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Why Can’t BusinessLink Keep Good Advisers?

The thoughts of Richard Osborne on many subjects over the years.

Why Can’t BusinessLink Keep Good Advisers?

This is a question that has been on my mind for a while, but I’m not alone. It’s also a different question to ask because I know a few people who work for BusinessLink and as an organisation they provide a lot of very valuable services but they fail to follow one of the most fundamental rules they preach. They don’t just stick to what they are good at, they try and do everything!

Have you ever spent time looking through the BusinessLink website? If not, do so, it contains a huge wealth of information and resources that is great for any business of any size. Whether you have questions on employment, some statutory compliance issues, how to raise finance, you name it and if it is related to running a business you’re likely to find some help on their website.

What about grants and other funding options, if you are looking for matched funding for capital expenditure or staff training, BusinessLink should be the first place to look as they usually have their finger on the pulse of what money is being handed out to help business by the Government.
That’s it guys, you should stop there! Do yourselves a favour and stick to what you are good at. Providing practical business support in the workplace is not your strong point because as an organisation you simply do not provide an attractive enough proposition to attract and keep really good business advisors. The problem is that these really good ones are either already running their own successful businesses, or have setup their own consultancy firms providing business advice after either selling their successful business or putting a management structure in to keep a residual income.

This isn’t just my opinion I’m afraid to say, it’s a common perception and it is one that BusinessLink are aware of and have tried many times to resolve without success. A conversation with a senior manager asked me what I would suggest to recruit a better calibre of advisor and I couldn’t answer the question, because I couldn’t think of one good reason why a really successful Entrepreneur would want to become employed by an organisation that is pulled from left to right by changing Government policies and budgets, which has a bad reputation for offering out of date advice, when if the Entrepreneur wanted to become a business advisor they could run their own business doing it themselves and be in control of their own destiny.

@NigelAdams on Twitter was the first one to correctly respond to my own comment asking the question whether retired business people were out of touch with business today, and the answer is no they are not. Many are I’m afraid, because the business environment today is a million miles different from what it was 20 or so years ago. In my own working live I have seen the introduction of e-mail, Internet, mobile phones and now social network marketing. A conversation I had yesterday with a very successful Entrepreneur touched the subject of my own fear of falling out of date with current business trends as I get older, and business starts to move faster than I may be able to keep up with. However, as Nigel implies, its not the age of the person but their ability to keep up with what is happening in the world and adapting with it. After all, my Nan bless her, who is in her eighties, is more than happy to be doing her banking online, sending e-cards, using intant messaging and webcams, and even Facebook!

So where does this leave BusinessLink as an entity, and the hugely discussed topic of should it stay or going being discussed on many forums and heavily on the IoD group on LinkedIn. My opinion is that they should close it down as a separate entity and consolidate it’s offering more directly into the Regional Development Agencies, producing with it many cost savings as well and a more central place offering business advice. As an onsite business advice service it fails dismally because very few, if any at all, energetic, up-to-date and motivated business advisers will want to work for an organisation they have no control over and have their goal posts moved for no logical reason by a disconnect bureaucrat in Whitehall. Retired bank managers are used to this sort of management system and fit in with it nicely, but sadly have no real world experience of running their own businesses.

Here is some related topic’s I’ve found online about this too;

http://www.businesszone.co.uk/blogs/robertcraven/robert-craven039s-business-blog/business-link-should-it-stay-or-should-it-go

http://realbusiness.co.uk/finance_and_banking/the_axe_hangs_over_business_link

http://www.shell-livewire.org/forums/showthread.php?threadid=24450

One Comment

  1. Avatar
    Mar 27, 2010

    Refreshingly frank. I am always puzzed by their emphasis on compliance as a total goal. Entrepreneurs get into business to do a whole variety of things, but compliance is not an objective! At best it is a ‘hygiene factor’ and making compliance into an objective limits and stultifies businesses by imposing inappropriate and bureaucratic processes based on big companies and manual systems, while we work with our own clients on things that work in the real web 2.0, fast paced, entrepreneurial world!