Case study: helping a small business build an effective strategy

Tracey Dawson, Managing Director of Daletech

Tracey Dawson with her Top 100 award from The Manufacturer magazine

Tracey Dawson is Managing Director of Daletech Electronics, a renowned manufacturing company in Pudsey, Leeds.

The business was set up in 1987 by Tracey and her husband and saw fantastic organic growth through strong local networks and the enthusiasm and skills of its founders. By 2017 the organisation was at around 20 employees, but the business was facing a number of significant challenges and Tracey felt that the business needed to adapt and build a clear strategy and roadmap in order to remain competitive.

“Our leadership team didn’t have training in business strategy, we were brilliant at what we did, which was electronics manufacturing, but we didn’t know the first thing about building a business plan.”

Tracey started actively approaching some consultants to see if they could help her, but felt quite overwhelmed by what they saying and the costs involved. Instead after receiving recommendations by three separate colleagues she applied for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme, which was delivered in part by Leeds University Business School.

“It was an incredibly eye opening programme. Professor Sarah Underwood and the team were absolutely brilliant. It also helped me think strategically about our business in a very modular way and identify which priorities we needed to tackle first and how to approach those challenges in a simple straightforward way.”

It was really empowering to give yourself the skills to be able to plan out the future of your organisation.

The Goldman Sachs programme brings together leaders of small businesses from across industry sectors and creates unique networking and peer learning opportunities.

“When you run a small family business, you have so much noise around you and it’s easy to get distracted and lose sight of what it is that really makes your business a success. After the programme I realised we really needed to focus on what makes us different;  who we are, where we want to go, and what makes our proposition so unique.”

The programme helped Daletech build a focused strategy for growth that still underpins their business today, and allowed them to employ a kickstart employee and grow their workforce.

In 2020 when Covid-19 impacted business, Tracey decided to take part in Leeds University Business School’s SME Peer Network Programme, which brought together local business leaders to collaboratively work through the challenges they were facing.

When you’re running a small business, you can be so much more at risk from external events impacting your business and it can often feel quite a lonely environment. Programmes like these that bring people together are so important to help you build resilience, reflect on your journey and refocus your mind on the things that matter the most.

The programme helped Tracey to adapt her business strategy to ensure continued growth despite the challenges that the pandemic brought.

Tracey is also the Chair of the Leeds Manufacturing Alliance and helps organise the Leeds Manufacturing Festival and understands how important it is to bring business together to network and share ideas. In 2021, Tracey joined the Leeds University Business School’s Executive and Professional Education Advisory Board and plays a key role in advising on our support for businesses.

“One thing I always see with the small business owners I meet is that they’re really struggling to think strategically. They are so involved in the day to day that they don’t think about the future and where their business is going. It’s not their fault, it’s the demands of the job. But having an experienced team at the Business School to help guide you in developing a plan is really important. Sarah and the team have always been brilliant and their knowledge second-to-none.”

“I've been getting more involved in lots of exciting initiatives across the region, and being a part of the Business School is another great opportunity to work with businesses and support the local economy.”

Find out more about our programmes for small business leaders.