Published: September 30, 2020 | Updated: September 30, 2020

Free support for SME leaders as three partners chosen to deliver new Peer Networks sessions

By Andrew Diprose, editor

A national peer-to-peer networking programme for SME leaders looking to grow and develop their businesses is coming to Dorset.

The government-funded Peer Networks is in response to the 2019 Business Productivity Review.

It is also aimed at helping businesses recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is to run the programme locally through its business growth hub, Dorset Gateway.

It has appointed three experienced partners to deliver the programme in Dorset: Dorset Chamber, Evolve and Circle Leadership.

Although the UK has some of the most productive businesses in the world, there is a longstanding challenge with labour productivity.

On average it is 13 per cent lower than in the rest of the G7 countries, such as Germany, the US and Japan.

The 2019 Business Productivity Review highlights peer networks as a key element in driving growth.

They are also regarded as integral in gaining trusted advice, helping businesses navigate the business change cycle, and, through structured conversations, focus on specific issues.

The Peer Networks programme will run a series of sessions with small networking groups of owners or managers from Dorset’s SME community that:

  • Have been operating for more than a year.
  • Employ at least five people.
  • Have a turnover of at least £100,000
  • Aspire to improve.

Funding has been secured to support 120 participants, with fortnightly two to three hour long sessions.

Starting in October, it’s expected that all participants will benefit from a total of 18 hours of action learning by March 2021.

The sessions will be virtual and led by an experienced facilitator.

They are free to participating businesses or individuals.

Benefits from completing a peer networks programme include:

  • Overcoming business challenges.
  • Recognising and acting on new opportunities
  • Building a trusted network of connections.
  • On-going business support networks.
  • Improvements to long-term personal and business performance.

Finn Morgan, Business Engagement & Dorset Gateway Manager at Dorset LEP, pictured left, said: “Through a rigorous process, we have selected our delivery partners based on their experience in running similar programmes.

“They have demonstrated that they have the reach and the teams behind them to ensure that those who join the programme will get the most out of this type of support and really make a difference to Dorset’s SME community and economic growth.

“We are keen to get these sessions started and engage with business leaders from a range of sectors across the region.”

Evolve, the Poole-based membership community for entrepreneurs and business leaders, has been awarded three groups.

Warren Munson, Evolve Founder, pictured right, said: “Peer groups lie at the core of what Evolve is about.

“They’re a fantastic way to support businesses and the individuals who run them.

“Evolve has already had great success with its own peer groups, and I’m really pleased and excited to be part of the Dorset LEP’s Peer Network programme.

“It’s come at a really crucial time and I’m both delighted and committed to playing a role in the support and growth of local business.”

To find out more about Dorset LEP’s Peer Network Programme click here to complete a short expression of interest form.

Alternatively to be part of a peer group, and the programme, contact Evolve at or phone 0333 322 2332.