East Anglia: Record demand for NWES as more people seek to become their own boss
PUBLISHED: 11:31 15 August 2014
Why are more people in Suffolk choosing to change their life by becoming their own boss? Sarah Chambers speaks to regional enterprise agency NWES about the cultural shift and finds out about two entrepreneurs who decided to jump in and launch their own businesses.
Case study: Lawrence Farrow, 40, from Ipswich
When Lawrence Farrow was told he had a 50 / 50 chance of survival after doctors discovered he had a brain tumour, he couldn’t have imagined how dramatically his life could change.
Going from rock bottom to starting his own successful juicing business in Ipswich has been a journey full of ups and downs, but it is one he hopes others will find helpful.
When he was 27 Lawrence went through a serious operation to remove his tumour, and after a long stay in hospital he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. During his slow recovery, having previously been lean and fit, he experienced substantial weight gain. He was told by doctors that this was caused by the surgery and the medications he was taking and that he would have difficulty losing it.
At his lowest point, Lawrence knew he had to do something to improve his health and his quality of life. He explained: “I decided to book myself on to a health retreat, which is when I discovered plant-based eating and juicing. Over my three week stay my energy levels sky-rocketed, my blood sugar levels remained stable and I had lost a stone. I knew that I’d found something incredible.”
Over the next couple of years, he transformed his lifestyle, selling his microwave for a juicer and completing a 10K run (dressed as Father Christmas) in aid of the Pituitary Foundation. But there was still something missing, Lawrence was in and out of jobs and wasn’t feeling fulfilled.
“My friends and family had noticed so many positive changes in my health and weight through juicing that they began asking me to make juices for them. I would buy bottles and create handmade labels for them. This is when I had my light bulb moment; I could start my own business doing something I love!”
Lawrence did his research, but at the time he was out of work and struggled to find any support. He said: “I was amazed how little help there was. I was looking for advice about where to start and if there was any funding available to me. All I really wanted was to sit down with somebody who would listen and be helpful, but I continued to hit total dead ends.”
Then by chance he heard about NWES from the Chamber of Commerce and began meeting with a business adviser. “They not only listened but helped!” said Lawrence. “Their guidance helped me get where I am today and I only wish I had found out about them sooner.”
Now 40, Lawrence is known locally as “The Juice Guy” and runs The JuiceWorks on Foundry Lane in Ipswich. He is astounded at the changes he’s been through. “Every morning I wake up and look forward to what’s ahead. I wish there were more hours in the day! It’s fantastic that I get to share my passion for juicing and its life changing health benefits with more and more people.
“I can’t think of a more rewarding career than one where I can help others. My customers are great and the feedback I’ve been receiving is excellent, which makes it all worthwhile! I’m proud of what I do and I’m thrilled that I got a second chance at life.
“I’d encourage anyone thinking about starting a business to go for it with the help of organisations like Nwes. My motto is ‘make the rest of your life the best of your life’.”
Regional enterprise agency NWES has revealed that it is currently experiencing its highest demand ever, with an increasing number of people currently seeking advice and funding to start up their own business in Suffolk.
Kevin Horne, chief executive of NWES, which has enterprise centres in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Leiston, Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury, believes changing perceptions, the end of a “job for life” culture and the breakdown of barriers to innovation are the key factors behind a growing number of people choosing to pursue their own business dreams.
“Over the last 10 years we’ve provided free advice, support and funding to help create more than 4,500 new businesses and we’re currently experiencing the biggest demand we’ve ever seen,” he said.
“More and more people are choosing to take control of their own destiny by becoming entrepreneurs. While there can be many different motivations behind this, it usually comes down to people wanting to be their own boss and to benefit directly from their own hard work and effort.
Case study: Emily Fae Jackaman, 27 from Ipswich
photography studio for eight years, Emily Fae Jackaman began to feel like she needed a new challenge.
So, when she tied the knot in September last year and started to think ahead to family life, she made a “now or never” decision to start her own photography business – and she did it all in the same month as her wedding!
“It was something that I had aspired to do for some time,” says Emily, 27, from Ipswich. “In my previous job there was no higher position to strive towards and I’m the type of person who likes challenges. So last year, being the year of my marriage and my life moving forward, I thought to myself, it’s now or never!”
Shortly after her wedding day, Photography by Emily Fae was launched and now sees the young newlywed shoot everything from weddings and portraits, to events and anything else that catches her creative eye.
Just eight months on from establishing the business, Emily is already enjoying the fruits of her labour. She says: “After such a short time, I have been so honoured and so proud of the many jobs I’ve been asked to do. To be the one entrusted with capturing something that is very precious and important to each individual is something really special.”
Discussing the highs of owning her own business, Emily reveals it’s the diversity and flexibility of the job that she really loves.
“You never know what kind of enquiry you’re going to get,” she says. “Recently I was asked to photograph and design a book cover for a very talented writer, and next year I’m photographing a wedding in Thailand! It’s a job that allows me to travel and experience new things, but also gives me the option to spend more time at home when my husband and I decide to start a family.”
However, while the young photographer’s creativity came naturally in the new venture, she welcomed guidance and support from NWES to develop her ideas into a working business.
She explained: “I am very much a person with multiple ideas buzzing around my head all at once, as a lot of creative people are. But bookkeeping, tax returns and business planning are just a few of the things that don’t come naturally to me. My adviser has talked me through all these things…several times!”
As well as helping with the logistics of setting up a business, Emily says NWES also provided a much needed confidence boost.
“After talking over my ideas, they inspired me and really focussed my mind on what I wanted to achieve,” she says.
“After every meeting I left feeling enthused, confident and in a slight state of amazement that this help and advice is all freely available. Not to mention my mind of crazy thoughts and ideas feeling somewhat tidier!”
Emily already has ideas for expanding her business in the future, including designing invitations for weddings, engagement parties and other occasions by using her photography mixed with text and design.
“For example, we’ve seen a rise in the number of people in their 50s starting a business. The notion of a ‘job for life’ has become outdated and most people are doing more than one thing in their careers. Having spent decades working for other people, this age group now want to make their own decisions and to reap their own rewards. A few years ago many people became entrepreneurs out of necessity, often having been made redundant or having struggled to find work. Today it is becoming more of a life choice, with many having been motivated by inspiring examples of enterprising spirit. Everyone knows someone who has started up in business.
“Back in the 1980s the perception of entrepreneurs was probably best summed up by Harry Enfield’s comic character ‘Loadsamoney’. They were often seen as wide boys and risk takers, not someone to look up to. Now people like Richard Branson, Bill Gates and James Dyson are all held in esteem and enterprise is being taught in schools.
“So many barriers to innovation have also been removed, making it easier than ever before to start up a business. The internet and constant developments in communication technologies are making it possible to work from pretty much anywhere, to reach new audiences and to remove overheads.
“The biggest thing still holding people back is a fear of failure. But it’s actually this very fear which also drives people to succeed. The best entrepreneurs only got where they did today because they didn’t want to fail. And success means different things to different people. Some people want to establish a business which allows them to indulge their passion and to pay the bills, while others want to create a business with the potential to constantly grow and evolve.
“Whatever your dream don’t let fear prevent you from trying when there is so much free support available to help you succeed. We’re not like Dragon’s Den. You don’t have to come to us with a fully worked up business plan as that’s what we are here to help you with.
“You just need an idea and the gumption to go for it. And we won’t ask for a massive share in your business in return, our advice and access to finance is normally free. ”
All the business advisers at NWES have been entrepreneurs themselves, including Kevin Horne who joined as chief executive in 1997 and is also chairman of the Cavendish Consortium, made up of six of the largest enterprise agencies across England and the National Enterprise Network.
“We all have our own experiences of investing our own money, inspiration and perspiration into starting up businesses. Here are some of our tips for getting started,” he said
1. Look to start a business that you understand, have experience in or are passionate about
2. Research your competitors thoroughly. How would your services and prices compare to your competitors? Establish your unique selling point (USP) by deciding what would make your business different.
3. Research your market and potential customers. Would you have enough people or businesses willing to pay for your goods or services?
4. Plan what you want to achieve from the business from the start. Do you want to set up a small business which you’ll enjoy and which will pay the bills or are you looking to establish something with the power to grow and evolve?
5. Contact your local enterprise agency to get free advice and guidance on planning and potential grants to support your venture
6. Develop a robust business plan which includes your market and competitor research alongside a marketing plan, detailed financial information and a contingency plan
7. Commit your time, energy and passion. But accept nothing is ever perfect or you’ll never get started!
8. Get a website, even if it is only one page with company information and contact details. If customers can’t find you online, they’ll find someone else pretty quickly.
9. Network and build relationships, not just with potential customers but with similar businesses and people within the industry, so you have your finger on the pulse to react to any potential opportunities.
10. Make it easy for people to pay you with as many different options as possible and keep a close eye on when money is owed to you, so you can identify any potential problems early. And try and obtain a bank overdraft when you don’t need it, as it’s often easier to negotiate at that time and then it’s there if you do need it.
: : NWES provides free one-to-one business advice, access to finance and serviced business premises and free business and personal skills training courses. For more information on starting up in business visit: www.nwes.org.uk/news/be-your-own-boss or call 08456 099 991 or email firstname.lastname@example.org