A diverse group of Staffordshire business people have formed a training partnership to help companies across the Midlands to flourish. 

The Smart Thinking Partnership will host regular seminars and training sessions aimed at developing the skills of business owners and staff using a diverse range of high quality speakers, trainers and business coaches. 

The first event – planned for the Moat House, Festive Park, Stoke-on-Trent on 21 January – will focus on how to win tenders and tackle Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQ). 

The partnership consists of Stuart Walton, a business consultant and President of the Stafford Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tom Duffin, a performance consultant, Oliver Billson, a Stafford entrepreneur, film maker Nathan Williams and Nigel Howle, a Public Relations consultant and journalist. 

The five partners developed the Smart Thinking Partnership after identifying a need for expert training to fit the needs of local businesses while attending business referral meetings in Staffordshire. 

“Generally, people set up a business based on a great idea or a creative skill that they possess,” explained Stuart who runs the Business for Breakfast franchise in Staffordshire. 

“Our research shows that there are an awful lot of people who could develop their businesses if they had access to the right advice and training.” 

The programme will kick off with a half day session on how to win tenders by Jonathan Andrew of Artistic Creations who has secured £30 million for SMEs in three years. 

Jonathan, of Baswich, Stafford, said: “I am delighted to be able to work with the Smart Thinking team. My aim is to provide clear and effective advice to guide business executives through the procurement maze.  Many small and medium sized businesses miss out on contracts, not for a lack of ability but because they have had little or no advice on how to complete the application process correctly.” 

Tom Duffin, a performance consultant and former high ranking West Midlands police officer, said: “The aim is to give exceptional and focused, value for money, training which will help businesses grow and to provide Continuous Professional Development for existing and future business leaders. 

“There is a diverse wealth of expertise within the group and, as with Jonathan, we aim to source other respected business people who will be able to give high value training to our clients.” 

Anyone wishing to book a place on the 21 January course can contact Stuart Walton by telephone on or 07706 161 851 or by email: [email protected].


For further media information contact Nigel Howle on 07762043436. 


Oliver Billson: Oliver owns Craoli, a successful Stafford based company specialising in the development of new franchise businesses.  

Tom Duffin:  A former police Chief Superintendent, Tom established a performance consultancy and training business in 2007 and works with leaders, senior teams and individual professionals.  He lives at Colwich on Cannock Chase. 

Nigel Howle:  Nigel set up PR consultancy Howle Communications iin 2007 following 14 years as a journalist and 10 years in public sector PR. North Staffordshire born Nigel lives in Packmoor, Stoke-on-Trent. 

Stuart Walton:  Following a corporate career in finance, Stuart set up Conspicuous CBM in 2009, to offer advice to Staffordshire businesses,  Stuart, of Milford, near Stafford, is President of the Stafford Chamber of Commerce and Industry and runs four successful Business for Breakfast groups in Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent. 

Nathan Williams:  Nathan set up NK Williams in 2009 after three years of freelance videography work and producing. Nathan, originally from Barnsley but now based at Stone, Staffordshire, produces high quality promotional and marketing videos to help small and medium sized businesses to gain a higher profile.