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Nathan has been a regular contributor to The Information Daily, The Sunday Times, BBC Radio 4, Television Today, Design Week and a number of technical and business publications including Public Service Digital.

The Owner Managers network. What is it and why do we need it?

The OM Network is a combination of a news and opinion platform (featuring video, audio and written content for and by owner managers), OMNSIGs (owner manager network special interest groups) run by OMs for OMs, and live events small and large. Members of OMN Special Interest Groups will be eligible for a stream of benefits. The OM Network allows OMs to connect with and learn from other owner managers. In short, a genuine (and genuinely useful) networking opportunity - not just a breakfast sponsored by a large accountancy firm.

Owner managed businesses (OMBs) face a number of unique challenges. Even those challenges that OMBs hold in common with all businesses can turn out to be peculiarly intractable for OMBs. There are lots of us. Everyone agrees that OMBs are essential for the future economic success of the UK. The family owned and managed businesses of Germany are often identified as a major factor in German economic success. And yet the sources of real help for OMBs, and in particular quick pragmatic advice, are as rare as teeth in hens.

If you are an owner manager like me, the person you most want at the other end of the phone or answering an email or standing on a platform at some event or writing case studies illustrating success (and failure) is another owner manager. A whole raft of organisations pay lip service to the need to encourage and support SMEs and then turn out to be not available or very little use.

Most banks have no idea what it means to be the owner manager of an SME, and it doesn’t seem to have occurred to them to employ a few OMs to help them relate to people like us. Most lawyers and accountants are OMBs themselves, but they are fiercely silent on their own experiences and strategies and pretty much all of them want paying pretty much all of the time.

Most government departments, quangos, professional associations, representative bodies, industrial societies, chartered institutes, grant giving organisations, training organisations, legislating bodies and enforcement agencies are run and managed by people who have never been in any sort of business - never mind an owner managed SME.

Furthermore, many professional associations, representative bodies and chartered institutes are bound to inaction by codes of behaviour more appropriate to the reign of Queen Victoria, which is when the relatively new ones were founded.

The word “networking” is now largely taken to mean an event, such as a breakfast or a presentation by some luminary none of us have ever heard of, funded by some large accountancy firm or former local government agency now struggling to pay their own way and make sense of their own existence. Other guests try to sell their services to you and you try to sell your services to them while the host tries to sell their services to everybody. These sessions are almost always a good breakfast ruined.

The OM Network allows you to join in discussions with other owner managers and call upon the experience of your peers. In short a genuine network. At the same time, while tapping into the wisdom of the crowd, the OMN will keep you in touch with news and opinion of particular relevance to owner managed businesses turning over between roughly half a million and five million pounds a year.

The full-blown network will be launching over the next four weeks. For now all you need to do is follow us on Twitter @OMNdotNET