Kevin Brent, Director of BizSmart explores the subject of The Power of Peer-to-Peer Business Support. As the New Year approached, most of us were keen to forget 2020 and put it behind us. The year brought unprecedented challenges and delivered a significant blow to all aspects of our lives, from our health and livelihoods to our businesses and the economy.
Unfortunately, our collective hope and optimism entering the new year suffered an immediate setback with the announcement of a third lockdown and, although necessary for public health, it has forced business owners to weather yet another economic storm before the year has even really started.
All is not lost, however. Firms can dust themselves off and continue preparing for recovery, but in doing so it is important for business owners to realise they are not alone in the obstacles they face. The power lies in peer-to-peer support and being able to tap into the collective experience of a group of trusted fellow business leaders.
What is peer-to -peer support?
‘Peer-to-peer support’ networks encourage likeminded business leaders to share brilliant ideas, best practice and learn from one another. Often, they bring together senior leaders who share similar job roles but work in different sectors, and this encourages dynamic thinking and provides fresh perspectives on ideas and challenges.
Each session offers group members the chance to ask questions, seek advice, find out about others’ experiences, and share fears, concerns and successes. Members feel safe and able to express themselves in a non-judgemental environment where everyone is there to help one another.
A window for business success
Peer-to-peer support can be likened to a window for business success. Imagine your business is your home, you are looking out of a south facing window and polishing the glass, and you put on some powerful binoculars to improve your view out of the window. However good your view out of that window becomes, you are still missing views out of the other windows in the house. This is what you can achieve by joining a peer-to-peer networking group.
Moving in circles of similar business leaders will bring different perspectives from the other ‘windows’ and ultimately allow you to improve your vision. Even if the people looking out of those windows don’t have perfect vision, they will still see things that you can’t see through your window. It’s not about having experts; it’s about having credible people with different perspectives who can challenge some of our subconscious biases because they see things differently.
You will then be better equipped to make business decisions based on different experiences and knowledge and could dramatically improve your performance for 2021 as a result.
The numbers speak volumes
Peer-to-peer support and its benefits are not new, but they hold more value now, during the pandemic, than probably ever. According to research, peer groups enable businesses to advance growth by two to three times their normal levels, and our own research shows that 90 per cent of business owners asked found peer-to-peer support instrumental during the pandemic last year. When compared with other sources of business support, only eight per cent of business owners said they would seek advice from a close family member or friend, and this demonstrates that nothing quite compares to the value of working with like-minded professionals. It is the personal experience of running a business that makes peer-to-peer support distinct from the counsel of friends and family. Peer group members understand the responsibility and pressures of being at the helm of a business in a way that others simply cannot.
As a small business owner, you aren’t afforded the formal support networks offered by larger employers. You have no manager to turn to, and it is up to you to make vital decisions, but that doesn’t mean you are in it on your own.
Peer-to-peer support could be a lifeline for your business in 2021. Your business peers can be a great source of information, pragmatic advice and mentoring and, by leaning on individuals who have already ‘been there, done that’ and can relate to your situation, you can create valuable returns for your business this year, position yourself for future success and drive longer term business growth.
About the author:
Kevin Brent is director of BizSmart.
An experienced and entrepreneurial business practitioner with a focus on strategy, business development and maximising value, Kevin founded BizSmart in 2012 with the aim of supporting business owners to build value growth in their businesses. He holds an MBA from INSEAD and has built three and exited from two business, and his specialties span business growth, strategy, new business/opportunity development, sustainable value growth, building cohesive teams and leadership development.