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View Poll Results: Will you miss Business Link when it's gone (in its current format)?
Yes, Business Link is a great organisation and has been a big help to me 16 55.17%
No, I won't really miss Business Link if they go 9 31.03%
Dunno, I'm not bothered either way 4 13.79%
Voters: 29. You may not vote on this poll

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Nubian Knightz Productions Nubian Knightz Productions is offline
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@ Paul

A bumpy one but nonetheless yes the right track now

@ Richard

Tell me about it it was very disapointing and you are right i think it does have a lot to do with the individual mentor.
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johnathanB johnathanB is offline
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I also live in Scotland (Ayrshire) and Business Gateway appears to be not very highly regarded with the people I associate with. I am a voluntary mentor and occasionally I meet other similar individuals in the group. Last week one mentor told me that he had approached Business Gateway trying to partner with them. He told me they refused because they considered him "competitive" as he offered business advice also. - This is crazy

As for the SNP being focused on Enterprise? I'm not sure. I wrote some of my experiences in a letter to Alex Salmond, not moaning but positively suggesting a greater volentary involvement of the private sector in business startups. He did not even reply to me. 29% of the population of Scotland works in the public sector, they are more bothered about that 29% as that's where they get votes. This will be a bigger driver as to whether they close business gateway.

The whole problem here is that you have Civil Servants (totally risk averse) advising young business owners who are taking massive personal risks. What ever government agency promotes startups is never going to get over this. I personally believe the best way forward is that Business Link stick to providing start up business 'training' and 'no-brainer advice', then experienced business owners like some of us here need to stand up to the plate and mentor these business for the first couple of years.

My experience of all of these gov organisations is that they measure 'bums-on-seats' as success instead of focusing enough on long term viability of startups. 20 people at a seminar = funding for next year = success.

Most of the businesses I mentor have been through the system, yet can't and don't do cash flows and generally have no idea or understanding of their profits. Any wonder there is a 75% failure rate after two years?

Incidentally, the tories plan to shut Business Link offices, but keep the online content!

The solution is not to wait for a solution from any Government!


J.
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I started my business from scratch and sold it 13 years later to a PLC.
I now mentor businesses and help them make more profits via my website which is full of free small business advice . This site reveals my strategies and shows you how to make more profits in your business.
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James Smith's Avatar James Smith James Smith is offline
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I think the business link website is fantastic.

I know Richard meant it as a slight, but as a "ringbinder" of useful information it is a very good source. I hope its kept up to date.

As for the local Business links themselves. Some are good, some are lousy. Experiences seem to vary widely, i'm not convinced they are very efficient use of public money. I would rather see it spent directly on training courses and mentoring rather than all the duplicated services they seem to provide. In particular the world has moved on from needing to give people "ringbinders" of information which seems to be the mainstay of their work.

Standing data is freely available. Understanding and applying it is another matter....
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James Smith's Avatar James Smith James Smith is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnathanB View Post

The whole problem here is that you have Civil Servants (totally risk averse) advising young business owners who are taking massive personal risks.

The solution is not to wait for a solution from any Government!


.
What he said!
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markocosic markocosic is offline
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The website http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/ is golden.

What's the point in the regional variants/offices though? If you can't read the website (and source help from the relevant experts as a result of what you've read - HMRC being particularly helpful) then you're probably better served as an employee.

Axing them to save 190 million quid a year whilst maintaining that single central website would be fine by me. Don't give the money to the Local Authorities or the RDAs though - unless you want the authority to spend 5k preparing a grant/loan scheme, the applicant 5k preparing a submission for it, the authority 5 k reviewing the submission, and then finally dishing out 6k 6 months after it was needed.

What to do with the 190 m quid? Not sure, but make it require minimal civil servants and minimal wasted prepratory time on the part of business. Perhaps dish out (first come first serve) 180,000 lots of 1k, with negligible questions asked (so that the overhead is low), available for any registered voter that's starting a business. (not necessarily for the first time, just so long as they're not currently self-employed/running a limited company) Make just a couple of simple conditions that cost little to the public purse to check - say that a bank needs to approve you for a loan of at least 500 quid against some sort of a business plan and that you were a registered voter. (you wouldn't be obliged to take the bank loan, only prove that you were accepted - same as the people who write "accepted by Oxford/Harvard..." ...but too busy/poor to actually bother going - on their CV to show much the same thing as actually getting the degree)

You can then use that 1k as cash, or as a part (but not all, to prevent moral hazard) of a loan guarantee, whatever. If you were to blow it all its not like the public aren't going to recover most of it anyway...

Quote:
the world has moved on from needing to give people "ringbinders" of information which seems to be the mainstay of their work.

Standing data is freely available. Understanding and applying it is another matter....
Electronic ringbinders are dirt cheap though, the old 80/20 rule? I'd say that the standing data is not freely available - not available enough anyhow. Cheaper to drop 10 million quid on businesslink centrally to collate just the relevant bits than it is to have people spend hours and hours trawling for it.

Professional mentors to help/train you on the bits you can't just do yourself will provide the rest of the service of their own free will. Finance that on their time rather than taxpayer coin and you'll get the skilled mentors/professional service providers doing it as an investment rather than the lousy ones filling bums on seats to get the grants.
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aa412's Avatar aa412 aa412 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnathanB View Post
The whole problem here is that you have Civil Servants (totally risk averse) advising young business owners who are taking massive personal risks. What ever government agency promotes startups is never going to get over this. I personally believe the best way forward is that Business Link stick to providing start up business 'training' and 'no-brainer advice', then experienced business owners like some of us here need to stand up to the plate and mentor these business for the first couple of years.
Everyone is acting like all the people who ask Business Link for advice are stupid. At the end of the day we don't go there for them to run our company for us. We go there for them often be a sounding board and get generic advice that is suited to most businesses. Business Link can point you in the direction of more specialist advice if they know of people in your industry. I agree that side of it is not 100% right now and is definitely an area for expansion. But really I'd rather have them there doing a 7/10 job than nothing at all.
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TurboLemonMedia's Avatar TurboLemonMedia TurboLemonMedia is offline
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Kneejerk reaction to that news: they'd be stupid to get rid of it. The site, the content, the support and the resource are to valuable to get rid of. BusinessLink have come a long way. I used them years ago and they were rubbish. I used them recently and they were amazing. Though that's not the most convincing argument, it's honest.
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VDO VDO is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard.curran View Post
That's a fairly inspirational post, I also have a business degree and I have found the Prince's Trust to be incredibly useful so if you rate the Business Link website higher than P.Trust then I'll go and investigate what you've said about these seminars. The help the Prince's Trust can give should not be dismissed - they linked me up with a very good business mentor and helped with networking, free sessions with lawyers/accountants and they also help with funding, but they've reduced that now from what was £1000 a year ago to £500.

The business link website, appears, to serve only as a resource for people who are prepared to go digging for the information. It is not the sort of thing that makes use of the technology available to us in the 21st century. As it happens it reminds me of a big ring binder that my careers office has.

On the homepage the b-link introduces itself like this "Business Link is a free business advice and support service".

Where is the support service and the advice? Its a much more like a ring binder full of info. If you went to the job centre for "advice" on getting a job and they said nothing to you but pointed at those machines where jobs are advertised you couldn't call that "advice", seems like the same deal on the Business Link website. Not so much advice but information, plain and simple.

Anyway, I am being a little critical of the site whilst I don't mean to be. It is a great website in terms of the content. Its just lacking any decent marketing or a focus or purpose which takes some of the pressure off the individual who goes to the site without a specific purpose in mind. For instance, you want to know about how Rates are worked out on commercial properties, its great. On the other hand if you feel, like many people who use these forums, that you would like to start a business but don't know how - the website just looks like a mountain of hard work.
You have a degree but the Princes Trust helped you? What region/area do you live in? I called them, filled in the online application and they said they couldn't help me and referred me to one or two useless places. hmmm
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VDO VDO is offline
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I think if anything the Tories need to work on providing more support to people who want to start businesses, especially unemployed/ low income and young people. I'm not sure if getting rid of BusinessLink will do any good, especially as it will mean that councils will use their discretion to decide how much money they should spend on local businesses, that could result in there being basically no support for aspiring entrepeneurs in certain areas of the country.
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CathiParasols CathiParasols is offline
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I would be very sorry to see Business Link go. I too feel that without their support I would never have got my business up and running. I had fantastic support from their advisers, they helped me with funding, I went to free seminars/training courses to give me an insight into everything from the accounting side of my business to the marketing. They have always been extremely prompt and I am currently speaking to them regarding my second venture.

I got no joy from the Prince's Trust. Absolutely no help whatsoever. I guess that's the main difference - Business Link is there for everyone, from every background. Their website isn't the prettiest looking (!) but it is extremely useful and has in depth info on just about every topic you need when starting/running your own business.

I am in the North East which may explain my different experience to that received by others. But it would really be a shame to see them scrapped.
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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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The Prince's Trust - changes it's focus

Cathi, apparently The Prince's Trust have stepped back a bit from the business startup side of things.

In the Charles Dunstone (Carphone Warehouse) article I was reading this morning, as Chairman of the organisation he said that

"Now, if someone wants to start a business The Prince's Trust puts them on a 4 day course where they learn about business and bookkeeping and at the end of that, they conclude that some are not suited to doing it, and help them find training for another job, help them get direction."

This may explain why you didn't get much help from The Prince's Trust. Perhaps they have decided that there are other organisations like Business Link (or even Shell LiveWIRE) that are better equipped to deal with business start ups - focusing more instead on helping disadvantaged youngsters into employment (with other businesses / organisations).
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ALT's Avatar ALT ALT is offline
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This is a really interesting thread. I work for Shell LiveWIRE and I am involved with the first sift of the Grand Ideas Awards each month. One of the questions that people are asked on the application form is, 'Have you worked with an Adviser to help you develop the business? If yes, please give the name of the adviser and organisation' Every month I am really amazed at the number of people who state they have never had any imput with a business adviser. The services offered by Business Link / Business Gateway are mostly free so technically shouldn't be any barriers preventing people getting start up advice. Why do you think so many young entrepreneurs aren't choosing to get any start up advice?
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MarcDerby MarcDerby is offline
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That is the truth about the princes trust, if you have worked hard, kept yourself out of trouble and want to get help from them then you don't seem to qualify. If you did not bother at school much, not got a job or got caught pinching a few things then they will help you. it has never seemed fair to me.
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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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Quote:
That is the truth about the princes trust, if you have worked hard, kept yourself out of trouble and want to get help from them then you don't seem to qualify. If you did not bother at school much, not got a job or got caught pinching a few things then they will help you. it has never seemed fair to me.
Yeah, but The Prince's Trust is very clear on what they are all about. They can't help everyone. Their sole purpose is to help 'disadvantaged people' so surely you wouldn't want to be in this category just for the sake of a bit of business advice or funding?
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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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Business Link To Be Scrapped by 2012

A Government White Paper has announced that the regional elements of advisory service Business Link will be no more after April 2012.

Full story and link to the White Paper at:
http://www.shell-livewire.org/news/businesslink-to-go/
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