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Political Parties Take Note …..

26th January, 2015 No Comments

2015 has arrived and with it perhaps the longest election run in that we have seen in recent history.

We all know what the ‘big’ issues will be, and where party lines will be drawn.  However, much less clear is where any of the parties stand on new and small businesses.  We hear many warm words from government and opposition but do they really listen to what the business community and the country really needs?

Walking the tightrope awaiting Government policies on small businesses

Policies need to be developed which have longevity; can survive more than one parliament; and are based on such common sense that no colour of government would seek to make anything other than minor changes.  Too often a new government means throwing out everything before it just to reinvent it at a later stage – often worse than it was before.  We live in an interventionist capitalist society, and business does require some help in order to grow and provide more taxable income in order to deliver what the country requires in other areas.

As any good business person knows, ‘the best ideas are often the simplest’, and I make no apologies for a simple manifesto to keep our business base in robust health.  Headlines only because of space, but feel free to ask about the “meat on the bones”!

New Starts

These will require state intervention as the market does not cater here.  Continue with Start Up Loans – a great idea and a low cost intervention that makes a real difference.  Provide a nationwide start up programme such as Ready for Business, which is low cost and has proven to deliver great results.  Let it be run by Enterprise Agencies who operate in the ‘not for profit distribution’ sector and provide high quality without taking profit unlike a few companies that we see in this sector!  Provide mentors for the first two years of a new business (if required).

Early Stage Growth

Having nurtured the baby we need to teach it how to stand on its own.  As such a growth programme which requires 50% payment by the client is a fair way to encourage a growth spurt.  We have several schemes which have the basis on which to build, so simplify these and make available to all.

Specialist Support

This is needed at certain stages in a business life such as exporting for the first time, or developing Intellectual Property.  Have a high quality national core which reacts to client demand in a timely and effective way.

Medium Sized and Above

At this stage a business should be able to stand on its own and so no state intervention at all. No grants, incentives or bribes – let the market determine capability.

So … how do we pay for this?  Savings on ‘inward investment’ grants and support to large business will go a long way.  The savings on welfare bills through a more diversified business base and lower unemployment will also soon recoup any initial investment.  Fines on banks should go directly to Start Up Loans.

I can hear the howls of anguish already from many vested interests but combine these measures with ensuring that companies pay the correct amounts of tax – yes we are talking about the multi-national villains – and the country has a bright future ahead of it.  We can dream…….

Written by Kevin Horne, Chief Executive, Nwes


You, Your Business, and You

23rd January, 2015 No Comments

As a small or medium business owner, where would you be without your business?

More importantly, where would your business be without you? The answer to which, no doubt, takes you back to the first question, ‘where would you be without your business?’

Many business owners tend to forget that their business reflects their own expertise and ability. The business is built upon their own knowledge and skills. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that by improving, building upon, and expanding the skills, expertise, and ability of the business owner, the business itself will improve, expand, and have a stronger foundation upon which to grow.

“Going it alone is an admirable but foolhardy and highly flawed approach to taking on the world.” Richard Branson, founder of Virgin

By accessing the services of The Cavendish Consortium group, you, as a small to medium business owner, can develop your business understanding and expertise. The Consortium sees the coming together of six of the largest enterprise agencies in England, each with over 30 years experience. These six agencies are among the most prominent not-for-profit social enterprises in the country.

Working in close partnership with a variety of organisations from the private, public and third sectors, The Cavendish Consortium has a revered reputation for achieving excellent results in business enterprise. Together with the National Enterprise Network, the Consortium partners are longstanding members of the business support community, being highly respected for their independent and impartial advice, and their impeccable moral integrity.

The services provided by Consortium members include financial advice, business planning, grant applications, training, advice on expanding overseas, networking solutions, and office space. As regional organisations themselves, each of the members has specific and invaluable knowledge of business sectors and needs in each region across England.

The important step for you as a business owner is to accept that you can actually benefit from some advice and help.

Richard Branson admits to having had help, advice and support along the way. In his book he writes,

“What do Larry Page, Steve Jobs and yours truly have in common? We’ve all received guidance from mentors. Yes, even the famously individually-minded Apple Founder got by with a little help, advice and support from time to time. No matter who you are, where you’ve come from, or what you have achieved, a good mentor is an invaluable asset in business…”  (extract from ‘The Virgin Way’)

As mentors, the Cavendish Consortium partners make an invaluable asset to any business. Each has a proven track record in delivering help and advice to thousands of businesses across England.

So …… are you ready to accept that you and your business will benefit from the services offered by the Cavendish Consortium?

Written by Davina Young @ Nwes

Find out more and access the services in your region via:

BBV Logo


For over 30 years BBV has delivered across North West England business support and enterprise contracts through a dedicated team of professional and highly skilled business advisers and mentors.

Business West Logo


As the largest membership organisation in the South West, we represent and work with 16,000 businesses, providing a range of advice and support services from how to start, develop and grow your business to expanding overseas as well as flexible workspaces and prestigious conference facilities.

Enterprise First Logo


Since 1981 Enterprise First has been helping people start their own business and develop their existing enterprises across the South East of England.

NBV Logo


The award winning NBV Enterprise Solutions Ltd (NBV) has been supporting enterprise in the East Midlands for over 30 years. NBV’s success as a business support organisation has been built on a culture of openness, enterprise and innovation.



For over 30 years Nwes has been helping new businesses to start up, thrive and survive across East Anglia.

TEDCO Business Support Logo


TEDCO Business Support helps businesses to start up and grow across the North East of England. We have an experienced and diverse team of business advisers offering business advice, access to finance and access to key networks and contacts.

National Enterprise Network Logo


National Enterprise Network is a unique membership body representing those working in the enterprise support sector across England and we believe our members are crucial to England’s economic growth.


Moving beyond Business Start-up: Turning the Tables with a Vinyl Revolution

15th January, 2015 No Comments

NBV, RfBTallbird Pic

Through the Ready for Business programme, many budding new entrepreneurs are making their dreams a reality and starting their own business.  Maria Harris from Chesterfield is one such entrepreneur, who started her business with the help of NBV Enterprise Solutions Ltd (NBV), based in the East Midlands.

Maria has a background in music retail, working for big names like Beggars Banquet and Virgin Retail, plus a degree in Radio, Film & Television Studies, and made the decision to play her part in the vinyl revolution by setting up Tallbird Records.

Maria explained “I started my own business because, quite frankly, I was a bored housewife who had a dream of owning and running a record shop.”  This led to Maria doing some internet research on setting up a business, where she found NBV.   “I only attended a one-day seminar about starting a business, but it was there that I was introduced to my NBV Business Adviser, Anna Sywyj, who became such a support to me” said Maria.  “She was the one person I could discuss my business planning concerns with; she was also someone to kick ideas around with and an invaluable source of advice about the logistics of starting a new business.”

Maria opened her shop in October 2013.

“My claim to fame is that Tallbird Records is currently the only record shop in Chesterfield!”

“I’m proud to offer a great range of products, alongside first-rate customer service. I also make a profit, which of course is the really important bit!”

There have of course been the inevitable highs and lows to navigate.  Maria said “The high point of opening the business for me has been the incredible positivity and genuine warmth from those who have visited the shop, some of whom have become regular customers.  I have had days when my takings have been down, but on the whole, there have been many more highs than lows.”

NBV Business Adviser, Anna, added, “Maria had a sound business plan when we met; she just needed a steer in the right direction.  She has now developed a successful enterprise, which is based on her passion for music.  It has been such a joy to see her confidence grow as a direct result of opening and growing her business.  When you visit the shop, it’s clear to see that customers really value Maria’s knowledge and the excellent customer service that she provides. I am also really pleased that the business is exceeding its initial financial projections.  Maria has adapted and tweaked the business to meet the demands of her record-buying public; she’s also added to her new product ranges to ensure she stays one step ahead of the game.”

The future is bright for Maria and Tallbird Records.  Summarising her experience of Ready for Business with NBV, Maria concluded “I would advise anyone wanting to move on from business start-up, to contact NBV and make the most of the services and support on offer.  I’ve just taken on a part time member of staff and am looking forward to offering the same great service, on a slightly grander scale.  I’m also exploring setting up an online shop, further marketing of the business and long-term, even a move to slightly larger premises.  My turnover is also growing; who knows where I’ll be in another year’s time!”

If you would like to follow in Maria’s footsteps and start your own business, contact your local enterprise agency within the Cavendish Consortium partnership.

Make sure the forks are straight and the rest will look after itself

13th January, 2015 No Comments

Tom Bircham is the Nwes Senior Business Events Advisor and is based in London promoting the government Growth Vouchers programme. Tom’s passion is helping people to help their business, whether it’s a new venture, or one that has the potential to grow. Here he explains the fundamentals behind attention to detail and the benefits it can have, not only in business, but as a general life skill too.

Tom Bircham - Awards Ceremony

John Foster Dulles once said “A man’s accomplishments in life are the cumulative effect of his attention to detail”.

I was often mocked during my time as an events manager by my staff for being anal, as I would visit every table at an event and make sure every piece of cutlery was straight, all the table furniture was facing the same way and every table looked identical. It took a little bit more time, but in the long run I would be satisfied that I had done everything I possibly could to make sure everything looked as it should.

It is so easy for the smallest thing to have a negative impact, that if you have the opportunity to make things perfect then you should do everything you can to seize that chance. It will also help you to achieve peace of mind safe in the knowledge that you have taken all the necessary steps to make sure that you have all bases covered.

People have often commented on my calmness under pressure and I am able to live like this for two reasons. Firstly I contextualise things, even under extreme pressure I make sure I keep the bigger picture in mind – I am healthy, my family is healthy and I have a good life. If I make a mistake my world will not fall apart. Secondly, a former managing director once said to me ‘keep it simple stupid’ (K.I.S.S.) and this is a principle that is key to being effective – if you don’t need to complicate something then don’t.

This second principle is important when approaching attention to detail. If you can do the simple things really well then the rest will fall in to place. If you overcomplicate matters that is when things often fall down.

The other advantage of good attention to detail is that is will set you apart from your competition and make sure you are ahead of the game. It takes little more time but in the long run you will end up saving time by doing things correctly and you will be recognised for being the best at what you do.

This is illustrated brilliantly in a tale taken from when Henry Kissinger was President Nixon’s Secretary of State.  Happy reading!

The Growth Voucher Scheme is a Government programme whereby small businesses can apply for £2,000 match funding to finance strategic business advice. Tom is working with organisations in the region to help them maximise their full potential by taking advantage of match funding available from this project. Find out more here.


A Season of Plenty as Catering Duo Cook Up New Venture

8th January, 2015 No Comments

Two Newcastle businesswomen tasted the delights of a £14,000 boost last year to grow their bespoke catering business.

Jenny Scott, 24, and Corrie Thomas, 25, from Newcastle last year set up Seasons Plenty, a catering business, to make use of their love of international travel.  The pair combined 20 years of experience in the food industry, and were one of the first businesses to have been awarded financing through the new enterprise loan provider, Virgin StartUp.

Jenny recently returned from five years running a bar and restaurant in Spain and Corrie spent four years living in Vietnam following her professional catering training at Newcastle College. Together, their Spanish and Vietnamese influences make Seasons Plenty an interesting mix of locally sourced food with distinctly international flavours.

Both Jenny and Corrie accessed initial business support through Ready for Business, an investment readiness programme delivered in the North East by enterprise agency TEDCO. The programme is supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and Barclays, and is delivered nationwide by the Cavendish Consortium, a partnership between some of England’s leading enterprise agencies together with the National Enterprise Network.

So far the programme has created more than 3,500 new jobs across the UK in the new enterprises it supports, and provides individuals with concentrated support in the pre-start stages of their new business.

Jenny Scott said: “From day one, Seasons Plenty has been about marrying our skills in cooking and entertaining, with our passion and love of sharing our food and knowledge of both local ingredients and international flavours, to create a catering company with a unique point of difference in the marketplace.

“Most recently, we developed our ‘Power Food for Professionals’ menu to provide a corporate lunchtime option, using ingredients to sustain energy levels through afternoon meetings as an alternative to the normal stacks of sandwiches on offer.  It’s been a great success and one which we’re hoping to expand upon as we move further into the corporate market in the future.

“We are confident in the products and services we provide, but to offer greater flexibility to our customers and improve our business pipeline, we needed to invest in promotional activity and improve the equipment available to us.

“With no start-up capital available, our Ready for Business advisor pointed us in the direction of Virgin StartUp to obtain the kind of financing we needed to really give our business a push in the right direction.”

Sir Richard Branson partnered with the Cavendish Consortium last year to officially launch Virgin StartUp for entrepreneurs.  In the North East of England, TEDCO will be the main regional access point for people looking to source funding through Virgin StartUp. Its team of advisors will help guide applicants through the application process, offering additional help and wider enterprise support as part of the Ready for Business programme.

Jenny continued, “We worked with a business advisor from TEDCO to take us through the Ready for Business stages and get our business plan rock solid before even thinking about applying for financing.

“We needed to be sure there was not only a market for our offering, but that the investment we needed to put into the business to fund promotional activities, new transport and equipment to take on larger functions, could be justified.

“Virgin StartUp has given us the opportunity to really move forward with our business, and with new premises at The Beacon on Westgate Road, Newcastle, we are now able to offer cookery classes as a way to diversify the business even further.

“For young entrepreneurs like ourselves, Virgin StartUp is a vital lifeline to financing which can otherwise be particularly difficult to source.  It makes Seasons Plenty more than just a catering business.  We are now an operation poised and ready to capitalise on some fantastic opportunities which otherwise might have had to pass us by.”

Carole White, Head of Business and Operations at TEDCO said, “We are delighted to see Seasons Plenty successfully receive financing from Virgin StartUp following support through the ‘Ready for Business’ programme.  Both Jenny and Corrie are passionate and dedicated business owners with a real understanding for what will make their business stand out in the marketplace.

“Although launched relatively recently, we have seen an enormous amount of interest in Virgin StartUp from younger people in the North East who are keen to look at ways to get their venture off the ground with an affordable loan.

“The spirit of enterprise is very much alive in the region and we’re looking forward to working with more new ventures in the coming months to see how Virgin StartUp can make a difference to their business prospects.”

Following the successful pilot in the North East and Cumbria supported by Virgin Money, Virgin StartUp was officially launched in October 2013 to provide low-cost business loans and mentoring support to entrepreneurs across the UK.  The free advice and support available through the scheme can be accessed in each region around the country via the Cavendish Consortium partners.


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