It is safe to say that most companies in the UK have faced more challenges than ever before in 2020. However, one hugely positive thing that has come out of this year is the help and encouragement business owners have shown one another. 
 
The pandemic has served to reinforce the importance of peer-to-peer support for entrepreneurs to overcome challenges and keep moving forward and now, with talk of a ‘new normal’ and a light at the end of the tunnel, many are able to turn their attention to growth once again. 
 
In this episode of ScaleUp Radio I am going to outline 5 key benefits of harnessing the power of our peers with the aim of encouraging all of us to think about how we can bring it into our business. 
 
In the UK the department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy has just recently announced a national funded peer Networks programme and we will include details of how you can find out more and sign up in the show notes. 
 
Peer to peer support is not only integral during times of adversity but will be crucial for those looking to resume our growth strategies. 
 
The latest Office for National Statistics [ONS] figures suggest the number of people working exclusively from home during the coronavirus pandemic has risen from 21% to 24%, and this shows no signs of slowing down as more parts of the UK are at risk of being put into local lockdown. 
 
Many business owners are enjoying the benefits of connectivity and remote working, but it can be a lonely calling, and peer-to-peer business support has never been more crucial. 
 
In fact, our own research recently revealed the majority [90%] of business owners found the support of like-minded professionals instrumental during the first COVID-19 lockdown, and 80% believe the majority of UK business leaders would benefit from peer-to-peer support as the country continues to navigate the pandemic. 
 
Here are 5 ways peer groups can help you achieve your business growth goals in 2021. 
 
A new perspective 
 
American journalist, David Finkel, rightly stated that the myth of the ‘lone wolf’ entrepreneur is just that – a myth – and all the top businesspeople have a powerful peer group to help them succeed. 
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Peer to peer support groups offer a platform for business owners to gain new perspectives from likeminded professionals. Sometimes all it takes is the opinion of a third party, someone removed from the day to day of your business, to unlock new ideas and untapped growth opportunities. 
 
Learning from others’ mistakes 
 
Every business owner will inevitably make mistakes, but the great thing about being part of a peer-to-peer group is that you are less likely to make the same mistakes as others. Support groups give you the opportunity to run your ideas and intensions past fellow group members who can share their own experiences, help you manage risks and avoid potential pitfalls. Learning from others’ mistakes will prevent you from wasting unnecessary time and money, enabling you to really focus your energy on driving your business forward. 
 
Reigniting motivation 
 
If you have growth ambitions for your business but lack the motivation to put them into action after a trying year, joining a peer-to-peer support group can give you a much-needed boost. Hearing others speak positively about your goals will likely reignite your enthusiasm and desire to take your company to the next level and, as you watch your peers work hard to achieve and surpass their own objectives, you will feel driven to catch up and reach your own potential, too. 
 
Accountability 
 
As a business owner you are really only accountable to yourself and, whilst you probably have a multitude of impressive growth plans, you may not have the accountability to tick off your goals week by week in order to realise your ambitions. Knowing that you will be meeting the same group of individuals on a regular basis who will be eager to hear about your actions and achievements since your last meeting will help you maintain your focus and make you more likely to accomplish your goals. 
 
Building new connections 
 
Peer-to-peer groups are not to be confused with networking groups. They are all about sharing ideas and experiences and providing other business owners with support. However, naturally, by connecting with other professionals and sharing insight into your business and what you do, you will expand your network, and you may see new opportunities and prospects come your way as a result. 
 
Created by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, ‘Peer Networks’ is a Government led support initiative that encourages UK business leaders to invest in the growth and development of their business by working closely with like-minded peers. 
 
Following the economic impact of COVID-19, Peer Networks has recruited the assistance of regional business support providers to help business owners surpass current challenges and grow their business in 2021. As a result, BizSmart® has been awarded four five different cohorts in Worcestershire and two cohorts in the neighbouring Marches, which will provide the opportunity for up to 50 80 businesses to benefit from the free initiative. 
 
Taking place between January – March 2021, each business owner accepted onto the peer-to-peer cohort will benefit from 18 hours of facilitated group support, together with a minimum of 3.5 hours of one-to-one support. 
 
Backing and advice from others have always been important in helping business leaders feel less isolated as they work hard to achieve their ambitions. However, arguably, peer-to-peer support is more important now than ever in encouraging entrepreneurs to accelerate growth. By sharing ideas and challenges and learning from others’ successes and disappointments, you will be well equipped to scale up and advance your business growth for the long term. 
 
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