The Peer Network Programme is a Government-funded initiative managed by the IBD business advice group on behalf of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub.
It gives small to medium-sized companies the chance to develop and improve their businesses through one-to-one sessions with industry experts as well as tapping into the experience of their peers.
Maddison Smith, programme manager at the BCLEP Growth Hub, said that it was a unique opportunity for business owners to benefit their individual businesses as well as support economic growth for the whole of the Black Country.
“The Peer Network Programme allows like-minded business owners to pool their expertise for the benefit of their own companies. But that collaboration also builds strength into the Black Country economy as a whole. We want to bring businesses together to not just survive, but thrive."
Chris Gough of the IBD Group explained that the peer networks helped business leaders build lasting relationships and create new opportunities within their companies as well as finding solutions to common problems.
“As we move forward post-pandemic there’s never been a more important time to invest in the future by working with people who know business best – other business leaders,” he said.
Those joining the network were not placed in a group with any direct or indirect competitors to make it easier for members to freely share their expertise.
The latest event from the Peer Network Programme is a free webinar, Rebuilding Together, on Tuesday, October 19 from 11am focusing on recovering and rebuilding after the pandemic. The question and answer session will feature Karen Woolley, development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses West Midlands as well as Maddison Smith.
Those taking part will be able to book a one-to-one session with a specialist on a topic of their choice at a date to be organised after the event.
The Peer Network Programme had already helped members gather extra insight and expertise on marketing, personnel issues, financial planning, increasing distribution and manufacturing and pandemic recovery strategies.
“The programme is fully funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy meaning there is no cost to the business other than a few hours of time each month,” said Maddison Smith.
Networking takes place virtually once a fortnight over nine months in structured, small-group sessions, led by professional facilitators. Each member of the network also gets separate one-to-one mentoring sessions from trained professionals.
To be eligible to join businesses must have been trading for over one year, have had at least five employees before the pandemic and have a turnover of at least £100,000 in one of the last three years.
Further information on the Peer Networks Programme and the webinar on October 19 is available atbcgrowthhub.com/peer-to-peer, by contacting the Black Country LEP Growth Hub business support team at 0333 070 5805 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration for the free webinar is available eventbrite.co.uk/e/rebuilding-together-qa-featuring-bcgh-fsb-11-included-tickets-168398615793