Friday, 30 March 2018

University Graduate Ellie Is Baking Her Way To Business Success

Graduating from university and finding your first steps on the career ladder can be an exciting and pivotal part of your future. However, the reality that many graduates are faced with post-graduation, is a tough, competitive job market. Interestingly, research shows that more and more graduates are deciding to explore the option of starting their own business or becoming self-employed. 

Helped by The Women's Organisation, Ellie Ruddy, based in Wirral, decided to become her own boss after completing her university course in Food and Consumer Studies.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Katie's Motto Is 'Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway!’

It should never be too late to realise your passion. At the age of 32 Katie Bigelow decided to go and train as a teacher, up to that point she had worked in educational environments and it seemed like the obvious step to take. Little did she know at the time, but this was the first step to her future as a business owner.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Always Grave Care – An Inspiring Business Start Up Story

After losing several close family members over the last couple of years, Gail recognised what an important part of the grieving process a loved one’s final resting place can be. She noticed that quite a few grave sites were becoming overgrown or had dead flowers on the headstones. After a bit of research, Gail was saddened to learn that a lot of people didn’t live close enough to regularly maintain graves and that this was the cause of some guilt and frustration.

As people move away from areas for work or family reasons, this is becoming a common scenario! Gail had the idea for her business three years ago, but at the time was working for the NHS and wasn’t sure about giving up her job. She knew that redundancies were looming and started to look into her idea by carrying out some market research.

Gail was encouraged by the positive responses that she received, but was dealt a blow when she found out that she had breast cancer. After receiving treatment and being given the all clear, Gail took redundancy from her position and decided that she wanted to pursue her dream of having her own business.

She contacted Alt Valley Community Trust earlier in the year and started working with the Enterprise Hub team, receiving one to one support. Gail got help with completing her business plan, putting together her financial forecast so she could decide if her idea was viable. She was also signposted to banking, loan and website services and undertook training in keeping records for tax. 

Gail was relieved to know that there was assistance for her at the early stages of start-up. She said: “If it wasn’t for the help that was available through the Enterprise Hub, I wouldn’t have known how to get started, where to go for a website or what prices to charge, I am really grateful for the service I received.”

Alt Valley Trust are a partner of Enterprise Hub. Based in North Liverpool, their work helps some of the most disadvantaged communities in Merseyside. They have a business support team that works with new and growing small businesses to help them secure employment and take on staff.

Monday, 12 March 2018

First Steps To Taking Your Business Online

Social Media can be a great free tool to use when it comes to marketing your business and engaging with your customers. Taking your business online can be a scary thought if you're unsure about what you're about to get yourself into. Here are 5 things to think about when preparing yourself to take the jump and go online. 

How confident are you using social media?
If you’re going to get the best out of your social media accounts, it’s important that you have a basic understanding of how social media works. If you don’t feel the most confident then it’s time to start getting some research in about what you’re going to be using. You could start reading a social media blog online or even find some free workshops. If you don’t feel like you have the time or interest in finding out more then it might be in your companies interest to hire someone who will thrive in this.

Find what social media platform is right for you
The benefits social media can have on a business can be massive, which makes it easy to panic and think you must sign up to every single social media account available. Whilst one social media platform might be working well for one company, it might not turn out the same for you. It’s all about finding what tools are going to work for you. If you run a finance company then chances are your audience isn't going to be on Instagram, whereas if you run a baked goods start up the visual aspect of Instagram could be a beneficial tool.

Who is your target audience?
You should be trying to tailor the type of content you’re putting out there to what your target audience wants to see. Who is your target audience? This is for you to work out, you need to sit down, think about your service or product and who will be the primary person you’ll be selling to. Finding your target audience won’t just mean you’re engaging your audience a lot more but also will save you time when it comes to thinking about the type of content you want to create.

Monitor your presence
The biggest mistake people make is producing a lot of content for social media without monitoring what they are getting back from it. Facebook and Twitter offer some free and easy analytic tools that will allow you to see the basis engagement you are receiving from your content. The analytic tools will help you see which type of content popular and what content people might not be seeing.

Keep engaging
Creating content can sometimes be a challenge but once you find yourself in the swing of things it’s important that you continue to engage your audience by posting regularly. People follow you because they are interested in your business and what you have to say. You don’t have to be a master on Photoshop to produce content but it’s really important that the content you do find yourself posting is updated often. You can use tools like Google Alerts that follow your industry news which is also a good way of keeping yourself audience but also yourself in the loop. 

Friday, 9 March 2018

Three Mothers Making A Difference With Their Business

Hannah, Jo and Terri are all parents with autistic children and they were all too aware of the challenges that exist in accessing support and information in addition to the provision of activities to stimulate development and social interaction.

They are passionate about ensuring that other parents in a similar position and also carers can enhance their children’s lives through accessing the right educational support through working with parents who fully understand through their own personal experiences.

They decided it was important to set up an organisation in Liverpool to facilitate support, networking, activities and events to raise awareness of autism however they were unsure how to go about it.

Following a conversation with their local councillor in Norris Green, Barry Kushner, Jo Hannah and Terri met with Business Advisor Ian Marshall from the Enterprise Hub team at Alt Valley Community Trust.

Following the initial meeting, the three partners were enrolled onto the programme attending workshops in addition to the one to one support from their Business Advisor. They benefitted from Alt Valley’s workshops on subjects including ‘Starting your own Business’, ‘How to set up a social Enterprise’ ‘How to Market your Business’, ‘Social Media for Business’ and ‘Setting up a WordPress website’.

Given the community and social values, it was agreed that the business would be established as a Community Interest Company which offers a flexible approach to managing a social enterprise. In addition, such a business has the potential to apply for grant funding in order to enhance its support services. Alt Valley assisted Jo, Hannah and Terri through the application process and ‘Autism in Motion Liverpool CIC’ was incorporated in January 2017.

They are delighted with the support they have received from Alt Valley Community Trust which has helped them access grant funding through the National Lottery's ‘Unlimited’ fund in addition to other sources.

The company is now renting office space and continues to grow through enhanced activities for children, presentations and events for parents and carers.

On Sunday 2nd April – World Autism Day - the directors organised an event in Norris Green Park which was a huge success. The aim was to raise awareness of autism through providing information and partnering with other organisations to enhance health and wellbeing. There was also entertainment, craft and gift stalls and it was very well attended, exceeding all expectations!

Hannah said: "We started Autism in Motion because we realised through our own experience that there was very little support for families like our own in the north part of the city. We began with monthly coffee mornings for parents and occasional activities to engage with the whole family. Six months later demands of the business mean that we have now increased our parent meetings to twice a month with guest speakers, specialist courses and activities for the children and their siblings six days a week. It's amazing!! "

Terri said: "We were looking for a way that we could bring all of the specialist services together in one place for our families to be able to access the support that they may need. From this idea ‘picnic in the park’ was born. We liaised with local and more experienced community groups, councillors and council officers to hold an Autism awareness event in Norris Green Park on April 2nd to celebrate world autism day. The event was a huge success with more than 500 people from the local and wider community joining us for a fabulous day. We were completely overwhelmed by the turnout.

"Joanne said: "I can’t believe how far we’ve come already, when we first met Ian we were just a couple of mums with a vague idea of what we wanted to do but no clue about how to do it. With the guidance and support we have received from Ian and the rest of the team we are now a viable business. we have new families coming to us weekly and we love seeing the impact the support and activities have on them, its just wonderful."

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Jekaterina's Appetite for Business Led to Setting up Royal Pizza with help from MEH

Jekaterina sought support from Merseyside Expanding Horizons through our Enterprise Hub Programme to set up a restaurant business.  Jeketerina had no prior business experience but had a vast amount of experience working in restaurants waitressing and had managed takeaways.  Jeketerina had been absent from the labour market for a while as she has a young family, which was her motivation to start her own business to provide her with the flexibility she requires.

Jekaterina worked intensively with MEH to explore her options and after doing so decided to abandon the restaurant idea and set up a takeaway business as that seemed a better fit.  MEH supported her to produce a concise, strong and logical business plan and Cash Flow Forecast which was used to secure £25,000 Start-up funding to launch her business.

After tirelessly researching and viewing locations for the takeaway spanning the Liverpool City Region, Jeketerina and MEH found the ideal location in Norris Green.  Jeketerina has named her business Royal Pizza and has opened for business January 2018.  Jeketerina shared that the support that MEH via Enterprise Hub has been invaluable and gave her the confidence to launch her own business to provide a better future for her and her family.  

If you have an idea for a business and would like to receive advice and support to get started contact our team on 0151 706 8113.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Jayne's Story - How One Woman Won Back Her Confidence

After completing my A Levels in 2012 I took a year away from education to decide what I really wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go straight into employment so started applying for lots of jobs. I then saw what I thought was my dream job, a commercial traineeship at Nestle. This position was a three-year scheme where you would spend six months in four different areas of the business, before specialising in the final year, at the same time as studying for a degree in business. This sounded so exciting to me and I knew I had to apply.

I couldn't believe the day I was accepted onto the course, so in September 2013 I moved to York to start my new adventure.

Thinking about my first couple of months at Nestle still makes my heart flutter with excitement. I was having the best time I could ever imagine. Each morning I would walk to work with the smell of chocolate filling the air; every day I was learning new things, meeting new people and seeing myself grow as a person. I was confident, bubbly and simply the happiest I had been.

My first six months I was based in Supply Chain. I was responsible for arranging shipment of chocolate all around the world. One day during a meeting, I stood up and suddenly collapsed. This was the start of a huge downward spiral.

I was off work for two weeks. During this time, I visited doctors and specialists to try and figure out what was happening. I was longing to get back to work and my normal life, so went back to work and tried to carry on like nothing had happened. This didn't work at all. Over the next six months my body became weaker and weaker. It all led up to one day when I realised I just couldn't carry on like this anymore. My eight-minute walk to work took nearly an hour, I slumped into my chair and just burst into tears. This was my last day at Nestle. I was sent straight to the doctor who instructed me to move back to Liverpool immediately, so I could be cared for full time.

At this point, I still had no idea what was wrong with me. Every joint and muscle was in constant pain, I couldn't stand without going dizzy and I had no energy – and I mean this in the true sense of the word. I couldn't shower, I couldn't brush my teeth and my brain had started to lose function. I couldn't read, watch TV and struggled to hold a conversation.

A few weeks later I was diagnosed with ME – Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. It was such a relief to finally have an answer – but that relief was cut short when I was told there was no medical cure.
The next three years were incredibly tough. Although there is no medical cure for ME, I was told that over time, if I gradually increased what I do, I could get an enjoyable life back.

I had gone from living life at 100 miles an hour, to a life of being housebound. It was like being the hare stuck in the tortoises’ body but I was determined to gain back some independence.

I saw a physio each week and worked so hard over the years to gain back my strength. I progressed from a wheelchair, to a walking stick, to my own wobbly two feet.

At the start of 2016 I felt physically ready to start working part-time again. For all the days I had been stuck in bed, unable to move, I would dream of the idea of running my own creative business from home so I could manage work around my health. But despite feeling well enough physically, mentally I was left defeated. After being confined to four walls for so much time, I had lost all confidence in myself. I didn't believe I would be able to start a business myself, and that's when I went to The Prince's Trust for help.

The Prince's Trust said: 

Jayne approached Prince's Trust in April 2016 with an interest in the Enterprise programme. She was unsure whether she would be able to attend the four day Exploring Enterprise Course in its entirety due to suffering from ME and dizziness, but she wanted to find out more about setting up a business.

It was agreed that Jayne should take each day as it comes, with the likelihood that she would be too exhausted to attend all four days.

To Jayne's surprise, she did manage to attend all four days. She thoroughly enjoyed learning about business planning, research and meeting other young people also planning their business. Following on from the course, Jayne completed the Level 1 Enterprise Qualification.

Jayne said although the prospect of setting up a business at this stage seemed daunting and beyond her physical capabilities due to the ME, being involved in the Enterprise Course gave her the determination to at least test her strength and determination.

The young person the Trust started to work with in May 2016 is certainly not the young person she is today. Jayne has surpassed all expectations and achieved so much in a relatively short time. The future ahead for Jayne is one of opportunities and potential, less defined by ME and more defined by Jayne's passion, determination and the love of her creative business.

Prior to the Prince's Trust, Jayne had completed a short course using a Laser cutter in a creative way. Jayne knew going forward she would be unable to hold down a full time 9 to 5 job, but she wanted to be productive and earn an income. She decided setting up her own Laser cutting business could be the way forward.

Working with Jayne has been about managing what she was able to do on her good days to progress and allowing her to rest on her less good days. As time went on, Jayne noticed an improvement in her condition. On many occasions she said she felt more in control of her future now than she had done in the previous 2 years.

Prince's Trust awarded Jayne a £600 grant via the "Printing Charity" grant. Jayne and her parents funded the purchase of the Laser Cutting machine. The £600 was used for stock materials, packaging and some creative office equipment.

Since then ‘Jayne Tapp Designs’ has gone from strength to strength. A Business Launch Panel were very impressed by her products, but could also see in Jayne's tears just how difficult her journey had been.

Jayne is now selling lovely wooden, personalised gift items through Etsy, Not On The High Street.Com and The Prince's Trust Tomorrow's Store. She continues to look for new opportunities and markets. All of Jayne's products are designed to help people celebrate the special places and relationships in their lives. 

Jayne started by selling on Etsy in October 2016, with an initial goal of making 20 sales by the end of the year. By 2017, she had made 100 sales. This gave her the confidence to then pitch her product to the gift website Not On The High Street. She was successful and in less than one week of being on the website, had sold over 60 Mother's Day gifts over a space of two days. Following on from this, one of her wooden wedding cards was featured at a Not On The High Street Wedding Event in London, where key journalists and industry experts were in attendance.

Jayne also donated of of her products to a Princes Trust fundraising event in Liverpool, which generated £325.

In the past six months she has had nearly 500 orders; from personalised dog bones, maps of wedding venues, boxes filled with “reasons I love you”, to hundreds of name places for weddings. 

Jayne said: "There was a point where becoming ill felt like the end of the world. It took me a long time to realise that it isn't. It's just the start of a brand new one. 

"I am so grateful that I have been able to remodel my life into something that I can manage around my health, whilst still having a huge sense of achievement. The past six months have been the happiest and most exciting six months of my life and I can't wait to see what happens next!"

Prince's Trust are an Enterprise Hub partner, they specialise in helping young people across Merseyside reach their goals and realise their potential. Visit their website here for more information.