I went to a New Anglia LEP conference yesterday - and it got me thinking.
One of the speakers referred to the demise of Business Link and EEDA, describing it as the "crumbling of support" for local businesses.
There is much difference of opinion as to how useful these agencies actually were -they seem to have had a marmite effect!
I have heard people speak evangellically about Business Link, yet my only experience of them was that when I set up as a new business and contacted them, no one got back to me until I met someone at an event 3 years later, by which time I had found out much of what I needed by attending networking events, seminars, online research and reading business books.
Later, in the height of the recession, when we approached them to see if they could provide support for an exhibition that we were organising, we were told "we have no money, and you won't be successful anyway".
We, along with our two business partners, each put in £50 of our own money - and three years later, we are now organising our 5th exhbition!
We do not run these exhibitions to make a huge amount of money. We keep the costs low so as to make them affordable for local businesses.
They involve a lot of hard work and stress. So, what's in it for us?
We get the publicity, we get to exhibit, we get to help other local businesses and we get a feeling of pride in having achieved something against the odds, and with no external/ public funding.
So, for those who are concerned about the crumbling of the support agencies, I would say that there are resources out there for people who are brave enough to have a go.
It would have been fantastic to have somewhere to go as a new business to get that support, but even when it was supposedly there, I never received it.
New Anglia LEP, however, have developed an information portal which looks as if it will be a really valuable resource.
This portal will allow people to search for information on local business advice and support. The search results will bring up information of specific relevance to that user, based on geography, size and type of business and various other factors.
There will also be the opportunity to receive tailored e-mails whenever new information is added that is relevant to you.
Now this sounds like something useful and I look forward to seeing it in action.
In the meantime, come along to our exhibition on 26th April at Carrow Road - our fifth one!
Mingle with local businesses, and hear a great speaker - the UK Sales Mentor - all for free. (Stand spaces cost £250)