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New Peer Network programme to help Marches businesses help each other
06 Aug 2021
by Cathy Block

Caption: John McGregor of M3 Consulting

A highly-successful programme which brings business leaders together to share their knowledge and help each other’s companies grow is returning to the Marches.

The Peer Network Programme – which is fully funded by the Government and supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and Marches Growth Hub – earned widespread praise when it was first run earlier this year.

Now the programme – which brings together business owners and leaders in groups of 11 to help them learn from each other as well as specialist business advisers – is returning in September and businesses are being urged to book their places now to ensure they do not miss out.

A series of weekly Zoom sessions is being held every Thursday to give businesses a chance to find out more about how the programme works and the benefits it can bring.

Executive coach Leon Mundey, of Neale Lewis Associates, which is delivering the programme across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, said it would provide business owners and leaders with the perfect opportunity to learn from each other. 
“We are running three separate cohorts which will bring together businesses to tackle common challenges and take advantage of potential opportunities and create the perfect environment for those taking part to assess how they might grow.
“The programme is again being run on a virtual basis which means there is no wasted travel time and we can include businesses from every corner of the region. Groups will cover all sizes and sectors, though there is a requirement that any business should have at least five employees and a £100,000 turnover.

“The feedback from the first programme was absolutely fantastic, with widespread agreement that the networks added real value for those taking part. It is an opportunity to really work on your business and take a bit of time to reflect on your ambitions for it.”

As well as the programme of group sessions, each business will also receive two one-to-one sessions with their group leader.

“The idea of the one-to-ones is that everything said is entirely between you and your advisor, and it gives an opportunity to raise issues which you might not wanted to have shared with the whole group.

“This is a chance to tap into the expertise of the professional coaches, all of whom will have years of experience and knowledge to bring to the discussions.”

Leon said the Zoom sessions were taking place between 8.30 am and 9 am each Thursday and could be accessed here.

For more information about the programme visit the website.

Case study: 

Telford businessman John McGregor took part in the first Peer Network programme – and says it was ‘enormously useful’.

John, of M3 Consulting, said the scheme had allowed him to ‘step back and consider the business in a new light’.

John, whose company works on project and programme management with Government and ‘big pharma’ companies, said: “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.”