19th February 2009

I was intrigued to read about the latest initiative from the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies (NFEA) – ACT a network for enterprise support individuals. Drawing from their website ACT is “Especially developed for individuals working within the enterprise sector……. a unique network for like-minded professionals who offer services such as advice, coaching, mentoring and training to those starting and running small businesses”.

It is certainly an interesting development from the NFEA which is aiming at the individual rather than the organisation, which it has traditionally represented. I do believe that there is a gap in the market for such a venture. I was an outspoken critic of much of what the old “Institute of Business Advisors” provided but without doubt there was a role there which needed to be filled. From my perspective since the merger of the IBA with the Chartered Management Institute the needs of the sector have taken a back seat.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that there is some dissatisfaction amongst previous IBA members so perhaps the NFEA has stumbled across a real opportunity. However there is a danger that they are entering a crowded marketplace without the resources to achieve market share.

Again according to the NFEA website – “ACT members will be able to benefit from a full programme of dedicated activities including training events, CPD, locally-based networking as well as an annual conference.” Using its organisational member base the NFEA has access to many hundreds of business advisors and so if this is exploited well there is a potential for real momentum.

I have previously expressed my frustration at the lack of bespoke support for my trainers and advisors (c30 at NWES alone) and so if the NFEA can produce a compelling programme of events we will certainly participate. So what would I like to see? I do not want a repeat of what is already out there so relevance is of prime concern. Regular bulletins are of use as would be some form of formal induction for people new to the profession. Local networking is always welcome but again it needs to be appropriate. High quality speakers that can enthuse and impart knowledge are vital at any event. Most importantly I would like to see the standards in the industry raised with some nationally recognised and policed qualifications.

With the advent of BSSP some industry focus is welcome and so we will be at the inaugural conference in Nottingham on 28 April. Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a major new force in the industry. Sign up for the conference and you will find out!

www.nfea.com

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