Ambitious businesses in Dorset have a new opportunity to come together and work collaboratively as part of our new Peer Networks Programme.

Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Peer Networks is a national initiative designed to bring small and medium enterprise (SME) business leaders together in facilitated sessions to share experience and expertise.

The Peer Networks programme is administered by Dorset Gateway (Dorset LEP’s growth hub) and is delivered by three delivery partners; Evolve Members, Dorset Chamber – who were both involved in last year’s programme and - Dorset Business Mentors.   

Through the combined efforts of the collaboration in 2020/21 Dorset proved one of the most successful areas in the country. During the past 6 months over 200 of Dorset's business leaders have benefitted from taking part.  

For 2021/22, Dorset LEP secured a further £300,000 to bring the programme to 260 more of the county’s business leaders. 

How it works

Working virtually in cohort groups of 11, sessions are facilitated by experienced business coaches and focus on key areas of business development. Each participant is also supported with dedicated one-to-one support, allowing them further opportunities to digest and discuss aspects of running and growing a business. 

Benefits from completing the Peer Networks Programme include:

  • Overcoming business challenges
  • Recognising and acting on new opportunities
  • Building a trusted network of connections
  • Supporting you now and in the future
  • Improving your long-term personal and business performance

Who is it for?

Peer Networks is designed for business owners, leaders and senior managers who want to grow and develop their organisation for future success. Representatives from businesses that meet the eligibility criteria below are invited to register:

  • Business must be registered in the Dorset Council or BCP areas. 
  • Operated for at least one year. 
  • Between 2 & 250 employees. 
  • An aspiration to improve business output and productivity.

Ideally, these businesses will also demonstrate the ability and ambition to scale-up and/or export - or will be exporting already.

We're especially interested to receive interest from: 

  • a) under-represented groups e.g. women-led, ethnic minority-led. 
  • b) sectors particularly impacted by Covid i.e. retail and hospitality. 

Register your Interest 

The background to Peer Networks

The 2019 Business Productivity Report found that those businesses that adopt formal management practices are more likely to achieve higher turnover, employment levels and productivity growth.

Evidence collected as part of the BPR also found that businesses are most likely to look to trusted peers and professional networks for advice first, often leveraging their networks and existing relationships with intermediaries to signpost and help them to navigate the business support market.