The Power of Peers
The Power of Peers
One of the most exciting things that we’re doing is building a connected, collaborative community only open to our high growth business clients across the region.
Why do we rate the power of peers so highly? Lots of reasons! Firstly, having been through all the trials, thrills and spills of rapid growth ourselves, and of just building and sustaining a high growth business, we know exactly how lonely, stressful and challenging it can be.
First, a few facts – of the 5.8m small businesses in the UK, 75% are sole traders, 95% don’t grow beyond 9 employees, and even in that latter group, the big majority are less than 5. Government estimates from the beginning of last year show that of the 2.2m VAT and/or PAYE registered businesses, only just over 200,000 grow to 10-49, and another 35,000 in the 50-249 bracket. And if you grow to more than 100 staff, you’re in a select group of the 0.2% of businesses that make it past that milestone. So pretty much a flat line and a pimple. The Cambridge and Peterborough region is no different to anywhere else.
Most people find those statistics staggering. So if you really are a high growth business, where do you go for help? Who can you trust to talk to about a challenge? To be challenged? To get those sparks and lightbulb moments? To get reassurance you’re taking the right approach? Where can you meet someone who might be able to help you turn the dial on your business, because they understand what it’s really like…..? Or give you a validated connection to someone who can? To make an ask and get an answer from someone who’s already been where you are? And to be able to give an answer and a some guidance to someone who’s coming along behind you?
As the adage goes, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.
Many business networks naturally are full of small traders and micro-businesses, because as we’ve just seen, that’s the nature and profile of UK business. But the needs and interests of a 10, 40 or 100 person scaling company are very, very different. There’s little corporate engagement in such networking activities – but corporates are frequently of great interest to scale up companies, particularly around open innovation and supply chains. And whilst we’re great fans of sector networks spanning all sizes of businesses, particularly for engendering technical collaborations and knowledge-sharing, the challenges of growing a business, in and of themselves, span all sectors.
Bringing together senior leaders who share similar positions and experience but work in different sectors, encourages dynamic thinking and provides fresh perspectives on ideas and issues. Learning of the commonalities and differences in the growth journey, particularly around the key tipping points, and being exposed to a wider diversity of thinking, helps businesses better understand their own strengths, the impact of their blind spots, expands their comfort zone and helps drive business growth.
It is the personal experience of running a growth business that makes peer-to-peer support and exchange distinct from the counsel of friends, family and even professional advisors. Peer group members understand the responsibility and pressures of being at the helm of a business in a way that others simply cannot unless they too have done it themselves.
A thriving, value-added, connected ecosystem is a huge asset we recognised nearly two decades ago as a ‘soft’ growth essential, not just to catalyse and accelerate growth, but to help sustain it during periods of economic austerity, major market disruptions and global crises. And we’ve built a few of them in our time, all based on understanding of the members needs and wants and an unrelenting focus on the delivery of value to the participants, both as a whole and to segments.
It’s not a quick and easy task, and the community itself needs to commit, to adopt a pay-forward ethos for the benefit of all, and help drive its success. But the individual, business and economic payback is enormous. Clients have become enduring friends, suppliers, business partners, buyers, collaborators, connectors, trusted advisors, investors and non-execs.
So we’re building a thriving, sustainable community of peers through the donation of voluntary time, and the support of those who understand that if we give a little, we can all gain a lot. If you’re an ambitious, growth business, we hope that you will join us, benefit from all the Growth Works support, and be part of this community.
You can start here and you’ll receive a very warm welcome.