Thursday, 31 October 2019

Smiles all round for Julie and the Dental Hygiene Studio

After over two decades working as a dental hygienist, Julie Fisher decided it was time to take the plunge and launch her own studio.

Working with our partners at The Women’s Organisation Julie launched The Dental Hygiene Studio earlier this year – Wirral’s very first drop-in dental hygienist studio.

We caught up with Julie to find out the story behind her business and how things are going so far…

They do things a little differently at the Dental Hygiene Studio.

A recent change in the law means that you no longer have to see the hygienist at your own dental practice - you can see a hygienist of your choice anytime, anywhere.

This was a business opportunity Julie didn’t want to miss out on. She says: “With today’s busy lifestyles, it can be quite difficult to book and appointment with the dentist, then wait for another appointment with the hygienist, so we wanted to do things a bit differently.”

As well as booking people in for set appointments, Julie and the team offer walk-ins too. Meaning it will be much more convenient for people to fit in around work, childcare and other aspects of our busy day-to-day life.

Julie Fisher, founder of the Wirral's
first drop-in dental hygiene studio
So, where did the journey begin for The Dental Hygiene Studio?

Having qualified as a dental hygienist with the army back in 1996, Julie has long had a passion for helping people with their dental health.

When the dentist she was working alongside announced her retirement last year, Julie found herself at a crossroads in her career.

Seeing similar services open in the North West and with her youngest son due to start high school, giving her more time to devote to the business idea, Julie began to wonder if the time was right for her to take the plunge.

She says: “I was inspired and intrigued about whether or not it would be a possible business idea for me too. I did lots of market research and with the help and guidance of Enterprise Hub, I finally decided it was something I couldn’t put off any longer.”

Things started to fall in place from there.

Julie tells us there’s quite a story behind finding her venue in her home town Wallasey: “My husband and I had been out for a few viewings and having seen nothing suitable we were on our way home. We were sat at some pedestrian lights just around the corner from where we lived and we both looked across at this quite derelict corner shop which had been empty for about 10 years. I said to my husband, Andy, ‘it’s a shame we can’t have that really isn’t it? It would’ve been perfect’.

Before! The derelict shop before Julie and Andy transformed it
“I decided to walk round and ask the shop next door if he knew who owned it and if they wanted to sell? He said ‘as far as I know, she’s not interested in selling, but I’ve got her number if you’d like it?’  So, I rang the owner and she said that she wasn’t interested in selling, so I thought that was that. We went on looking for a few weeks but still couldn’t find anything suitable, so I decided to ring her back. To my utter surprise, she said she’d given it lots of thought since our first conversation and she was happy to sell to us!”

Thanks to support from her husband Andy, who is a chartered building surveyor, Julie was able to tackle the building work – not to mention the tree growing up through the brickwork - and create the perfect venue for her business.

And after! The Dental Hygiene studio today

And their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed in the community.

Julie says: “It’s been such a transformation that local residents have asked to come and have a look as we’ve been renovating. We have a photobook of the renovations in the waiting room so share our journey with patients.”

Julie and husband Andy celebrating the opening of The Dental Hygiene Studio

As with any new entrepreneur just setting out in business, Julie wasn’t without her doubts.

She says: “After 24 years’ experience I’m most comfortable in my scrubs treating patients and although I’ve been self-employed, I’ve never had a business to run. I’ve never been ‘a boss’ before or even had to manage staff.

“Not only that, but securing the funding, doing a business plan, sorting out change of use for the premises and planning permission were all things that needed to be organised. It’s been such an exciting and exhilarating experience so far, but there have been days I’ve wondered what I was thinking!”

Accessing support from The Women’s Organisation, through the Enterprise Hub programme, meant that Julie was able to work with the team of expert business advisors to turn this idea into a reality.

Speaking about the support she received, Julie says: “Quite simply, without the Enterprise Hub programme, I wouldn’t be in this position now. The help and support from the programme is incredible. I walked into my advisor Claire’s office and didn’t know where to start. I was anxious, nervous and quite unsure of myself. I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t know how to start doing it.

“Attending various courses helped me to gain more practical knowledge, and Claire and I sat for hours and hours tweaking my business plan until it was perfectly right. With Claire’s help and dogged determination, I was finally in a position where I felt ready to embark on such a daunting process.”

Julie also worked with Enterprise Enabler, Ali McGrath. Julie says: “Ali is a force of nature! Her enthusiasm is infectious, and she absolutely gets things done. Her knowledge, contacts and genuine love for what she does is easy to see. She is funny and kind and reassured me beyond belief. She organised me, advised me and basically I feel she ‘held my hand’ through the whole process.”

What Julie has created with this support is today a friendly, professional and ethical dental hygiene studio, providing patients with an outstanding level of care in a modern and accessible way.

Julie at work in the studio
So, what advice would Julie give to someone looking to start a business? She says: “Start-up advice is invaluable. I remember Bernie, who ran a start-up course I attended, said that businesses who take start up advice are much less likely to fail in their first year. I can honestly see why. If I have any concerns, questions or things I’m unsure of, The Women’s Organisation is always my first point of contact!”

Understandably, Julie is very proud of what she’s achieved so far and she explains that the venture has been very family orientated so far, helping her to achieve that work-life balance she’s always wanted.

So, what’s next for Julie and the Dental Hygiene Studio? Julie says: “The plan for the future is to grow into the upper floors of the building to include a dentist, a periodontist and an implantologist to become a specialist centre of excellence. After that, maybe world domination!”

You can find The Dental Hygiene Studio online at and the team are also on Facebook, twitter and Instagram. If you’d like to get in touch you can call 0151 6397 939.

If you have a business idea you’d like to explore and are based in the Liverpool City Region, then get in touch to see what fully-funded support might be available to you. You can reach us on 0151 706 8113 or e-mail

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Wayfarers Travel on an upward path thanks to St Helens Chamber

Business plan drives growth of mini-bus hire company in year one of trading.

With a passion for sport and in particular his beloved Aston Villa, Wayfarers Travel Director John Morris knows plenty about getting from A to B on time.

For over a decade, John had been organising transportation for friends to and from various sporting events, including regular trips down to Birmingham for the North West Lions club.  

It was his enjoyment of organising these trips and driving his fellow passengers to various events, that gave John the idea of owning and operating his own travel business. However, with the commitment of a full-time job, John recognised that there were some barriers to overcome when starting his own company and that he needed some professional advice on how to plan his next move.

Looking for expert support and a sounding board for his business idea, John approached St Helens Chamber.

John commented: “I knew it was really important that the business had a plan, and I needed to work out if my business idea was feasible before committing to it.  Working with Steve Mather at St Helens Chamber, we put together a detailed business strategy that looked at finance, marketing and business administration and as a result, Wayfarers Travel was born.”

Initially running the business part-time, alongside his day job, the plan produced in conjunction with St Helens Chamber enabled John to gain his PSV Operators Licence, as well as acquiring his first 16 seater mini-bus.

Focusing on minibus hire for nights out, sporting events and airport runs, Wayfarer Travel has been steadily growing in its first year of trading, with John supplementing his business knowledge via various courses run at the Chamber.

John continued: “The support I’ve received from St Helens Chamber has been essential.The demand for our service has increased so much that I’m delighted to announce that as from December this year the business will be full-time.

“Without support, it would have been really difficult to transition from being employed to running my own company. It’s been challenging, but equally, it’s immensely rewarding to think the hard work is paying off and I’m doing something I love.”

As well as his core areas of business, John is keen to work more in the education sector, with local schools being made aware of Wayfarers Travel, in particular transportation for school sports teams and tournaments.

Steve Mather, Business Start up Adviser at St Helens Chamber commented:
“It’s great news that John is taking Wayfarers Travel full-time and this is a testament to his hard work and dedication. His business can certainly look forward to a bright future.”

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 Wayfarers Travel, visit or contact John Morris on 07751 000115.

For more information about the support available from St Helens Chamber to start or grow a new business, call 0845 340 9980 or email

Enterprise Hub support is available across the Liverpool City Region. For anyone outside of the St Helens area, please contact Enterprise Hub directly on 0151 706 8113, or e-mail to find out about the support in your area. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

All systems are go for Gavin's business - thanks to a little help from Wirral Chamber!

Working with our Enterprise Hub partners at Wirral Chamber of Commerce, Gavin received the start-up support to get his business, GUI Compus Ltd, off the ground. 

Thanks to this support, Gavin's business is today helping businesses manage change through the provision and simplification of IT systems and processes. Here's how it all began...

If Gavin Crompton has learned anything from his 20 years in IT and project management, it’s that change can bring risk … and opportunity!  And it’s this ethos that has equipped Gavin with the skills to not only tackle important changes in his own life, but to start a company that can help other businesses do the same! GUI Compus Ltd is all about helping businesses to manage change effectively.

Heidi and Paul from Wirral Chamber of Commerce with Gavin (centre)

So, where did this appetite for change begin? Well, it all started at Plessey’s in Speke. 

It was here that Gavin first cut his teeth dealing with the early incarnations of information technology and rather large computerised assembly equipment! He also developed a keen eye for detail and a fascination with technology and systems which shaped his career from then on.  

From here, he became heavily involved in supporting ‘transformational change’ in the motor industry, working for companies such as Toyota, before moving down South to work for Johnson Controls, a supplier to Ford Motor Company.  Moving back to Wirral, he then decided on a career change, working in the social housing sector for many years until the opportunity came to take redundancy and pursue fresh challenges. 

In taking calculated risks at every crossroads, Gavin has taken control of his career along the way, treating every opportunity as a chance to grow and acquire new skills.  And this has led to his most exciting and challenging opportunity to date – the chance to start his own company, GUI Compus Ltd!

So, how can GUI Compus Ltd support your business? Well, in a nutshell, it can provide a whole range of change-management solutions through the ‘provision and simplification of IT systems and processes.’ From initial diagnostics to product development and implementation, GUI Compus Ltd can help your business to optimise and streamline its IT and systems/processes to not only promote effective change but to enable your business to flourish whilst doing so!        

Gavin is quick to concede he needed help in forming his company along the way. “There’s hidden treasure and always something new to be learned,” he said, crediting the support he received from Wirral Chamber of Commerce for adding structure to the chaos and complications associated with setting up a new venture. 

And he encourages others to “not be afraid of change, but to take the knocks and expect the unexpected, as tenacity gets you to where you want to be!”

If you would like to find out more about how GUI Compus Ltd can help your business manage change and grow effectively, contact Gavin at: or

And if you have an idea for a business and would like some advice and support contact Enterprise Hub via 0151 706 8113 or

Enterprise Hub is part funded by European Regional Development Fund and free to access for those living in Liverpool City Region looking for support to start a business, or running a business locally that is up to 3 years old and ready to grow.

Back Her Business: Supporting female entrepreneurs starting new businesses through crowdfunding

The Women's Organisation are hosting a 'Back Her Business' event with Crowdfunder, to show you how together with NatWest, they can help you raise money for your new business through the power of crowdfunding.

What's more, if you're a new female-led business which has not yet crossed an annual turnover of £1,000, then you could be eligible for a special grant funding opportunity from NatWest to receive up to £5,000 for your business!*

This session is for new or young female-led businesses who have not yet crossed an annual turnover of £1,000 at the point of application.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Think you're ready to GROW your business? 📈

So, you think you're ready to GROW your business. But how do you really know? 

Growth can mean different things to different businesses. For some, it can simply mean that they want to increase their sales turnover, profits, or their share in the market. For others, it might look like taking on more staff or even expanding into offering new products or services. Another example of a growing business is one that's ready to increase its physical presence with more premises or shop outlets, while those selling online might look at increasing their virtual presence.

As you can see, growth can take many forms.  

But how do you know you are ready to grow YOUR business? Here are some ways to tell...

  • You have regular repeat customers that proves your product or service is of a good quality and, most importantly, in demand! This gives you a stable base to grow your business from.
  • Your customers WANT you to grow. Perhaps they've been asking for more products or services form you, or even more of your time.
  • If your industry is growing, now might be a good time and low risk opportunity for you to grow with it. Are there any new products or services you could offer?
  • You actually have too much business! Perhaps you have more business than you can handle at the moment and risk over trading. Now might be a good time to take on staff to help you grow sustainable.
  • You are stuck at a certain turnover and want to increase it - now is the time to get a serious growth plan in place.

This might be a daunting prospect for some business owners, but the key thing to remember is that growing your business is about working smarter, not harder. 

It is about thinking outside of the box and putting new ideas into action to get your business to the next level faster.

So, how do our team of experienced business growth advisors work out the best route to grow your business?

  1. We simply look at where your business is currently at through our unique business diagnostic methods.
  2. We listen to what your growth ambitions are and where you realistically want your business to    be in the next 12-36 months.
  3. We then work out a realistic and achievable strategic plan to achieve your growth ambitions as   quickly as possible.
Here's our client Cheryl Grogan, founder of AJ's Playdays, on how we helped her to scale-up her business...

If you are a female-led business based in the Liverpool City Region which has been trading for under 42 months and you'd like to explore how we can help you achieve your business growth ambitions, then we could help!

Our partners at The Women’s Organisation are running a series of Grow & Thrive Business Masterclasses to help you GROW. 

These are:

When & How to Take on Staff 

Tuesday 8th October, 10am - 1pm, at 54 St James Street

Here's how we helped our client Laura Richardson, founder of The Beauty of Business, get to the stage of taking on her first employee...

Master your Sales & Marketing strategy

Wednesday 16th October, 10am - 1pm, at 54 St James Street.

We worked with Claire Morton, founder of Ell & Dee Consultants, to refine her marketing strategy and brand...

If you'd like to speak to a member of our team to find out more about the support on offer, please contact us at or 0151 706 8113.