Being a commercial council means different things to different groups of people within the organisation. It could mean making the most of existing contracts, improving efficiencies in ways of delivering a service, identifying opportunities for new customers or exploring new business opportunities to maximise income of the council.
Following a survey of over 100 senior managers of local government authorities in the UK, Capita defined four areas where local authorities will need to develop their commerical skills:
- Making money - doing something that generates profits.
- Behaving in a more business like way - adopting the skills and culture of commercial organisations.
- Commissioning councils - creating a separation between service commissioners and the providers.
- Being business friendly - promoting local economic growth and prosperity.
To become more commercially focussed the senior managers identified two key areas for staff development. These were encouraging staff to act in an entrepreneurial way and to adopt a less risk-averse mindset.
Developing commercial skills
These cultural changes can be supported by developing new skills and knowledge. The commercial skills section provides a range of resources to help you and your team develop your commercial skills.
- Marketing and sales to distinguish the product or service and identify the target market.
- Entrepreneurial skills to motivate innovation and creativity.
- Team activities to generate ideas.
- Leadership skills that stimulate a commercial mindset.
If you are a line manager consider showing a relevant video in a team meeting to promote a discussion about how you could work in a way that would promote a commercial mindset, or to stimulate a discussion about a specific commercial goal.
These two videos provide an introduction to developing commercial awareness skills.
Building commercial awareness takes time and on-the-job experience. In addition to accessing these resources here are some tips on how to broaden your awareness of the business world:
- Read the specialist press for the area you want to provide services in.
- Keep informed about business in general by reading business publications, listening to the news and following relevant organisations in social media.
- Think about the impact of current affairs on local private sector organisations, charities and government services.
- Research the wider issues that affect the Council.