and Safety


Does your business have at least 5 employees and an annual turnover of at least £200,000? This is your last call to join the Bamboo Club for a fully-funded support programme of masterclasses, one-on-one coaching and action learning with a motivated peer group. Find out more and register your business here.

The Bamboo Club is part of the Business East Sussex Pivot Programme, managed by the Business East Sussex Growth Hub on behalf of East Sussex County Council and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.