Peer Networks return for 2021/22 – how can your business join?

Peer Networks will be available through Burgis & Bullock for 66 business in 2021/22 after a hugely successful first programme of networks in 2020/21.

Sean Farnell, Partner at Burgis & Bullock and Peer Networks Facilitator, talks through who can join and why businesses should it this blog.

Burgis and Bullock delivered the Peer Networks initiative through the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP Growth Hub – with cohorts including Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering, Digital & Creative Industries and Culture & Tourism.

What are Peer Networks?

Peer Networks is a national programme funded through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and is being delivered in the region by the CWLEP Growth Hub.

It is for SME leaders and brings together business owners and senior managers to discuss and work through issues within their business.

The idea is to use action learning sets, where a facilitator hosts a cohort of senior managers and business owners and gets them to work together to find their own solutions, as well as being challenging and supportive across 18 hours of fully-funded support.

Our Peer Network groups create a diverse collection of individuals to combat common business issues, guided by expert facilities to support the creation of a strong, trusted support network.

We have already signed up 22 businesses for the upcoming cohort and we plan to start all six cohorts before Christmas!

Who can join?

There are a number of key criteria that have to be met for businesses to join our Peer Networks.

The business must have been operating for at least a year, must have a turnover of at least £100,000, have five employees or more and have an aspiration to improve.

At Burgis & Bullock we are specifically interested in hearing from businesses in the Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering, Digital & Creative Industries, and Culture & Tourism sectors.

Businesses will also need to have a registered CV postcode. We are also looking for businesses that have the potential to scale up, and other desirable criteria would be a business with the ability or potential to export.

We will need a nominated senior manager to commit the necessary time to fully engage in 18 hours of Peer Networks support and then three-and-a-half hours of bespoke one-to-one support.

It’s vital to take time working ON the business rather than IN the business.

To take the opportunity of looking down on your business (as if from a helicopter) and seeing everything that’s going on – giving you the space to think about the business strategically rather than being dragged in to day-to-day activities.

Remember this is all fully-funded through the CWLEP Growth Hub so is free of charge!

What are the benefits of Peer Networks?

In the modern fast-paced business environment it’s important to find a window to take time out of your business and assess the challenges it is facing.

Our last cohort of businesses were able to find solutions and problems in one session that may have taken weeks or months for the business to otherwise solve.

With a trusted business network of people around you, you immediately improve the long-term potential of your business and also give a boost to your current day-to-day operations.

Some businesses may think committing to 18 hours is too much and they could spend that time more valuably – but as soon as people join the groups they see the benefits of this time and soon realise that this is a valuable way to spend it.

Members in our previous groups were reinvigorated after each session and emerged with a new plan on how to improve their business and really drive it forwards.

Peer Networks effectively give you your own non-executive board to support the growth of your business.

There is nothing new in this world and regardless of the size of your business you will experience similar challenges to your peers.

Having other business owners tell members what they had done and how they had approached it enabled them to have the confidence to go ahead with their own plans.

Our first groups were held in the middle of the pandemic and provided an invaluable support network in a time we were all working from home. 

These new cohorts will be equally important to guide businesses through the turbulent coming months as the economy rebuilds.

Don’t take our word for it, read some of the feedback from the 2020/21 cohort members:

Paul Bromfield, ABP Drone Solutions: “The Peer Network has clicked for me amazingly and now I’ve had a really strong, business changing referral, as a result of the networking side.

“It’s been interesting to deal with people from a range of different industries and levels. We’re only a small SME but that didn’t matter, we could all talk on the same wavelength, bounce ideas around and relate business experiences to each other.

“In the past I’ve been sceptical about these kinds of groups, but this has been the opposite and we’ve achieved so much.”

Kathy Moores, Fosse Data Solutions: “I felt the key benefit of the group sessions was the exchange of ideas with other businesses from diverse areas of the economy.

“I had three one-to-one sessions and that helped me to view my business in a different way. I expressed an interest in social media and digital training off the back of that and, following an introduction, we are now completing the training.”

Andy Ibbitson, Management Consultant: “Initially I did not expect a great deal from the Peer Networks, but it proved a useful forum to listen and understand how people are navigating through business issues.

“It has been a great opportunity to connect, share and encourage fellow business owners. I have found that the insights from a diverse cohort have been invaluable. These have ranged from social media use for marketing, client buying behaviours and how businesses can pivot in times of crisis.”

Marc Stewart, Coventry Trophy Centre: “Through the groups I have made some good contacts and gained some great feedback through the one-to-ones. I’ve recently delivered one of our new planters to a group member who is going to help me get the product in front of the right people.

“It was quite relaxed and the sessions were full of discussion to help people solve issues. For me, I got some great advice on how to prioritise certain work when you have a number of projects on-going.”

For more information about Peer Networks with Burgis & Bullock visit

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