Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Enterprise Hub helps new mum Claire on the road to start up success


After over a decade spent working in various fashion and beauty companies, Claire decided it was time to take charge of her own schedule and put her marketing skills to use with a project of her own.

And so, Clairilla was born.



Clairilla offers digital services for local businesses, including web design, digital marketing and social media. As well as a bespoke e-commerce and brand consultancy offering – specially geared up for clients in the fashion and beauty industries.

Claire says: “I love that by working in these areas it means I can bridge the gap between my love of fashion and beauty with new technology, markets and the future of digital. When I graduated from Liverpool Hope University in 2008 online shopping was booming - being a part of that growth has been such a fulfilling and invaluable experience.”

As a first-time mum Claire decided it was the perfect time to take the plunge and put her experience to the test.

She says: “I had always wanted to set up myself but wanted to gain a varied experience in industry first. Since having my daughter I decided that this would be the perfect time to set up as I can work my schedule around her and work for myself.”

Working from home gives Claire the flexibility to be with her daughter and find a work-life balance, while keeping business costs and overheads down as she continues to grow and develop Clairilla.
So, how did Claire get the ball rolling on her new venture?

Claire explained that it all started with thinking up her “ideal client” and the work she wanted to do. With her ideal client in mind, Claire drew up a list of services which she would offer them.
Armed with a plan Claire contacted our partners at The Women’s Organisation, where she was introduced to business advisor Yan Miao who worked through the business start-up process with her.

She says: “I had some fantastic advice and tips from the team at The Women's Organisation, as well as using my previous experience. I found this support invaluable as it provided me with the tools, advice and knowledge to launch my company with confidence.

“One of the areas I found daunting was the financial management side of running a business, but Yan provided me with all the tools I needed as well as options for bookkeeping and tax courses.”

Life as a first-time mum has been busy for Claire, but with the support of her family and friends she quickly found a balance. She says: “I manage by scheduling my time with childcare as well as remote meetings and phone calls with clients. The Women's Organisation have also been very understanding allowing me to bring my daughter along to some meetings!”

We asked Claire what her top tip would be for someone looking to start up a business of their own?

She says: “I would advise them to get in touch with The Women's Organisation. Also to be clear about their ideal client and target them first. It is tempting to cast the net wide to catch more clients but a more focused approach will benefit your business more in the long run.

“One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to just take the plunge. From doubting social posts, tweaking my website and networking at events. Everyone is nervous at the start, but once you’ve tried a few times the ball soon gets rolling and your confidence grows. Always trust your gut, instinct goes a very long way!”

With a raft of new clients and a number of exciting projects in the pipeline, things don’t look to be slowing down any time soon for Claire!

She says: “With the knowledge gained throughout my career I am so excited for where my new business will take me and the potential it has. I feel really excited and motivated to continue working on finding new clients as well as enjoying the projects I am currently working on!”

If you’d like to find out more about Clairilla’s services, you can visit the website by clicking here. You can also find Clairilla on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. To contact Claire directly, e-mail hello@clairilla.com.


For more information about support to help start or grow your new business through Enterprise Hub, please contact 0151 706 8113 or enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk.



Monday, 29 July 2019

Alison Provides Vital Companionship to Local Elderly Community Following Enterprise Hub Support


After working in banking for 25 years, Alison became increasingly uncomfortable with the changes she saw in the industry; finding their disregard of the older generation during the shift to digital banking particularly hard to deal with.

Alison Enhance Life's Qualities


After her mother was taken ill Alison realised first hand just how many older people are in need of support, so she decided to offer up her own solution to the problem; setting up Enhance Life’s Qualities, a companionship service for older people.

Alison explained: “Our services vary from light cleaning around the house, accompanying people to hospital appointments, making their breakfast or just keeping them company and having a chat. We help lots of different people including those with dementia by playing dominoes and helping them to keep their minds active.”

Alison was unsure about how to take that all-important first step into self-employment, so she came to St Helens Chamber’s Start Up team for help.

Alison explained: “I came to the Chamber and met up with Steve Mather from the Business Start Up team, he suggested I enrol onto business start-up workshops which were a great help as they gave me insight into what I needed to do at an early stage; up until that point I didn’t really know where to start.”

Steve Mather, Business Start-Up Adviser at St Helens Chamber added: “We both knew from the outset that this was a great business concept, this is a growing market which is only going to continue to grow. There was a real gap for a quality companionship service like Enhance Life’s Qualities and it’s great to see how the business is going from strength to strength in our meetings.”
After just a year and a half, demand for Alison’s services are growing and Enhance Life’s Qualities are offering more to their clients then ever before - such as a handyman service for smaller jobs around the house, courtesy of Alison’s partner.

Alison added: “We also now have a seven seater minibus to do days out with the older people. It helps the people who are lonely and may not get out much to make new friends and have new experiences.”

Not only are clients benefitting from the business’ growth, but Enhance Life’s Qualities are now recruiting for a new staff member!

Alison explained: “I have two people already working for the company on a self-employed basis, but demand is growing and we now need someone else to help us deliver our services across St Helens and Merseyside.

 “Without the help of the start-up team I might not have started the business and been at the point I am now, they gave me the direction I needed at that crucial early stage.”

You can find out more about Alison’s business at https://www.enhancelifesqualities.co.uk/

St Helens Chamber is part of Enterprise Hub, the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in the Liveprool City Region.  Offering expert advice and support to anyone thinking about starting a business, including help to:
• Understand the process of starting a business
• Research a business idea
• Build a comprehensive business plan
• Develop a marketing plan
• Create financial forecasts to understand the costs of running your business and potential income
• Identify sources of finance to get started
Enterprise Hub is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

For more information about the support available from St Helens Chamber to start a business, call 0845 340 9980 or email startup@sthelenschamber.com

For more information about Enterprise Hub in general contact enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk or 0151 706 8113.





Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Little Nell thinks big in children’s book market

“I wonder what our pets get up to when we are not around?”

It’s a question many pet owners ask themselves.
It was this question that inspired a local mother and daughter team to develop a children’s book based on their pet springer spaniel. And so, the loveable character Little Nell was born.
Working with support from St Helens Chamber, Pauline and Laura Davies “Little Nell” books are rapidly increasing in popularity, receiving excellent feedback from not only parents and children, but also gaining acclaim from fellow writers.
Little Nell Supported by Enterprise Hub
Little Nell
Pauline commented:  “We developed the idea for the books simply by observing our little dog.  She loves to take her ball to her crate each night, and so we developed the idea that the ball and crate together would enable her to go on a series of magical adventures.” 
It has certainly been an adventure for the real Nell though when Laura revealed that they had nearly lost her to a life-threatening illness, with several last minute, blood transfusions saving Nell’s life.
Laura commented “We thought we would have to abandon the idea of the book because it would be just too upsetting if we had lost Nell. However, she showed amazing resilience and against the odds made a full recovery. As you can imagine, this made us even more determined to complete our first book.”
Following the release of the first book “Little Nell and Pepper” Laura and Pauline engaged with St Helens Chamber to help develop their business further.  The local authors have since had several business sessions with the Chamber of Commerce discussing ideas, finance and marketing and they have also attended a workshop “How to Create a Dynamic 60 Second Pitch” on pitching the business.  The input has helped formulate a forward business plan.
Pauline commented: “Getting an agent or publisher in the children’s book market is notoriously difficult, so we needed some additional input and help in preparation for this.  The chamber has been fantastic and provided us with lots of ideas going forward. The breakfast networking meetings they run have also been really good, and we have been overwhelmed by the support other local businesses have shown us.”
The mother and daughter team have now completed and self-published two books, with Foyle’s bookstore and Amazon listing the Little Nell titles, but it is with the local primary schools that the books are going down a storm.
“We have completed readings at a number of primary schools locally and have had great feedback.  It’s a real joy to interact with the children and see how much they enjoy the books, and they come out with some great ideas on what they want Nell to do next.”
With growing impetus and support, Pauline and Laura are now attending various literary festivals.
Laura commented: “Festivals provide us with an opportunity to speak directly to publishers and agents. The profile of the books is rising, but we still have a lot of work to do, but the support we receive locally is invaluable.”
St Helens Chamber is part of Enterprise Hub, the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Merseyside.  Offering expert advice and support to anyone thinking about starting a business, including help to:
  • Understand the process of starting a business
  • Research a business idea
  • Build a comprehensive business plan
  • Develop a marketing plan
  • Create financial forecasts to understand the costs of running your  business and potential income
  • Identify sources of finance to get started

Enterprise Hub is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

For more information about Little Nell, please visit

www.littlenellonline.co.uk


For more information about the support available from St Helens Chamber to start a business, call 0845 340 9980 or email startup@sthelenschamber.com 



Monday, 8 July 2019

Passion for environment drives innovative Eco-building business


If you spend just a few minutes in the company of Annabel and Alan Cameron-Duff, you quickly realise that creativity and an absolute passion for the environment underpins their business The Roundhouse Company. The innovative eco-building business primarily supplies beautifully constructed roundhouses and other interesting smaller structures using natural and handcrafted finishes.

The Roundhouse Company
The Roundhouse Company


With a background in art and interior design, the husband and wife team set up the business in 2016, with some initial support from St Helens Chamber, but the business itself has been over 16 years in the making. Initially inspired by taking a Natural Building Apprenticeship in the USA in 2001, Alan and Annabel had already accumulated years of research and experience in creating buildings from various natural materials such as cob, hemp, straw and timber.

In October 2017, they approached St Helens Chamber and obtained support through the New Enterprise Allowance. They also attended a number of free workshops around financial management and marketing and were also allocated an experienced business mentor who supported them to complete a full business plan.
Annabel commented: “Commercially the Chamber input was invaluable. The completed business plan and advice from the business mentor enabled us to secure initial funding, providing a focus for our future.”

The future certainly looks interesting for The Roundhouse Company, particularly within the Education sector.  The company has not only delivered innovative outdoor classroom spaces but is also working on several modular roundhouse designs suitable for schools.   
Annabel commented: “Roundhouses are wonderful education spaces for schools. The very nature of round buildings are inclusive and create a good space for learning. Some schools also use their Roundhouses for community events or rent them out for parties or private functions, which can be a source of revenue, so as well as being an inspiring place to learn, they provide commercial opportunities.”
Quite uniquely, The Roundhouse Company also include educational workshops to schools which they deliver during any project, teaching staff and children all about natural buildings, and sustainability, with educational content centred around the national curriculum.
Alan commented: “"There is a lot more to eco-friendly roundhouses...We are conscious of where the materials have come from and aim to source them as locally as possible to minimise the environmental footprint whilst also supporting local businesses.”
The company is also working on other exciting developments including a mobile Eco Pod, a self-contained, insulated unit, created from natural materials, with potential uses such as glamping and bird hides.
Geoff Bates, Business Support Manager from St Helens Chamber commented.
“We think The Roundhouse Company has tremendous potential as a business, with a very strong offer, particularly to schools.  St Helens Chamber has been delighted to work with Alan and Annabel and looks forward to supporting their future growth.”
St Helens Chamber is part of Enterprise Hub, the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Merseyside.  Offering expert advice and support to anyone thinking about starting a business, including help to:
  • Understand the process of starting a business
  • Research a business idea
  • Build a comprehensive business plan
  • Develop a marketing plan
  • Create financial forecasts to understand the costs of running your  business and potential income
  • Identify sources of finance to get started

Enterprise Hub is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

For more information about The Roundhouse Company, please visit

www.theroundhousecompany.co.uk

For more information about the support available from St Helens Chamber to start a business, call 0845 340 9980 or email startup@sthelenschamber.com