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Most successful business owners did not go to Managing Director School before starting their business!

This unique course is meant for busy owners of small and medium sized businesses. As a business grows business owners have to learn to play by a new set of rules. The obk  mini MBA attracts successful and aspiring business leaders and managers who want to benefit from a formal training in areas of business analysis and development.

This is a highly focused course that covers the essential areas of business leadership and management as they apply to smaller businesses in just 30 hours. The monthly 3 hour sessions start at 8am and finish promptly at 11am. Each ‘MBA’ group is small and the sessions interactive and run over a calendar year, starting in January and ending in December.

Of course it is not a real Masters degree. People who attend this course are not looking for any recognised qualification, but for a better way to think about and run their business.

Check dates and book a place

Who is this for

The course is unashamedly directed at the needs of owner-managers and their businesses. Many “graduates” send fellow team members to attend subsequent courses

What will you get from this course

You will get an understanding of the major disciplines required to run a successful business. You will cover:

Mini-MBA syllabus

How we think, learn, make judgements and make decisions

  • Heuristics and bias
  • The simplified “Onion” brain
  • The myth of rationality
  • System 1 and system 2 thinking (Kahneman)
  • 6 principles of influence (Cialdini)
  • Anchoring and Framing


  • The critical role of leadership in growing a successful business
  • The difference between leadership and management
  • The 5 levels of leadership
  • Leadership as a function not a position
  • Leadership is a verb
  • Soliciting discretionary effort from your team
  • Understanding what “drives” your people
  • 8 qualities of an inspiring leader
  • Untangling goals, mission, vision and purpose
  • Leading change and the 8 reasons why change efforts fail

Wealth, profits and value

  • Where does wealth and profit come from?
  • The Law of comparative advantage
  • Intellectual capital as the source of all wealth
  • Constituent parts of intellectual capital
  • How businesses create and capture value
  • Effectiveness Vs. efficiency
  • Innovation and value proposition design
  • The value equation
  • The determinates of value?
  • The 5 ‘C’s of value
  • Business as a force for good
  • Porter’s 5 forces and pushing back against them

Competitive strategy

  • Distinguishing between strategy and planning
  • Understanding strategy is only ever a theory
  • Market segmentation vs. Competitive positioning
  • Positioning vs. operational effectiveness
  • Strategy relies on unique activities
  • The importance of “Trade-offs” in sustaining advantage
  • The cost of under or over servicing customers
  • Understanding and meeting customer needs
  • Sources of competitive advantage
  • Porter’s 2 generic competitive strategies
  • Sources of non -Price differentiation
  • Halo effects
  • The importance of proprietary differentiation
  • The problems with straddling (Being stuck in the middle)
  • Blue Ocean vs. Red Ocean Strategy
  • Articulating and communicating strategy
  • The holy trinity of business model design
  • The cunning plan for most small businesses

Finance and financial management

  • How to read and use financial statements
  • The critical difference between profit and cashflow
  • Why businesses need to make investments
  • The 5 purposes of a balance sheet
  • The 4 sources of business finance and their relative merits
  • Equity Vs. debt finance
  • Key ratios for financial analysis
  • Mark up Vs Margin
  • Business models and the finance implications
  • The 4 types of cost and their behaviour
  • Break-even analysis
  • Driving profitability – the 7 leverage points
  • Understanding profit quality
  • The lifetime value of customers
  • Understanding working capital and the working capital gap
  • Assessing solvency
  • Predicting cash flows
  • What financial accounts do not tell you
  • Pareto analysis and the whale curve
  • The balanced scorecard
  • Using lag and lead metrics
  • EBITA and EBITDA – What, why and how
  • Evaluating potential investments
  • How businesses are valued and sold


  • The 2 simple steps to people management
  • Managing people or process?
  • Using measurements or judgement?
  • Qualitative vs quantitative approaches
  • KPIs
  • OKRs
  • Sponsoring innovation
  • After Action Reviews
  • The system is the solution
  • Using performance standards


  • The pricing paradox
  • The volume vs. margin trade-off
  • Commodities and differentiation
  • Cost led pricing vs. price led costing
  • Extracting the consumer surplus
  • Alternative pricing methodologies
  • How customers assess value
  • Pricing psychology
  • Decoy pricing
  • Using pricing to change customer behaviour
  • Dealing with price objections
  • The 6 myths of pricing

Marketing and sales

  • What is marketing?
  • The 4 P’s of marketing
  • Developing a marketing plan
  • Understanding your marketing funnel
  • Marketing ROI
  • The desirability vs achievability trade-off
  • Picking the low hanging fruit
  • Reversing customer risk
  • Using guarantees
  • Referral programmes
  • Using host / beneficiary relationships
  • Test and measure
  • The principles of consultative selling

Personal skills – mini topics

  • The 7 habits of Highly Effective People (S Covey)
  • Presentation tips
  • Delegation
  • Managing priorities
  • Managing meetings

Business simulation game- Simbiz

During the course students are be expected to play a business simulation game called Simbiz.  The game is run over 8 months and students are invited to make 7 decisions per month around their price, production quantity, marketing spend etc. Decisions are entered into the simulation model and the financial results are calculated and presented to students before they make decisions for the following month.  Playing this game is meant to be fun but is also a tool for students to learn how to regularly review and use financial reports to support decision making.

Sturdy Case Enterprises – Case study

Students are expected to read and analyse a 27,000-word case study based on a fictitious and highly dysfunctional family business and to present their findings to their fellow students at the end of the course.   Although this is not an examination and students cannot fail, it is a useful exercise for each student to demonstrate and reinforce learning from the course. 

Past attendees
The OBK MBA attracts successful and aspiring business leaders who want to benefit from a structured training in areas of business analysis and development. The course has been running since 2003 and over that time many business owners and their team members have “graduated” and have gone on to run better businesses.

Course format
The course takes place over a calendar year with 11 3-hour sessions. The sessions start early to allow you to be back in the office before lunch. Each session is designed to be highly interactive with places are limited to 12 people for each group.

Course leader
Paul Kennedy is a Chartered Accountant and has been providing business development consulting services to owner managed businesses for more than 22 Years. Paul continually studies why some owner managed businesses succeed while others fail and uses these insights when teaching this course. He has developed courses and seminars for various clients including Enterprise Agencies, Trade bodies, legal and accounting networks and firms, professional bodies and banks and regularly speaks to groups in United States, Australia, New Zealand as well as in the UK.

Course cost

£3,840.00 + VAT

Check course dates and book a place

Don’t take our word for it, view our video testimonials below…