Businesses are being sought for a free advice and support programme to help develop solutions to common issues.

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership is recruiting for the Peer Network programme, which will run from next month to March and cover topics from entrepreneurial and finance skills to HR, communication and sales and marketing.

The sessions will be led by Jack Stopforth of Taylor Stopforth (Consulting Services), who has worked as CEO/MD and chair of his own and other people’s businesses and organisations for many years.

Jack has lived in Cumbria for 25 years and works as a management consultant across the UK and internationally.

He is chair of the Borderlands Economy Forum and is a member of the partnership board of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.

Jack said: “The stats are unequivocal. Business owners and managers, who reach out and seek external support are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. It is a cliché but running a business, whether it’s your own or somebody else’s, is a stressful and lonely job. Meeting others facing the same pressures and learning from their experience can only help.

“Coaching sessions will cover a range of business issues, but don’t expect lectures or seminars. I am less interested in teaching those things than I am in finding new ways to deal with them as challenges unique to your business.

“This is what we mean by innovative businesses – not necessarily technological solutions but fresh approaches to your business challenges discussed in an atmosphere of trust and collaboration, whether in the peer group or in one to one mentoring... and I can’t wait to get started.”