A quick glance at the comments left by readers of Real Business at the bottom of the Business Link news paints a revealing picture. The comments from those who will be sorry to see Business Link go are generally from people who have had successful and positive experiences with their local team. The negative ones are, in the main, from people who don’t deal with Business Link and just think it’s a waste of time and/or money. Now my logic might be too simple here but, in basic terms, this tells me that the only people with anything negative to say about Business Link are those who haven’t actually used it. Those who did have given positive feedback. Would you take any notice of a restaurant review from someone who’d never eaten at the restaurant they were writing about? Nope. I wonder if Mark Prisk has ever used Business Link? I doubt it, but maybe I’m wrong. I have used it and I have had good personal service, good advice, been to free, useful events and received funding. Okay, so sometimes one member of staff hasn’t been as good as another, but that’s the case with any business or service provider. It has been said that SMEs will be at the vanguard of any revival of the UK economy – and surely it’s these businesses (especially the smallest) who benefit from Business Link since they may not have the budget to pay for advice privately. No matter what Mark Prisk says, private advice just isn’t the same – it’s more expensive and rarely comes without strings attached or a sales pitch at the end. Business Link was a genuine no-strings-attached advisory and support service – and we need that. As for Prisk’s “21st-century approach” with a simpler-to-use online service, the man is just spouting buzz words (some of them being ten years out of date). One benefit of Business Link was the personal relationship with an individual who developed an understanding of the business and then advised on this basis. Searching through yet another government website, and then waiting in line to speak to a call-centre operator, is a poor substitute. I fear for the people who work for Business Link and who have given enthusiastic support over recent years and shown a genuine interest in me and my businesses. Scrapping Business Link is a very bad development for the UK’s SME community. Since it is the month for football, I’ll summarise it like this: Cost cutting 1, UK businesses 0
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