The History of the IIB

The Institute was founded in 1984 as the Institute for Independent British Business to provide practical advice that works—
useful information, hands-on help for the independent business sector.

  • In comparison with large corporations, the independent business typically operated in isolation with the necessary
    network of contacts and information providers normally accessible to big business.
  • Furthermore, by virtue of their light management structure, independent businesses often lacked fundamental skills in
    key aspects of management that were required to maintain and grow a successful business.
  • The Institute was therefore conceived as a single reference point for the independent /SME sector where information
    and practical impartial advice could readily be obtained.

First Steps

  • A monthly publication, Small Business Today, became the initial means of disseminating relevant information to the
    SME marketplace. Small Business Today contained a plethora of information and matter of current interest—special
    loan programs for SME's, changes in legislation affecting SME's, etc.
  • In particular, management techniques often used in the large business environment were reported on and modified for
    use by managers in the small business sector. Articles on matters pertaining to training, finance and marketing were
  • Commercial computerized databases, rapidly coming on stream during this period, were inaccessible to the majority
    of the SME's who lacked the computer equipment and often the expertise to access the systems.
  • As early as 1985 it became clear that this method was impractical, given the diverse requests for advice. A system
    called the Hotline Advisor Program was adopted, whereby experts in particular fields undertook to give free telephone
    advice to any Institute member over the telephone for up to 30 minutes. The contact name and telephone numbers
    were published in each addition of The Index of Experts; this gave members access to those with specialized
    knowledge and enabled members rapidly to obtain professional advice on almost any business topic from
    accountancy to warehousing.
  • Further Development
  • It was clear that the SME sector required not only information and advice in order to survive and grow but also the
    practical assistance in the form of both 'process' and 'expert' business advice. Moreover, in order to be effective, 'pure
    ' business advice had to be combined with practical and structured implementation. It was evident that the major
    consultancy practices were unable or unwilling to fulfill this need as their cost structures and their non-
    implementation style was generally not suited or acceptable to the SME sector.

At this time large numbers of senior and middle managers with many years' experience were being made redundant.  Many of
these individuals had excellent and useful skills, which could be deployed in the SME sector, if only the correct means of
delivery could be established.

  • The Institute therefore created the Consultancy Business Development Program (CDBP) to provide suitable managers
    with a framework for developing independent Business Advisory practices directed specifically at the SME sector.
  • The CBDP was started in January 1991 and to January 2004 over 2000 individuals had completed the Residential
    Business School and twelve-month support course to become Accredited Associates, with their own Advisory
  • The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of Associates is catered for by the Institute through the provision of
    monthly training workshops/forums, a monthly internal publication, Update, an email facility that provides a platform for
    the exchange of information, problem solving and sharing expertise, and an interactive Web site.

The Business Support Program

  • The Institute's ongoing research into methods of improving the delivery of information, advice and management skills
    to the SME sector has led to the development of the Business Support Program (BSP). Research showed that to
    improve the performance of the SME it was necessary to facilitate incremental improvements in all aspects of
    company activity rather than concentrating on any one single aspect. In traditional consultancy, which is usually
    project-based, it was acceptable to address single issues in isolation. This is both impractical and unwise for an SME.
  • Thus, as an example, to undertake marketing Business Advice for an SME without providing hands-on help in such
    matters as finance, personnel and production, etc. Was likely to cause imbalances and hinder rather than expedite
  • Under a Business Support Program (BSP) a Lead Adviser is appointed who, over a period of time and using standard
    analytical techniques, can become fully familiar with a client's business. The Lead Adviser is then responsible for
    bringing in appropriate Associates from the Institute network to provide specific expertise. Thus the client has access
    to a full palette of skills so that improvements to all aspects of performance may be achieved in a coordinated manner.
  • The BSP is paid for by clients on a monthly retainer basis. This allows the client to draw on advisers' time as and when
    required. The result is that for a fixed and known cost, clients have access to the full range of skills that would
    normally only be available from the Board and senior management of a large company.
  • Through the BSP, the Institute has provided a method and structure for overcoming, in an acceptable commercial
    manner, the expertise gap that exists in the typical SME management structure. And as the needs of SMEs are found
    to be common in all countries, Associates of the Institute continue to enjoy remarkable success worldwide.
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