A Telford businessman says a peer networking programme supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership has been a huge success – and given him new insight into his business.
John McGregor, of Telford-based M3 Consulting, said the fully funded Peer Network scheme had allowed him to ‘step back and consider the business in a new light’.
The networks bring together businesses to share knowledge and experience, help each other tackle common challenges and also take advantage of potential opportunities.
Three separate virtual programmes have been run across the Marches LEP area, offering 18 hours of group interaction and 3.5 hours of one-to-one support with a business expert who also facilitates the sessions.
John, whose company works on project and programme management with Government and ‘big pharma’ companies, said the sessions had proved enormously useful.
“Our business is actually independent of geography – our key customers are currently in other parts of the UK and we can deliver anywhere, more or less. Peer Networks felt like a great opportunity to connect with businesses more locally, and was also something that, in 2020, with lockdown, was a chance to break out and meet new people and engage with them.
“I was apprehensive at first, and unconvinced that I would have anything in common with other local businesses, let alone have anything of value to offer them from my own experiences.
“But I was swiftly disabused of this from the first session when I encountered not only businesses like my own, but a lot of the same problems and issues – and it felt really good to be able to swap experiences and offer each other advice.
“The programme has provided a chance to step outside of the day-to-day running of M3 and consider the organisation as a business – what it needs, where it’s going, how my own personal plans and the company’s need to complement each other.
“Looking at my business like this was actually something that was long overdue but possibly something I may not have started to work on properly without Peer Networks. In addition, the networking opportunities and advice and input from my colleagues in the group have been absolutely invaluable.”
John’s programme was overseen by business consultants Kevin Brent and Louise Blunt of BizSmart. Kevin said the whole group had worked together to get the most out of the sessions.
“It has been wonderful to see the way the group members have come together to share their experiences, discuss the challenges they each face and find solutions they can all use.
“There is no doubt in my mind that strong business relationships have been formed in the past two months which will last for years and help each of the companies involved on to further success. They have really bonded as a group and been able to share and work on meaningful issues and challenges about each other’s businesses.”
The programme was funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with the Marches LEP appointing the delivery partners.