Friday, 17 October 2008

BUSINESS NEWS: New team of advisers to guide local firms through tough times

MEET the new team of full-time business advisers from Business Link (pictured, left), who are now covering West Somerset and the surrounding areas.
They are joining forces with Business Link’s existing online advisory and start-up services to provide fully-rounded support for local businesses.
Penny Bond, Al Brooking, Nicola Evans, Roger Bacon, and Peter Oldham are the new ‘local face’ of Business Link, meeting owners and managers of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them with all the challenges they face.
Adam Chambers, who heads up the Business Link service across Somerset, said: “These are very experienced and successful business people, who now want others to benefit from all the lessons they have learned the hard way.
“Amazingly, their help is available at no cost whatever to you or your business.
“We think it is a fabulous opportunity for anybody who is serious about business improvement.
“First, your adviser will work closely with you to understand your business.
“Then, they will help you develop an effective action plan to improve it.
“And finally, they will put you in touch with the carefully selected professionals who can deliver the changes your business needs.”
All the new business advisers are experienced, hands-on managers and operators with a wealth of wisdom to share.
Penny Bond’s career has seen her work in just about every aspect of business - finance and credit control, sales, marketing, PR, and production and distribution co-ordination - but little in it has excited her more than helping Business Link clients.
She said: “That light bulb moment is the very best buzz that I get from this job.
“Businesses have transformed their perspectives to achieve very great advances after working with our team of advisers over just two days.”
Al Brooking’s career includes a long period as a partner in a family business, and he has 12 years’ senior management experience in retail and hospitality as well as stints in a number of other industries.
He said: “I feel real empathy with the owner/manager who regularly works a 70-hour week, because I have been there myself.
“There are many really excellent businesses out there, and I see my role as getting down to the real nitty gritty to find the solutions they need to get even better.”
Nicola Evans has had a successful career in marketing, including the launch, development, and sale of her own Midlands-based consultancy prior to moving to Somerset.
But she regards working with Business Link as her dream job.
She said: “It allows me to utilise my experience, expertise, and passion for marketing and business in general to help other companies fulfil their aspirations.
“That really gives me a buzz - helping people make positive change in their businesses.”
Roger Bacon sees the most valuable assets he can bring to Somerset businesses as his extensive experience and empathy.
“I have ve been there myself,” he said. “ As MD, I have gone into businesses that had not been performing well and worked closely with their team to turn them around.
“I get huge enjoyment and satisfaction from helping people to identify the problems that could be holding their business back and working together on what needs to be done to achieve even greater performance.”
A former management consultant, Roger most recently ran a major regeneration programme in East Anglia before moving to the South West.
Peter Oldham has a proud record of helping troubled businesses turn the corner - in a recent brief period as managing director of a warehousing and distribution business, for example, he helped turn a £150,000 loss in 2006 into a profit of more than £200,000 the following year.
He said: “I am not frightened of change, and taking the actions that a business needs to succeed.
“In my experience, though, it is most often changing the attitudes of people that does the most to help an organisation improve.”
According to Adam Chambers, this series of new appointments is a major investment in the future of Somerset business, which confirms the organisation’s commitment to one-to-one business support.
He said: “This is a fantastic line-up of management talent, and itis a very exciting moment for us and for the 22,000 SMEs across the county.
“From now on, we expect to see even better growth rates among the businesses we help across Somerset, even in today’s tough economy.”
Anybody who wants to arrange a face-to-face meeting with one of Business Link’s business advisers should call 0845 600 9966 or visit, where they will also find details of the many other services with which Business Link is involved.
They include Somerset-dedicated staff who can link businesses to a vast range of services for existing enterprises and those just thinking of starting up.
They can also put callers directly in touch with specialist services for rural businesses (via SWREG, the South West Rural Enterprise Gateway), people wishing to import or export (through UKTI, UK Trade and Investment), and anybody looking for training services (via Train to Gain).
Mr Chambers said: “It is all there just waiting to be used, and all the advice and contact services we provide are completely free.
“So there is no reason not to give it a go, and a great deal to gain.”
  • Our photograph shows Business Link advisers (left to right) Nicola Evans, Peter Odham, Penny Bond, Al Brooking, and Roger Bacon. Photo submitted.

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