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Fully funded leadership and business development for SME business leaders in the Solent region

By Jo Whittle
14 May 2021


After a successful pilot earlier this year, the Peer Networks Programme is being extended for a further year in the Solent region.

Delivered in partnership with the Solent LEP, Peer Networks is a fully funded peer-to-peer networking programme for SME business leaders that want to grow and develop their organisation for future success.

The programme’s longer-term aims are focused on reducing the UK productivity gap by helping business leaders find practical solutions to strategic and operational challenges. It also forms part of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  “The Peer Networks came at just the right time. The group sessions, coupled with the one-to-ones in between, really helped me to challenge my fixed mindset about certain issues, understand the root cause of an issue, explore options and possible solutions which I have since implemented”. Tracey Shrimpton, director, Sixth Sense MarketingPeer NetworksThrough interactive ‘action learning’, SME business leaders discuss challenges, gain and reflect on valuable feedback and implement practical solutions to overcome them.

Delivered locally, the diverse cohort groups, which each consist of 11 SME owners or leaders, collaboratively work through common issues faced in their business environments.

Each cohort group, led by an experienced Peer Networks facilitator, will typically meet every three weeks to complete 18 hours of support over approximately five months.

Additionally, individual one-to-one support (coaching, mentoring, or advice) is provided to help to implement and manage change.Importantly, the content of the sessions is driven by the participants – to focus on their specific needs, helping them to build and strengthen their business and improve its overall performance. Cohorts are either composed of participants from a range of industry sectors or targeted at specific communities, such as female entrepreneurs.

As Neil Smith, managing director of PayPartners explained: “The Peer Networks Programme is a great way to engage with other businesses in a structured way facilitated by a business professional. I found the sessions very engaging and thought-provoking as well as establishing some great contacts going forward. There is no doubt our business has gained invaluable learnings to implement, and we will be a better company for it.”  “Having just completed the Peer Networks Programme, I can’t recommend it enough. Discussing my challenges with a fantastic group of like-minded business owners assisted in some key decisions for my business." Dean Corney, COO, The Pull Agency   “I found the peer-to-peer support provided by this initiative extremely beneficial. I had never embarked on this type of business or personal development before and the way it was structured, with helping develop your thoughts and reflections, was very powerful.” Fiona Moir, non-clinical director, goPhysioPeer Networks2Peer Networks is open to any SME* business that has:

  • Operated for at least one year
  • An aspiration to improve
  • At least five employees**
  • A turnover of at least £100,000 per annum

* To qualify as an SME, the company should satisfy two or more of the following requirements: not more than 250 employees, not more than £36 million turnover or not more than £18m balance sheet total. (As defined by sections 382 and 465 of the Companies Act 2006).

** A part-time permanent employee should be counted as an employee.  Flexibility is provided for the number of employees in creative industry businesses, which can include associates/freelancers, and you may still be eligible if your turnover and/or number of employees has been impacted by Covid-19.   “I found the programme to be an extremely useful exercise which enabled me to clearly identify my business challenges and helped me to put plans in place to meet these challenges. The one-to-one mentoring I received was key to this process and the energy, enthusiasm and innovativeness of the other participants were both inspiring and infectious and I learnt a great deal from them all.” Jaqui Oldfield, Red Shoot Camping ParkThe programme enables business owners to:

  • Overcome business challenges and recognise and act on new opportunities
  • Build a trusted network of connections to support them now and in the future
  • Improve their long-term personal and business performance
  • Enhance their leadership capabilities, knowledge and confidence
  • Build local connectivity and strength within the SME business community.

The programme is fully funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). There is no cost to eligible SME businesses.

For an informal chat to gain more information or to express interest in joining the programme please email Roxy at [email protected],com or Simon at [email protected] or call us on 01985 844000.

Asesoria Group is a local delivery partner for the Peer Networks Programme working with the Business Growth Hub in Greater Manchester, and in the south with the Solent LEP.