Will the web of open business be the death of Business Link?

There’s never been a better time to be a startup or small business owner looking for advice. There’s a glorious web of potential business mentors out there on the internet, …

8th June 2007 at 3:39 pm

There’s never been a better time to be a startup or small business owner looking for advice. There’s a glorious web of potential business mentors out there on the internet, offering help, insight and encouragement.

What’s important is that many of these people are real entrepreneurs, or real VCs, or real lawyers, or real web 2.0 super stars with real experience. What’s more through networking sites or blogs or wikis or podcasts you can reach them. You can ask them questions. You can interact with them.clivebirnie

A few things have prompted me to think about this subject of late.

Firstly, in the spirit of open business, the offer from a reader of this blog, Clive Birnie, to provide free advice on funding a business to anyone who needs it.

Clive, pictured on the right [hope he doesn’t mind me nicking his pic, but you’ve got to respect the Bluresque album cover style], is managing director of British textile manufacturer Severn Delta and has relatively recently started blogging. His blog, like many of the best, mixes his own experience and views of business with plenty of personal stuff. You get a real flavour of Clive and his business, not to mention some bloody useful practical advice along the way.

Of course, finding all this good advice spread across the millions of blogs, podcasts and other resources across the web can be tricky. That’s where a little aggregation goes a long way. I’ve added a feed to the sidebar of SmallBizPod’s ‘Recommended‘ section which contains some of my favourite blog posts updated most days. But you can also keep track of business topics that interest you using Google blog search or Technorati. This type of easy aggregation also got me thinking about how people find business advice these days.

Even without aggregation, the journey of discovering things for yourself can be most revealing as you’re never quite sure what you’re going to bump into on the web that could end up providing that crucial piece of business inspiration.

All of which leads me to ask, why would you need to go visit your local Business Link for advice from a retired banker or accountant?

The above sentence is, no doubt, a gross stereotype. Nevertheless there’s a grain of truth and it’s a complaint I’ve heard very often about public service delivered advice to SMEs.

Next week, I’ll put my thinking cap on to write a constructive post on what Business Link needs to do to keep itself relevant in a hyper-networked world. Let me know if you have any thoughts on the relevance of Business Link by leaving a comment.

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Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog. http://www.smallbizpod.co.uk

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  1. Clive Birnie says:

    Alex, of course I do not mind your borrowing the pic. Thanks for the kind words.

    My experience of Business Link confirms your stereotype I am afraid.

    The Manufacturing Advisory Service is a different story. There is a particularly strong team in the South West who have been a good source of advice. I would recommend the MAS as the first port of call if manufacturing is your thing.

  2. Clive – care to expand on MAS and the value it has delivered to you? On your blog or here is good for me.

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