When you are in a micro-business, as I am, you find yourself sometimes besieged by people wanting to make money for themselves by helping you to be more efficient, more focused, more technologically savvy, more whatever their particular skill is. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s the way the world is, but it may not be the way business is done forever!

A few months ago, I met Daryl and Paula Hine through my membership of 4Networking. You know how it is when you meet some people something just clicks and you think ‘Yes, they’ re genuine, authentic people – I like them’? Well, that’s what happened with Daryl and Paula and I!

A few weeks later we were chatting at another 4Networking meeting (we seem to make a habit of stalking each other, goodness knows how many times Daryl and Paula have seen my ‘From Borstal to Business…..’ 4sight speech, and they still keep coming back for more!) Well, we were chatting, and Link4Growth came into the conversation. Daryl and Paula were starting this initiative, along with Chris Ogle, to help small businesses to be more successful. I was intrigued, so went along to one of the initial boardrooms in Watford.

I was very glad that I had gone. This particular meeting took place after the regular 4Networking meeting in Watford, so I had the benefit of meeting some of the most interesting small businesses in the area before we moved on to the Link4Growth meeting. This is what happened: The meeting was led by an experienced facilitator and was restricted to 12 people around the table. Everyone brought an issue to the table – these issues were written up on a flipchart and then everyone voted on the issues (you are not allowed to vote for your own!). Then we went through each of the top four voted-for issues in turn, with each boardroom member having the opportunity to ask a question and offer a solution. I found the whole experience really powerful, and took a lot out of the meeting, even though my issue didn’t get discussed. I also had the chance to offer my suggestions to people who I saw as more experienced in business than myself – and that is what floats my boat, helping other people.

After this, I decided that I wanted to get involved with Link4Growth myself, as a facilitator, or Boardroom Director (sounds grand, doesn’t it, but I’m not!) So the Huntingdon group launched on 29 September, with resoundingly positive feedback from all who participated.  I’m really looking forward to helping more business people to help themselves and help each other. I may even get some help myself. I think this is the future of business support in the U.K! There will be monthly meetings in Huntingdon and Link4Growth is growing around the U.K. – it’s already in Watford, Ware, Liverpool, Runcorn, Chepstow, Chelmsford, High Wycombe, St. Albans, London Liverpool Street and Harrow and will be growing rapidly as 2011 comes to and end and we move into 2012!