We caught up with Enterprise Manager Jane Purdy to find out more about her role and how she and her team can help businesses in Somerset to start and grow.
Tell us a bit about yourself; your role as a Business Adviser and your career background?
I have been helping SME businesses for the last 20 years and also ran my own business for 12 years.
My career started in banking, actually, which is where I developed most of my financial and business skills. After leaving the banking world, I joined City of Bristol College as a Business Adviser using the NVQ Level 3 Business Startup as the vehicle to deliver the support.
I then became a programme manager for the NVQ Business Startup Level 3 and also wrote a certification for OCR VQ Level 2 - Considering starting a business. So I’m well versed in business!
Tell us about your business?
At the same time, being the entrepreneurial person I am, I set up my own business with a friend delivering craft workshops through retail premises. We started off with one shop, then quickly expanded to two premises within 18 months of opening and opened a third two years later.
We had five employees, over 4000 product lines and imported goods from Europe, America and the Far East. I found running my own business for 12 years I gained a lot of actual experience which definitely benefits the businesses that I work with. I decided to return to being a full time Business Adviser around three years ago as this is a role that I have always enjoyed.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy helping others to achieve their business goals, through developing their objectives and creating a successful strategy. For example, its great when a business you have been working with tells you that in that time their turnover has increased by 40%. The way that they focus on the business is different from what it would have been without your support. This is what I enjoy!
And what are the most challenging aspects of your job?
In this department, we mainly offer funded support which requires a trail of paperwork to validate the support delivered. It is sometimes challenging to a business receiving the support to understand the importance of the paperwork being completed correctly and to be involved in any surveys that might be required.
What help and support are your team able to offer Somerset start-ups as part of your role?
My team and I, including Business Adviser Sian Davies, help pre-start ups and start up businesses in Somerset to develop their business idea and focus on creating a business and marketing plan. I always help with all sorts of startup issues and questions that normally arise; things like the legal structure of the business, what intellectual property they need, as well as factors a new business owner might not be aware of like cyber security, and the presence of an environmentally conscious way to trade.
What would you say the essentials skills are to start and run a business?
A passion for what you want to do and determination. If you don’t have the commitment to work more hours than when you were employed (especially at the beginning) it probably is not the path for you. It is definitely important to write a business plan that includes everything you need to run your business. In the business plan it should include a full marketing plan so that you understand who your target customer is going to be. This helps you to create a good sales forecast which will help you to create a cashflow forecast. This will help you to focus on whether the business will need investment and at what point. It helps you to then monitor the income as you start the business. Planning is key.
What considerations does a new business have to make towards the environment?
It is a great time to start looking at your business idea and consider what you can include to help your business to become sustainable. If there are any costs involved in making sustainable choices at the start, so that you can build the costs into your pricing. You can look at what suppliers you are going to use and are they local so this will reduce the carbon footprint in the supply of your services or products. It will also have a financial impact on your local community. Employing people that are local to your business will reduce the travelling time and Carbon footprint as well. When choosing finance for your business you can decide to use a lender who has strong Green values. These are some of the areas that you can include in your Green policy that will form part of your business plan. A business with a good sustainable policy on average can charge 33% more for it goods or services when it has an positive impact on the environment.
What would be your top tip to anyone wanting to start their own business?
Create a business doing what you love! And get all the help you can get from business support providers such as ourselves.
Find out more
If you have any questions about the Start-Up Support Package, the individual workshops, or the 1-2-1 business support, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our expert team.