Business leaders displayed a real desire to learn more about gearing up for high-level growth at an Entrepreneurs’ Forum exchange event.

Business innovation strategist Paul Sutherland revealed the latest thinking on long-term strategies to a group of 50 ambitious North East entrepreneurs at the event, which provides members access to expertise and real world advice.

Focusing on how businesses can thrive in complex environments, and how to take advantage of any opportunity, Paul advised how to establish a vision for long-term growth and the strategies required to make it a reality.

One of the concepts Paul, a senior partner at +ADD Strategy, spoke of was the red ocean versus blue ocean.

The red represents a crowded marketplace where businesses require robust strategies to beat off the competition. Meanwhile, a blue ocean is a peaceful business environment where a company creates a new product that allows it to grow uncontested.

One of those who attended was Ralph Thompson, owner of Northumberland-based Silvermoor Haylage, who said: “It certainly got me thinking of how I can apply some of these concepts to my own business.

“For example, the market for haylage is currently very competitive as the weather last year was so good for growing grass.

“However, we have developed some niche ‘blue ocean’ products which are resulting in rising export sales.

“Meanwhile, we are currently building an additional site for the business, which will incorporate a grass drying line. This will both help us grow our core market and allow us to introduce new products.

“I spend much of my time on the farm, so these events organised by the Forum are very welcome as it’s such a benefit to mix with other like-minded businesspeople.”

Andy Stevenson, CEO of Darlington-based engineering firm Ardmore Craig, also said some of the business strategies highlighted by Paul Sutherland had proved useful.

“It’s easy to focus on the day to day, so it’s great to be able to step outside the business and listen to new ideas and it was useful to think about how I can modify them and relate them to my own business.

“Ardmore Craig has just completed its 300th contract and has secured a further five orders as the market continues to pick up, so I’m very optimistic about the future.”

Jonathan Lamb, chief executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said the event had highlighted the importance of businesses developing more considered and longer-term strategies, allowing them to reach target customers and maintain a cutting edge over their competitors.

“It was a thought-provoking event for our members and fitted perfectly into the Forum’s ethos, which is to support, inform and inspire.”