This paper reviews the first year experience of a programme (Backing Winners), launched by North Yorkshire TEC in 1995 to provide support for new and young businesses with growth potential. The Backing Winners (BW) programme differs from previous schemes in that it is not restricted to clients who are unemployed, it provides access to some key business services (such as office services), and there is no grant offered to individual businesses. Delivery of BW is focused on Personal Business Mentors (PBMs) whose role is similar to that of the PBA in Business Links. Based on a survey of 144 clients businesses and interviews with representatives of each of the Enterprise Agencies (EAs) contracted to deliver BW, the conclusion is that it was successful during the first year of its operation. Clients were very satisfied with their PBMs and some were active users of group training and office services. The paper also considers a number of policy issues raised by the study. These include broad issues such as the extent to which there is a case for targeting support on new and young firms such as these, and the extent to which the operation of a selective approach at the start‐up stage involves “picking winners”. In addition, BW raises a number of delivery issues which include: the need for adequate resourcing to enable the workload of PBMs (or PBAs) to be compatible with effective delivery; the need to reconsider the use of freelance consultants as PBMs (or PBAs); the need to recognise that many small manufacturing firms have sector‐specific support requirements; the need to set performance targets to agencies contracted to deliver such programmes, which recognise differences between agencies and their catchments.
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 1, 1998
Keywords: Start‐ups; Growth; Business development; Mentors
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