Wednesday, 14 July 2010

What Next After The Business Link?

The Business Link looks to be on its last legs (Private Sector Looks To Step Into Business Link's Shoes [yesterday's FT] and Government Confirms The Business Link's Demise [BusinessZone]).

We have argued for and against the service elsewhere (BL: Should It Stay or Should It Go?, BL, Business Support and Passion, The Truth Is No-one Seems To Care About BL, Doug Richards Rips Into BL). I would argue that there is still a relative lack of interest in the subject. Meanwhile we hear the cries of woe for the current BL staff.

But what about the clients??? What about the small/medium/growing businesses in need of help and assistance?

Another re-organisation of the Business Support Industry puts any programmes/initiatives on hold. And the ones who suffer will be the poor clients.

Leaving aside the huge irony of a Government department trying to sort out entrepreneurship, there will still be a demand for some form of support/assistance for budding and growing businesses.

I will be the first to argue that naive, inexperienced business people need help and assistance of some form - DIY is not an option (What Is The Message?).

Consultants will crop up all over the place to accommodate the nascent need (Consultancy in a Recession). This will be a good thing for the high-performing consultants but it will be bad for potential clients.

People who don't know what they don't know will get lured into buying wonderful promises and 'get rich quick' schemes as unscrupulous entrepreneurs fleece them of their money (Its Free And It Can Help Your Business... Whatever!!!).

As I said before, the consultancy businesses with long track records and impeccable credentials (reputation, testimonials and track record) have nothing to fear.

So what next?
1) All BL services go into freefall - no-one knows what is going on.
2) Several hundred (ex-BL) business advisers could be about to be let loose on the market.
3) New options will appear scrabbling to fill the hole that will be left by the eventual demise of the BL.
4) The Government will create a new centralised solution to local problems. (How does that work?)
5) Something better...

From our point of view we have seen an exponential growth in people signing up for our Business Club - a free, online business club with workbooks, worksheets, videos, thought bubbles, case studies suddenly becomes an incredibly attractive option for the insatiable curiosity of 'growing business' owners. The tagline, "by entrepreneurs; for entrepreneurs" is what people like. Similarly our new website has seen an unprecedented numbers of hits.

The world of established/reputable business support and consultancy is really just a small village. Everyone has seen the change in the last month or so. Everyone is adjusting their offering to reflect how they think they can satisfy market needs.

Maybe the market will solve the problem before the Government has finished its consultation...


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