The Alternative Board (York)

Supporting Yorkshire's Business owners.

Name: Elliot Rich

Position in the company: Owner

Years with the company: 4

The Alternative Board supports business owners to take their business to the next level.  Please expand.

The Alternative Board (TAB) is a global organisation that has spent the last 30 years working across the world to develop and fine tune its unique approach to supporting business owners.

At a local level, my role is about understanding every business owner I work with, what they want to achieve on a personal level, and what they want out of life. By understanding who they are and what drives them to create success and happiness, I can help them create strategic business plans to support that vision.

The TAB model is a combination of personal coaching and monthly facilitated ‘board’ meetings with other business owners, who each bring their own experiences from a variety of different sectors to the table. Every month our members share their challenges, knowledge, and experience to help them shape plans and make decisions that will drive their respective businesses to the next level. The monthly one-to-one coaching I run with every member follows up the board meetings and keeps my members on track and accountable.


What is the difference between a business coach and a mentor and how can businesses benefit from your approach?

For me, the role of a business coach is to question and challenge, and the role of a mentor is to share knowledge and experience. Being able to ask the right, probing, pertinent questions can help a business owner understand what they need to do to develop their business, but there are many situations when a client needs me to give a higher level of support based on my own experience.

The way I look at it is that I need to be a ‘chameleon’. At any point in time with a client, I need to know when to ask questions and when to use my 25 years’ experience as a business owner, board director, and business coach to offer more direct support or advice.

The benefit for business owners is that I will challenge them and ask the tough questions but, rather than leaving them to work out what to do once they have the answers, I will work with them, drawing on my own experiences – and those of their fellow TAB board members – to help them move forward.  


Please introduce us to your “Strategic Business Tools”.

The Strategic Business Tools are unique to TAB and are available to our members via an online portal. We call it the ‘TAB Blueprint’ and it is essentially a toolkit covering a range of business topics to help business owners focus on key areas of building a successful business.

For example, there is a series of short business diagnostic exercises that help people understand their current business position and look at where they need to focus or make changes. There are tools in there that help capture personal and business visions, through to SWOT analyses plus financial and strategic business planning tools. All of the tools are easy to use and help capture business insights that can then be used to shape a plan.


Which industries in Yorkshire do you work with and could you please disclose a success case study?

I’m currently working with 25+ business owners every month across the healthcare, professional services, property, retail, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, and IT industries. The fact is, TAB isn’t industry specific. It’s about supporting individual business owners by understanding their unique journey and purpose, as opposed to the industry they are operating in.  

A recent success story is James Fraser who runs an e-commerce business, The Framed Picture Company, in Malton. James has used TAB to help transform his thinking on the way he approaches his business purpose and brand, which has seen him achieve continued success throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of carefully considered decisions made earlier this year, the business has seen significant growth in online sales which is set to continue through to the end of the year heading into the Christmas period.

James has invested significantly in a brand new e-commerce website with improved branding and functionality, which is set to launch early in the new year, alongside a new business strategy and a clear plan to enhance his in house production and operations. James’s open-minded approach and willingness to look at different ways of doing things is key to this year’s success, and this epitomises what TAB is all about.

He says, “Like many business owners, I have thoughts and ideas going round in my head all the time and I had reached a point where I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

A sounding board, coach and mentor in one, Elliot challenges my thinking and has helped me get the business back on the right track by focusing on the things that will help move us forward. His input, and the support of my TAB board, have had a transformative impact on the business; immeasurably improving the quality of decision making, setting priorities, encouraging ambitious growth targets and developing a strategic action plan.  

Previously, everything was a bit “woolly”. Now, we have a clear strategy and a definite plan. Elliot is very good at distilling problems and instilling focus, and it’s great to have a bunch of like-minded people I can put ideas in front of and test decisions out on before I act. It reduces the chances of making bad decisions by enforcing some proper decision making discipline. Before Elliot and my TAB board, decisions were made in a flurry. Now, they are made with zen-like calm and focus.”


The website refers to a list of Nine Steps to Safeguard Your Business, could you please expand?

The nine steps have been developed to help business owners be proactive and put business continuity plans in place that will help mitigate against the risks of an emergency or crisis, from a major disaster to a minor service disruption.

Planning for a wide array of circumstances means companies will be better placed to rise above uncertain times. The tool has been developed and honed through the work The Alternative Board has done with thousands of businesses in 20 countries around the world over the last 30 years, and covers areas such as preserving cash, looking for opportunities to pivot your business model, leveraging your workforce, developing robust communications plans, customer retention and sales.