SME owners urged to use peer group expertise to overcome challenges

Richard Jeffery

A new Government-backed drive to help SME growth is aimed at helping small business owners to adapt to the ‘new normal’.

Peer Networks is funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and co-ordinated by The Growth Company, and has been developed as part of the Government’s commitment made in the 2019 Business Productivity Review which aims to close the national productivity gap.

It is being delivered in England locally by the network of Growth Hubs and supported by their respective Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

Kirsti Grayson, director of Go Velo, a Bikeability provider offering cycle training and bike maintenance to children and adults across Lancashire, joined her local Peer Network and is already seeing benefits.

She said: “Already I’ve learnt so much about the issues other people are facing and I’ve gained confidence in knowing that, despite my business being smaller and structured differently to others, I still had experiences I could share to help others improve.

“I came away feeling very supported. It’s really making me focus on my business and motivated me considerably.”

Richard Jeffery, director of Business Growth at The Growth Company, said: “Peer Networks has been designed for business owners, like Kirsti, to join like-minded businesses and work together to share challenges, solutions, expertise and experience to realise opportunities and develop themselves and their businesses.

“We have found that peer-to-peer support is a positive way to build dialogue and relationships within a peer group that can have long-term benefits for business owners enabling them to take the next steps to grow.”

Each Peer Network consists of between eight and 11 owners or managers from the local SME business community.

It is led by a facilitator and will typically meet fortnightly as a group to discuss a series of common business challenges and opportunities.

Individual one-to-one support will also be provided to help to implement and manage change within each individual business.

To find out more about Peer Networks, or to register an interest in joining other business owners like Kirsti, please visit

Peer Networks is financed by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and there is no cost to joining for people who take part.