Only 4% of businesses scale beyond 10 employees, and less than 1% beyond 50. Kevin founded BizSmart® to try to change this – initially in the Worcestershire region. 
Through our work, we found that a large majority of successful business owners operating at a micro level (10 employees or less) had a desire to scale but lacked the confidence or the knowledge to do so. There is almost a glass ceiling at around 10 employees and we wanted to help them to break through. 
Our experienced professionals began working with these business owners to aid growth and help them achieve their professional aspirations. In doing so, we were able to outline the steps they needed to grow and scale sustainably. 
What does the Peer Networks initiative offer Worcestershire-based businesses? 
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 businesses by working closely with like-minded peers. 
Following the economic impact of the pandemic, Peer Networks has recruited the assistance of regional business support providers to help business owners surpass current challenges and grow their businesses in 2021. 
We at BizSmart have been awarded five different cohorts in Worcestershire and two cohorts in the neighbouring Marches. Co-ordinated by Worcestershire Business Central and the Marches Growth, the initiative offers up to 80 businesses free help and support. 
Peer networking allows business owners to bounce ideas off one another, as well as keep each other accountable. It is a great way for business owners to motivate each other and learn from their peers’ challenges and experiences. 
How will the initiative help businesses get back on their feet and rebuild in 2021? 
Having delivered our own successful peer-to-peer programs over the last eight years, we have seen first-hand the incredible impact it can have in helping business leaders overcome issues and create a clear and consistent strategy for growth. 
The support and advice available through the Peer Networks initiative will allow business owners to look for ways to rebuild following the setback of the pandemic, through harnessing the power support from their peers. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful some of the questions and insights can be from people with different perspectives and experiences – occasionally leading to fundamental ‘aha’ moments, but consistently to improved thinking and ideas. 
And, it isn’t just about the pandemic. Businesses will always be looking for ways to break through those traditional barriers of scaling up to create sustainable and ultimately valuable companies. The growing acceptance of the power of peer-to-peer learning and the role BizSmart®’s approach can play in helping business owners be the best they can be started before the crisis, and will continue long after. 
Businesses are still being encouraged to apply and it is likely that there will be additional funding following what is essentially a pilot for future programmes. 
Businesses should remember that, whilst we may all be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. Our boats are different, some are sailing well, and others are fighting the wind bouncing through the waves. We need to think and plan our way forward and set our course accordingly to emerge strong after the storm passes. 
The main thing business owners should be focusing on is doing the right thing by their teams, customers, and suppliers, whilst reminding themselves of their business’ core purpose and values. They need to ask themselves if they are struggling to do things the way they used to and, if so, how they can still deliver. 
For businesses to continue to achieve their objectives and rebuild in 2021, they must look at a controlled way of scaling to ensure it is sustainable. It is perhaps a little difficult right now to think long-term, but regardless of whether you are in survive or thrive mode, implementing a robust 90-day planning cycle along with a consistent business ‘rhythm’ will help enormously. If nothing else, it focuses the attention on priorities and actions they can control, rather than on things they cannot – and most stress comes from feeling out of control. 
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