Business Link is built around a proposition called IDB. Inform, Diagnose and Broker.
Providing access to information, diagnosing problems, and brokering in people who can provide relevant specialist help.
As well as facing some tricky practical problems (making brokerage effective and impartial being just one) there are more significant problems with this approach. It focuses on problems and weaknesses and assumes that these can best be managed by introducing the owner manager, or the management team, to an external consultant with specialist knowhow.
In spite of some very practical problems in making this work (has anyone got a brokerage platform that really works yet, or a methodology for diagnosing that is used consistently, objectively and effectively by all brokers?); the main problem is the occasional failure to get to the nub of the issue – the make up of the entrepreneurial team and the managerial imbalance that, more often than not, is the root cause of the problem.
If a business is struggling with some aspect of its development, this is a clue that there maybe a weakness in the management team in that area. It maybe a lack of knowledge. Or a lack of passion for the specific activity. It maybe that the knowledge and passion was never present in the management team (we don’t do enough to help entrepreneurs build a robust management team before they start up). Or it may have just been lost over time as one, or more, of the management team becomes complacent or jaded. More often than not the underlying problem is in the current competence and passion of the owner manager or management team. But this gets overlooked in our rush to broker in a solution.
A specialist is brokered in and the problem addressed. Temporarily. Often with limited success.
Because of the nature of the underlying problem. There is no-one in the management team who really cares about this aspect of the business who has the passion and the tenacity to implement the recommendations of the specialists. Giving marketing advice to someone who is not passionate about marketing is unlikely to lead to a roaring success.
The client often does not need brokering to a supplier of a one-off specialist solution. They need to be helped to confront the structural weaknesses in their management team that allowed the problem to arise or the opportunity to slip by.