Derby-based duo triple turnover thanks to Help to Grow: Management Course

A Derby-based marketing and design business has tripled its turnover and grown the team headcount by 60% after learning to “stay in its lane”.

MacMartin was founded in 2017 after sisters Claire MacDonald and Anna Hutton decided to turn their freelancing careers into a small business. Combining their expertise in behavioural science and creative marketing, the firm now produces branding and marketing campaigns for clients across the UK.

Due to strong client demand, the business reported a significant growth curve throughout 2020-21 but faced various barriers to maintain stability. Claire decided to enrol in a 12-week Help to Grow: Management Course designed to help business leaders and their senior managers to increase resilience, innovation and growth within their organisations.

Delivered by the University of Derby’s business school – a recipient of the Small Business Charter award that recognises institutions that support small business - Claire finished the course with the tools needed to make improvements to stabilise the business’ growth and streamline its offering.

The year before enrolling on the Help to Grow: Management Course, the business reported a turnover of £212,000 (sept 2020- Aug 2021). But since completing the course, turnover has increased by almost three quarters to £456,000 (Sept 2021 – Aug 2022). The MacMartin team has also grown from seven employees to a team of 12.

 Claire MacDonald, design director of MacMartin, said: “We took away so much from the course but there were three key points that resulted in our success. First, we learned about the dangers of spending too much time in the business and not enough on the business. We’ve now got into a really good habit of setting aside time each week to have more strategic conversations and plan our future.

“The second big takeaway was around processes. Working in such a creative environment often means the structures are put in place last. We’ve worked hard since the Help to Grow: Management Course to put a framework in place that helps us standardise our quality while leaving room for creativity.

“The final takeaway, and a crucial one for us, was internal communications. Before the course, my sister and I would try and do everything. Now we’ve reassessed where we want to be and where are strengths lie so have redefined our roles and learnt to stay in our own lane.”

The Help to Grow: Management Course also includes peer-to-peer group work and one-to-one support from a mentor throughout the programme.

 Claire added: “The groups were a safe space, and I was given the chance to learn different ways of thinking. I also learned that as an agency we don’t need to do it all. We can narrow our focus and do more of the work we love to do.

“I’d strongly recommend to anyone looking to grow their business to apply for the Help to Grow: Management Course. You get to have honest conversations with peers and learn from true experts. As a business, the relationships have also opened up a lot of doors for us. We’ve already spoken at local schools about staying safe on social media, delivered talks to Derbyshire University and the Derbyshire Festival of Business, and have plans to continue educating others across the region.”

MacMartin is now planning to launch a digital declutter campaign later this year to encourage businesses to evaluate and improve the carbon footprint of their digital activities.


Michael Hayman MBE, Chair, Small Business Charter, said: “The Help to Grow: Management Course is an invaluable tool for SME business leaders looking to gain new skills that allow them to grow. From the experts on hand to give advice, to leaders that can enhance productivity, the course helps businesses overcome challenges, make attainable goals and become more resilient.

“I’m delighted to have observed MacMartin’s journey so far and look forward to seeing how the business continues to explore new opportunities in the future.”

Business leaders can find out more about Help to Grow: Management and sign up for the course in their area by visiting:


About Help to Grow: Management:

Help to Grow: Management is a 12-week course designed to support business leaders and their senior managers to increase resilience, innovation and growth within their organisations.

Delivered by Small Business Charter accredited business schools, the course is available in more than 50 locations across the UK and is 90% government funded. It is designed to fit around existing work and personal commitments, providing business leaders with more than 50 hours of online and in person training including 10 hours of one-to-one mentoring. Individuals completing the course automatically join the Alumni Network, where they have access to exclusive events, content and partner offers, as well as the support of a UK-wide peer network.

The Small Business Charter, which oversees Help to Grow: Management, is an award for the UK’s world-class business schools. The Charter was developed by Lord Young, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Chartered Association of Business Schools to celebrate business schools that play an effective role in supporting the UK’s £5.8m SMEs and their local economies by extension.