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Business Gateway strategic review


The evaluation was commissioned prior to the Business Gateway contract being put out for tender in 2007. Its aims were: to analyse the 2004-05 service delivery costs across the twelve Business Gateways in the four core services of business start-ups, business information, aftercare and business growth; and to survey Business Gateway's customers to analyse their perceptions and the impact of Business Gateway on their businesses.


Four separate surveys of clients over the four core services were undertaken, with around 2,000 clients surveyed in total.


Several conclusions were made on the basis of the data gathered: Business Gateway awareness and market penetration are high, but awareness is mainly of the start-up service rather than services for existing businesses; market penetration varies significantly across the network; costs per business start-up correlate positively with survival; start-up numbers correlate positively with qualifications; the aftercare and business growth services are not core products; and the costs paid to contractors delivering aftercare and growth services vary across the network.


The following recommendations were made for development of the new contract: Gateway marketing should emphasise that services are available for existing business as well as start-ups; minimum levels of penetration should be specified for each Gateway area; a realistic start-up unit cost should be set and payment should be phased, dependent upon meeting certain survival milestones; the amount allocated to business start-ups should be positively skewed towards those areas where qualification levels are below the network norm; the allowance for network management costs should be determined by the number of delivery staff; the unit costs of delivering the Business Information service should be based upon specified yardsticks; there needs to be a clear definition of what is to be delivered, and to which clients, for the aftercare and business growth services; when standard services are delivered as part of the Business Growth service, contractors should be paid the same unit cost for delivery regardless of the Gateway through which the services are being delivered; 'Aftercare' should be renamed 'Start Up Monitoring'; consideration should be given to focusing and rebranding Gateway as a service that provides advice and support to start-ups and information to any business; business advice and support services (other than information) should be delivered under a different branding and possibly by a separate organisation or division; consideration should be given to segmenting Gateway’s clients at the point of first contact according to such criteria as the markets they are serving and the activities they are involved in; the Gateway website should be augmented by the addition of more advanced business tools and other features that can, in part, substitute for face to face contact with an adviser; and the databases and record-keeping of Gateway clients should be improved, in particular ensuring that client records are matched with the specific services they receive.

Author Keith Hayton and Chris Boyd (GEN Consulting)
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Entrepreneurship/new firm formation, Support to existing/growth businesses