TOP 50: K I T E

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The Independent Online
THE PRIZE for this year's top-placed company is a year's free membership of KITE, the pioneering business forum recently established as a new business venture by the accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward.

The firm, which has long been a specialist adviser to entrepreneurial businesses, has launched KITE to give chief executives of such firms access to advice and support that would not otherwise be available to them.

KITE members are split into groups of up to 10, representing non-competing companies, and then each group meets once a month under the aegis of a trained moderator in order to discuss business problems and business challenges. The sessions include talks from experts of the group's choice, but the key focus is on the group discussions in which members provide each other with insights and lessons from their own varied experiences.

Similar self-help groups designed to provide chief executives of growing businesses with assistance of this sort have been around for a while. But KITE is convinced that the presence of moderators - established independent business people specially trained to obtain the maximum benefit from the sessions - sets it apart.

Indeed, feedback from the initiative that began in earnest earlier this year has been so strong that it is becoming increasingly clear that membership of the club - worth pounds 8,400 a year - could be an important source of competitive advantage, and as a result a highly desirable first prize.