January is an opportunity for many businesses to reflect on their milestones and outline new goals to achieve over the next twelve months. While internal business analysis is essential, an external business perspective can prove to be invaluable in terms of gaining a new understanding of the business structure, strategy and even challenges.
In this article, Luke Townsend Owner of BizSmart® Birmingham and Solihull delves into the importance of utilising external perspective in the form of peer-to-peer support, and discusses the various benefits of peer-to-peer groups in business, as well as the ways in which to join one.
What is peer-to-peer support?
Peer-to-peer support consists of a group of business leaders, who come together to provide advice and discuss, learn, and share ideas and business strategies. By using a peer-to-peer support system, business leaders are able to candidly talk about their business development and the issues they may be experiencing.
A peer-to-peer group is essential for gaining a diverse range of outside perspectives, through speaking with other like-minded business owners to asking questions, challenging each other and creating solutions. As the group should be a non-judgemental environment where everyone can express themselves and help each other, members can openly share their business fears, concerns and successes.
Many business leaders choose to attend peer-to-peer support groups as not only does it encourage a dynamism to typical business brainstorming, they can also be incredibly useful for providing solutions for current challenges faced within any company.
Benefits of peer-to-peer support
For many businesses, growth and scalability are the main objectives, however, statistics reveal that growth in business can be very difficult to achieve. BizSmart®’s recent research shows that only 4% of UK businesses manage to scale beyond 10 employees and a 7-figure turnover.
Peer-to-peer support can be fundamental for identifying gaps in business strategy and enabling business leaders to overcome challenges to growth.
Additional benefits of joining a peer-to-peer group include:
- Pragmatic advice based on experience: One of the great aspects of peer-to-peer groups is the mix of experiences from being at different stages of the ‘ScaleUp Journey’. Those further along are able to give earlier stage businesses valuable insights into challenges they have already faced, things they may have got right but also things they may have got wrong. . Similarly, younger businesses are able to provide new innovative ideas to older businesses inspiring them to think differently.
- Diversity of insight: Running a business is a unique experience and there is no one perfect strategy for achieving success. The variety of peers in the support group can offer a selection of perspectives on what could work for a business while enabling leaders to seek inspiration from a range of people, all with different ideas. It is all too easy to get stuck in our ways of thinking, which can lead to biases we may not even be aware of. Having our assumptions challenged can help us to make better decisions on a consistent basis.
- Confidence and Inspiration: Seeing successes around the group can inspire us to push further and to achieve more, whilst giving us the confidence derived from having credible input into our decision-making.
- Networking: Peer-to-peer support groups offer a perfect way to network with like-minded individuals. Although the group isn’t about selling, there is still an opportunity to expand your network and build new and mutually beneficial relationships.
BizSmart®’s research reported that 83% of business leaders experienced an increase in business resilience, thanks to the positive impact of peer-to-peer sessions. The research, which surveyed business leaders who participated in BizSmart®’s dedicated ‘Flight Academy’ programme, also highlighted that business owners in this group experienced an average increase of 19% in profits compared to the year before.
The efficacy of peer-to-peer sessions is reinforced by the fact this reported increase in profit was achieved during the challenging economic climate that resulted from the pandemic and national lockdowns, with 100% of business leaders also confirming an increase in confidence, leadership and capacity as a result of attending their ‘Flight Academy’ programme.
Peer-to-peer support can play a crucial role in helping businesses overcome whatever it is that is holding them back, allowing them to utilise the collective experience of a group of trusted fellow business leaders. Peers are a great source of mentoring, and, by participating in groups with those who have already ‘been there, done that’, businesses can position themselves for future success. A peer-to-peer support group should contain credible people with different experiences who can challenge some of our subconscious biases because they view things differently.
Similarly, a union of experienced business leaders joined with younger businesses can help to provide invaluable insight into the running of a business. Overall, these sessions can be a great way to draw inspiration for the new year and add an element of dynamism to any business.
Luke Townsend, Owner of BizSmart® Birmingham and Solihull