Ambition for growth
"Big ambition, huge potential"
- The Newark and Sherwood district has been recognised as Growth Point by Government
- We have readily available commercial property at competitive rates
- Our commercial space growth rates are higher than the national average
The Business Support Programme was a new joint initiative launched by Business Doctors and Invest Newark & Sherwood. It consisted of a 16 week course created to help entrepreneurs in the district create actionable strategic plans which focussed on delivering business growth.
12 local business owners, all in their first 3 years of trading, were enrolled. Throughout the programme they were provided with the knowledge and support they needed to make sure their businesses developed firm foundations and were ready to advance to the next level.
I worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years, then spent another 20 in the world of Public Sector IT. I knew I wanted to get back to working with food as I have always loved cooking and was excited to get other people cooking too.
I decided to open a Cookery School when a contract I was working on ended. Opening was scheduled for the end of March 2020 although of course, that didn’t happen. I wasn’t able to open until late September, then 5 weeks later I closed again for another lockdown. I was seriously considering my options when I learned about the Business Support Program at an online meeting of Newark Business Club.
I applied because I thought I had nothing to lose; it would only cost me my time and because I wasn’t open, I had lots of it. I am so glad I did; the people I met, the knowledge gained, and the support provided over those 16 weeks have been invaluable.
Every session we had access to someone with specialist knowledge in their field (such as HR, GDPR or tech) and the option to have a further discussion with them. The fortnightly one-to-ones with our business coaches, David or Michael, were brilliant, even if it sometimes felt like a talk with the headmaster! Having your thoughts and decisions probed by an expert is tough, but absolutely necessary if you want to make a success of your business.
I am now open once again, starting to grow my business, and putting into practice what I learned during the program. I can now understand my market, identify my objectives, plan out the year ahead and properly scrutinise finances and costs.
The cookery school is doing well and I have a number of courses available. Currently I am planning a new course for complete beginners - those who can even burn water. Eventually I hope to have a mix of courses teaching practical everyday knowledge and more advanced sessions teaching something you might not need but have always wanted to make, like jam or chutney. Making edible presents for Christmas will also feature!
Discover more on the Sue’s Kitchen website
Away Day beers was born on a cold February night in 2018. While watching my beloved Ipswich Town lose I noticed the funky craft beer names on offer at the bar, and remember saying to my friends, “wouldn’t it be great to order a pint of Boncho”? Boncho was an ex-Ipswich player who played in the 90’s. As an avid football fan, the idea of him in beer form, as well as the potential for other football themed beers, became engrained in my head.
I had no background in brewing so I pitched my idea to different breweries across the country to work out if it was possible to get Away Days off the ground. Pheasantry Brewery at East Markham were the first to help, offering me great beer and insight into the industry.
At first, Away Days was very much a hobby. I had a good concept, but I was still working full-time as Education Lead at a mental healthcare hospital. In February 2020 I discovered I would be made redundant, and ultimately decided to give Away Days my full-time attention.
In October 2020, Away Days became my main focus, with the opportunity to attend the BSP arriving soon after. The timing was perfect as I had realised there were huge holes in my business knowledge: Cashflow? Marketing? Sales? I left every learning session having learned something that helped improve Away Days.
Being a one-man band, it can be very lonely at times, however the BSP sessions were a breath of fresh air. Sitting with, learning from, and chatting to other business owners helped me realise I wasn’t alone in the daily struggles of running a small business.
The group and mentor sessions have provided me with great foundations to move Away Days forwards. My business has come a long way in a short time, and on low days I remind myself of all the new Away Days fans enjoying the beer and concept, including football legends such as Alan Shearer and Chris Kamara.
Now the Euros have finished, I will reflect on what worked well and not so well through the tournament for Away Days, before planning the next step. This will include a monthly subscription service, something that will bring more stability on a cash flow and stock management front, and also help to get more fans of Away Days involved in growing the business.
Find out more on the Away Days Beer website.
Nicola Hunt, founder of EMCC Physiocare Rehab Ltd, said:
“I want to thank you for the opportunity of being on the business support programme, and all that I have learnt on this, which has given me the confidence to make this possible”
Read four ‘good news’ stories from the Business Support Programme - including Nicola’s.
As a result of getting a place on the Business Support Programme I am delighted to be putting into practice all the skills I have learnt and opening a physiotherapy clinic in Newark.
Two years ago I established Physiocare Rehab Ltd, after many years of being part time self-employed while also working for the NHS. I specialise in treating people with neurological and vestibular conditions and have so far been providing treatment at their homes. Working in the community as a sole practitioner I could get by with limited business skills, however I realised I was lacking in the skills needed to develop my business further.
The Business Support Programme has provided comprehensive training in so many skills including finance and cash flow, digital and marketing, sales, systems and IT. As well as the fantastic education sessions there are fortnightly one-to-ones to make sure the course was personalised toward me and the development of my business.
Through the Support Programme I gained a deep understanding of cash flow and the finances of my business. This gave me the confidence to expand my business and establish a physiotherapy clinic in Newark’s Aura Business Centre, which will open in June. This will provide assessment and treatment for people with neurological and vestibular conditions, including a specialist concussion clinic.
The knowledge I have gained from the Support Programme has made me confident that I have the skills to market the clinic, make it a success, and expand the business to have several therapists working there.
I am looking forward to providing a much needed Physiotherapy service within my Newark clinic, which has been made possible by all I have learnt from the Business Support Programme.
Up to date information about this new clinic is available at www.physiocarerehab.co.uk
Originally based from my conservatory, I launched Janice Rose Lingerie to address the requirements of those who cannot, or do not, have access to professionally fitted bras. As of 2021, such a basic item of clothing is still not easily accessible for those with certain health issues, such as women who have had breast surgery, or those living in care homes, nursing homes and retirement villages. This cause is particularly close to my heart.
Within less than a year of trading, I opened the doors to my brand new shop. A former 140 square foot industrial unit was completely transformed into a showroom stocking a wide range of products.
I am also a trained mastectomy specialist and stockist of post-surgery bras. I visit care and nursing homes, residential complexes and breast cancer support groups, providing a mobile service for women who were unable to travel to a store or fitter. Pre-COVID, my mobile service took place three days per week, stretching across Nottinghamshire to Birmingham, Sheffield and Milton Keynes. Customers could browse, be professionally fitted, and purchase on the same day. The remaining days saw me provide one-to-one personal fittings at my showroom. This service now takes place on a full-time basis, until external visits can fully resume.
I have become the proud owner of several business awards. In November 2019, Janice Rose Lingerie was awarded one of ‘the most exciting start-ups’ in the national SJL Foundation awards, hosted at the Houses of Parliament. Janice Rose Lingerie also received special recognition at the Radio Newark 2019 Community Awards - in relation to my Gambia bra appeal of June 2019. This appeal collected donations of unwanted bras for females in West Africa. I then travelled Gambia alongside other charity volunteers and distributed the bras. In excess of 10,000 were donated, and we measured as many women and girls as possible to ensure they each had a well-fitting bra too.
The pandemic has been nothing short of challenging, presenting hurdles no business would have dreamed of encountering in its first year of trading. However, by re-shaping my market approach, digital presence and stock offering, I was able to continue serving existing customers while simultaneously gaining new ones.
The Business Support Programme couldn’t have come at a better time. It has been a fantastic opportunity to get to know likeminded entrepreneurs, share ideas and support each other. I have gained confidence and knowledge in areas such as legal requirements, finance and social media. I now feel more equipped to make business decisions.
Within the next five years, I plan to continue expanding my business knowledge and skills. I intend to recruit an administration assistant and qualified fitting staff to continue offering the showroom service, allowing me to focus on boosting business and increasing my customer base. I also plan to develop an educational offering for younger girls in schools, to drive sales and increase my younger customer market, making underwear accessible for everyone.
Learn more about the services on offer at https://www.janiceroselingerie.co.uk/
Back to Life Clinic began from my belief that people do not need to live in pain. I suffered from back pain since the age of 14, so I am aware of how much an impact constant discomfort can have on a person. The business name was chosen specifically - my mission is to free people from aches and pains so that they can get ‘back to life’, enabling them to live and enjoy their lives again.
The clinic was launched in March 2019 and was immediately successful thanks in part to wonderful support from the Newark Business Club community and the Newark Advertiser.
Support for charities and the local community is one of the key founding principles of Back to Life. I am pleased to say that so far I have raised over £4,000 in direct donations and gifts-in-kind for Children’s Bereavement Centre, Shaw Mind and Beaumond House (such as free treatments for staff). I hope to continue this in future.
Just one week after celebrating a successful first year, the clinic closed due to the Covid lockdown. I immediately changed to online ‘telehealth’ appointments, however the clinic was only able to begin on its path to recovery after re-opening in August 2020. The January 2021 lockdown then caused additional challenges and shifted my focus from developing the business towards simply delivering a service that was effective and safe.
The Business Resilience Programme came along at exactly the right time to help get me back on track. It provided incredibly useful and educational insights into the various business skills needed to run a successful company. For me, the most beneficial part of the scheme has been having access to my own personal mentor. This has helped me to identify, prioritise and undertake specific tasks for the improvement of my business. I am now much clearer on how I want the clinic to grow, and what I need to focus on to achieve that.
One specific task I was given was to ask for reviews. This led to some wonderful feedback from previous customers, as well as several new clients choosing Back to Life Clinic, resulting in my best monthly income for over 12 months. This has been extremely encouraging and has made me feel excited about the prospects of Back to Life for the year ahead.
To discover more about Back to Life, visit https://backtolifeclinic.co.uk/
At the start of October last year I was a Health & Safety manager for a global corporation, by the end of October I had been made redundant and looking towards ‘what’s next’. I had always thought about setting up my own business but the comfort of the corporate bubble and the daunting aspect of setting up on my own was always a deterrent.
February quickly came around and ideas were starting to flow. After transforming the ideas into a possible workable model, Easy Safety was born. Why set up Easy safety? Well, after seeing the impact COVID had on small businesses and looking at the cost of a Health & Safety Consultant, I defined my goal ‘to make Health & Safety a straightforward, affordable resource for Small Businesses in the local area’.
After completing some small business guidance sessions on the D2N2 network and joining Newark Business Club, I joined Michael and David on one of their very informative free sessions. The following day Michael approached me to see if I would like to participate in the Business Support Programme run by the Business Doctors and NSDC.
The sessions covered many areas of running a small business, from ‘what you need to do’ to ‘making you think about how to do it’. The programme really helps you learn from the past, focus on today, and reflect on the future. It is much more than 2 guys taking from PowerPoint slides.
April was my first ‘push my business month’; I got my first fabulous clients, sent out my first invoices, and received my first insight to if my business will work:
‘Here at Rorla Designs we were very happy with the customer service we received from Easy Safety. Mark the owner of the company made sure the Health and safety compliance check went as smooth and as straightforward as possible. Overall great service, efficient communication and very professional. Thanks Mark!’
This is only the start of my journey and there is still much hard work to do to make it a success, however the programme helped me map out what I need to do and I feel it has accelerated my business learning. The tools and networking provided by the Business Support Programme has helped me achieve what I have in these early days. Starting on your own can be a very daunting and lonely place, however talking to and sharing ideas with other business owners on the programme made it feel like I had my own support network, and friends with similar challenges that I can call or message at any time.
For more details on Easy Safety visit https://easysafety.info/
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01636 655260/01636 655277