Gloucestershire business support agency Start and Grow Enterprise is celebrating its fifth year with the news that it has given start-ups in the county 11,500 hours of support valued at more than £350,000.
The Gloucester Growth Hub-based agency has helped 1,200 new entrepreneurs and helped new businesses access grants worth £75,000.
The programme has provided this support for free to Gloucestershire residents, as it is fully-funded.
Start and Grow Enterprise is the only comprehensive and accessible business support programme in the county that offers specialised support for budding entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses.
Their training is delivered by local professionals and academics whose job is to equip aspiring business owners with the knowledge they need to launch their business.
As well as this expert training, Start and Grow Enterprise offer plenty of one-to-one support, the chance to apply for business coaching, and the opportunity to get a £1,000 grant to help remove obstacles to growing their business. This support has resulted in an average 10 per cent increase in turnover for early-stage businesses.
Often the most common issue is people lacking the confidence to make the leap into self-employment. “One of the joys of this job,” says Project Manager Charles Dodwell, “is to see people taking the step to realise their dreams and helping them to do that.”
They cover important topics, such as Marketing, Planning, Cash Flow Forecasting and many others essential to running a business.
“We don’t expect our clients to attend everything we do,” says Natalie Ferrari, the Client and Marketing Officer, “But everyone will have gaps in their knowledge, and these are what we aim to fill.”
Polly Pick, Director of Business Engagement and Partnership, says, “To have such an effective enterprise start-up programme in the county, working together with the exceptional academic talent we have at the University, is very promising for Gloucestershire’s future.”
Over these last two years, we have seen many people reflect on their life choices and have decided to use their skills to leave the corporate world and set up by themselves. They know their own field well, but need some help with how to turn this into a business.
Based at the Gloucester Growth Hub, at the University’s Oxstalls campus, Start and Grow Enterprise have forged close relationships with the students, showing them the possibilities of setting up as freelancers or entrepreneurs when they graduate.
“Many of the disciplines taught here offer opportunities for self-employment on graduation, such as photography, sports therapy or interior design, and we are here to offer the practical help they will need,” says Jess MacDonald, Student and Start-up Co-ordinator.
“Gloucestershire is a wonderful county, but could quite easily become a dormitory county which people travel from to larger cities nearby to work. Start and Grow Enterprise are proud to be part of the business success in the County that reverses this flow, encouraging more people to stay in the County and contribute to its economic growth.”