Thanks to Steve Walker at ART for this — it had somehow escaped me.
In October 2011 BIS published Business Support for Social Enterprise: Findings from a Longitudinal Study, by Gordon Allinson et al from the Policy Research Group at the University of Durham can be downloaded here.
It’s rather long and the exec summary probably tells you most of what you want to know.
The report is useful in that it derives from a substantial study and confirms trends that those active in business support will have discerned for some time now.
Where I differ with the authors’ findings is their conclusion that for most SEs mentoring-type support and online tools/resources are likely to be the preferred means of access to business support.
Stating the conclusion baldly like this probably does the report a disservice in that there is a significant layer of detail underpinning its findings, but I couldn’t help feeling that in this particular instance the conclusion was a convenience rather than one borne out wholly by some of the other details. While these methods of course have their place, I am always surprised that studies such as this fail to grasp that support for SE (and arguably for conventional businesses too) needs to be part of a planned developmental process. Sporadic mentoring only goes so far.
Read it (at least the exec summary) for yourself and see what you think…