Last chance for Greater Manchester businesses to sign up and harness the power of peer networking and get your business ready for 2021

4th February 2021, 12:50 pm

It is widely accepted that support from peer groups is often the first port of call for business owners facing similar challenges.

As GM and national businesses navigate the ongoing pandemic including a third national lockdown and deal with issues arising from exiting the EU, they can find help and no-nonsense support and advice from their peers.

In 2021 peer support can create a feeling of community no matter what industry or sector you are in, but it also helps business owners realise that they are not alone in the obstacles they face on a day-to-day basis.

With the help of like-minded GM based peers, they can gain valuable insights leading to day-to-day solutions to help grow their business.

Which is why Peer Networks is working with SME business owners across GM and England to help place them in a stronger position for future growth.

Over 300 GM business leaders are already on the programme and positively benefiting from Peer Networks. Based on demand, a final additional two groups have been added in GM, with a deadline date to submit an online enquiry of 05.02.21.

This is what GM business owners have to say about Peer Networks:

Jamie Watson is Managing Partner at Manchester based integrated marketing agency Pixel8 and has already attended a number of Peer Networks sessions.

He said: “I’m a member of other networking groups and I’ve done lots of networking, and often it is not a good experience, as it can be very pressured and sales focussed. Peer Networks is completely different to a traditional networking group or programme, and is much more valuable and effective for professional and personal self-help by helping others in close working groups.

“As a business leader you often think that everyone’s’ problems are different, although as you start to engage with others you realise there are allot of common themes and topics, and by helping others with these you help yourself address your own and get through them.

“Peer Networks is not a standard ‘networking’ programme, and doesn’t feel like it, it creates a safe environment that enables individual business leaders and managers to work together with the group to solve shared problems, issues and address opportunities, and all of the outputs are positive.

“Another positive I have found with my group is the diversity of the businesses, at first when you have another people in your group that are so different and diverse you question the relevance, although having this diversity and range of sectors and individuals is incredibly insightful. Peer Networks has also acted as a personal and professional morale booster, and a release valve to share issues and problems and listen to others, particularly with the current climate, after every session I came off calls feeling like I’m not alone.

“If any Greater Manchester SME business leaders are considering Peer Networks my advice would be to get on the programme, go in with an open mind, you have nothing to lose, it is a good use of time and can only help your current situation and business, no matter what, it has something for everyone.”

What are the experts saying about Peer Networks?

Isla Wilson is a director at Ruby Star Associates and a Peer Networks facilitator for Greater Manchester.

She said: “There is real value in sharing experiences with others and drawing out learning which each member can apply to themselves and their business and see tangible benefits.

“Whilst some participants entered Peer Networks to explore a specific challenge, they have also gained insights and support on a wider range of topics for their business and, critically, at a personal level too.

“They have also found that Peer Networks’ Action Learning method is different to other programmes. Our group agreed some ground rules, which included ‘no selling’ – this, combined with the agreed confidentiality, has enabled the participants to open up and have the space to raise and discuss a range of topics which they may not be able to raise in other groups.“

Richard Jeffery, Director of Business Growth at The Growth Company, said: “The importance of partnership and collaboration with your peers is immeasurable.

“By working together, businesses can learn from each other, they can pull together through challenges such as coping during lockdown, keeping jobs safe, or growing a business in a new market. By opening up to other business owners, they don’t only get one solution to a problem, but several.

“As firms seek to ‘build back better’ we are here to help them by joining business owners up with like-minded peers so they can get the most out of Peer Networks.”

What is the evidence that points to peer support?

Peer Networks has been developed based on evidence shown that business owners often prefer to take advice from other businesses.

The 2019 Business Productivity Review found that those businesses that adopt formal management practices, including through learning from other businesses, are more likely to achieve higher turnover, employment levels and productivity growth.

There is also a broad base of evidence that suggests that businesses that seek external advice or undertake formal training are more likely to improve their overall business performance.

In addition, there is robust evidence that demonstrates the importance of business owners learning from peers, particularly in their local area.

Peer Networks are integral for trusted advice. They help businesses navigate multiple stages in the business change cycle, can be called on by businesses time and again, and through structured conversations they can be focused to support the specific issues faced by business owners.

What has the research into peer support led to?

Building on these findings, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has committed to strengthen local peer-to-peer networks.

Across Greater Manchester and up and down the country SME business owners are now coming together in small groups to learn from each other on important challenges and opportunities such as EU transition, recovering from the impacts of Covid-19, HR, tech, finance and marketing.

Describing his experience, one business owner on the Peer Networks programme said: “It’s like having my own group of extra non-executive directors so those with actual direct knowledge that can make valuable comments on my business which I have found invaluable.”

How can businesses take part?

There has never been a more important time to prepare your business for the future and this is the last chance to sign up to this hugely popular programme.

Registration for Peer Networks takes just three minutes, and you can find out more today by visiting Sign up before the GM extended closing date for registrations of 05.02.21. Peer Networks will run until 31 March 2021.

Peer Networks is financed by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

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