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I know that I can just give them a call, they get straight on the case, take it to the panel, and come up with solutions FOR ME. — Susan Wylie, ‘Touch’ Showband


Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about BizFizz. Click on a question to see the answer.

A: No. There may be some arguments for this model when you are trying to use limited resources to create as many jobs as possible; however, BizFizz is based on a different model. For BizFizz an entrepreneur is anyone who has an idea through which they wish to make either social or financial profit. This may include lifestyle business with no growth prospects. Enterprise activity has a wide range of benefits for disadvantaged communities other than simply through the business growing and creating jobs.

There are no financial incentives for Panel members – their contribution is entirely voluntary.

Most involvement in the community by the private sector is motivated by a combination of two factors: genuine altruism, often expressed as ‘wanting to put something back’ into the community and a desire for good public relations.  BizFizz is an excellent way of achieving both of these objectives.  It is an opportunity for involvement and association with an exciting and innovative project based on self-help through enterprise. A local BizFizz project will generate a succession of good news stories.

For the individual, being on the BizFizz Panel will also be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience. It is also an excellent networking opportunity as they will be meeting other influential and well-connected people.

Being on the Panel may lead to new business contacts and we have no problem with people making use of these.  All we will ask is that they do not bring BizFizz into disrepute and that they do not claim that BizFizz endorses their business.

Finally, improving the prosperity of the area is in the interests of all business people.

Being on the Local Panel is rewarding and fun. It is not as onerous as being on the Panel of other projects and organisations. This is neither a management committee nor a board with directors’ responsibilities (unless the Panel decides they want to run the project that way). Panel members are simply asked to contribute ideas, knowledge, experience and contacts. They only need to attend one meeting of about 2 hours a month, unless they want to do more.

A:  There are two reasons for this:

  • Firstly, to preserve confidentiality. Panel members, especially those from regulatory authorities, may agree to use their influence to help the entrepreneur. They may not want to create an expectation that they can always do this. Panel members may also want to explain to their colleagues, in confidence, the contacts and influence they have without wanting these known more widely.
  • Secondly, the Coach will be trained to interpret and present to the Panel the entrepreneur’s problems, including any shortcomings in the entrepreneur him/herself. They will then convey the Panel’s feedback in a sensitive and positive manner and negotiate an action plan with the entrepreneur.

A: We certainly expect that one of the outcomes of the BizFizz projects will be a higher success rate in attracting business finance of all sorts within the BizFizz area, including, where appropriate, venture capital. One of the ways this will happen is because the Panel will include people with an awareness of, and contacts to, all kinds of business finance institutions.

A: BizFizz does not operate by setting targets. Criteria for success of each project should be established locally.

That does not mean to say there is no monitoring. We are monitoring progress carefully in order to evaluate the success. We measure outputs such as growth rates of referrals, new businesses created, numbers of people who have come off benefits. We will also monitor and chase progress on achieving ‘process’ targets such as having the Coach introduced to 300 people within 3 months.

A: No.  We need the Coach to be dedicated exclusively to the BizFizz area. Otherwise there may be problems with capacity and this may compromise the effectiveness of the model. BizFizz is about intensive support within a particular community, we should not dilute that support.

A: No. The Coach, in discussion with the client, will select a number of cases each month to take to the Panel. The others (s)he will deal with through business advice, information and signposting.

A: No. Although this might be useful, it is more important that each BizFizz project appoints someone with the right skills, experience and attitude. Of course, once they have been introduced to the Panel and their contacts, they will have a ready-made network of up to 330, which should help them to get to know the area quite quickly.

A: No. In fact, we would not expect them to be. Some of your ‘clued up and connected’ people will come from elsewhere in the city, county or region.

A: If project areas decide to continue providing business support using a BizFizz type approach after the initial two years of support, they can opt to become associates of BizFizz, and become members of the National Network and continue to share their learning nationally with the support of the National Co-ordinators.

A: Part of the learning process will be developing the most effective ways for the Coach and Panel to meet together. However, we anticipate this being dynamic and energetic with a view to practical advice that helps people into action.

A: Not exclusively, nef have a strong interest in, and history of, promoting and supporting social enterprise. However, we believe that social enterprise and private enterprise are not opposites and that social enterprise will flourish where enterprise and entrepreneurship flourishes. We expect that one of the outcomes from the BizFizz programme will be more social enterprises in the BizFizz areas, but the programmes cannot be used exclusively to promote one type of enterprise.