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News

The Business Growth Programme will be hosting events and masterclasses across the region to support the growth of local businesses. Write ups of such events will be posted on this page.

For details about upcoming events/support/masterclasses delivered by the progamme please visit our programme services page.

To sign up to the programme please click here.

Start-up success

Reaseheath College recently held a two day event to help student entrepreneurs develop the skills they need to start a business. The course consisted of a step-by-step guide on how to set up a business and how to get the framework right before trading commences. A participant on the course commented:

“The workshop was extremely helpful and allowed me to gain a greater insight into how to set up a business, who to contact if I need help and how to organise banking.”

Key speakers at the event delivered talks about their own personal experiences as a business owner, and inspired course participants with stories of their business’ journey. The session helped students understand the fundamental elements of setting up a business and gave them the confidence to take their own business ideas forward. 

 To attend similar events at Reaseheath College, please click here. 

Future proofing your finances with Reaseheath College

 Reaseheath College, a delivery partner of the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, recently delivered a bespoke financial planning course which enabled participants to understand the key financial elements of their business. 

The session focused on the way in which financial data can be used to influence important business decisions. Steve Mowbray, a participant on the course, commented:

“William McKee [the speaker] made a complex subject clear and easily understandable. A fantastic session!”

The workshop was extremely interactive and consisted of several group exercises in which participants shared their views on risk and financial planning. Suzanne Miller also attended the course and found the content extremely valuable. She states:

“It was really useful to see a cash-flow table. This was a great course.”

To find out about future workshops with Reaseheath College, please click here

Testimonial

Mike Robinson was managing his embryonic start-up from home, when a local Environmental Health Officer suggested that NoWFood could help.

“The business is even now in its early stages, but I could see from the outset that we should be thinking about how to scale manufacture, should it take off in the way that we hope. I think that the introduction by the EHO will prove to be a very significant event in the life of the company.

The support from the NoWFOOD team and their enthusiasm for the product has been great. Having access to a wide variety of larger test and manufacturing facilities, along with the always friendly and positive specialist assistance, will be fundamental to our business plan in providing us with a credible bridge from home kitchen to manufacturing at scale.

Additionally, the training courses have been consistently excellent, whether in providing a background to legal requirements, or in providing an introduction to Digital Marketing. We feel being introduced to NoWFOOD and the Cheshire & Warrington Business Growth Programme has really given us the best possible start.”

Mike Robinson, Entrepreneur

Case study: Carmen Schoene – Symfix

Symfix is a digital start-up company founded by Carmen Schoene and her partner Erik Penninga. Symfix is a new system designed to replace QR codes and provide a simpler and more direct link to the Internet. The technology is known as the Symfix badge and this uses a symbol code as a call to action in place of the QR codes that are currently used in marketing. Using a Symfix badge on an advert allows potential customers to key in the symbols on the badge so that they can be directed straight to the relevant purchasing details about a product. With traditional QR codes, potential customers are usually directed to a search page or home page of a company’s website and sales can be lost.

To help develop the business, Carmen recently attended the cohort of workshops and seminars delivered at MMU through the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme. Carmen’s business is based in a small town location which can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation. She found meeting other business leaders on the programme very refreshing and enjoyed exchanging ideas with a mix of diverse local businesses. Carmen now has a network of other business leaders who she can call on for advice. She comments; “It’s not only the workshops, it’s also the talking in between that is important.”

Carmen also gained helpful advice on how to secure her first client. She now feels ready to practice the skills she has learnt and to take her business forward to the next level. She states; “Practically, I’ve learnt to ask questions, to go further…I have found it a very interesting journey.”

Case study: Vicki Swinden – The Print Company

Vicki Swinden set up her Warrington based business, The Print Company, in 2010 despite struggling to secure funding. With the help of friends and Warrington Borough Council, she was able to secure a premises and start taking orders.

In 2016, Vicki attended the first cohort of workshops and seminars delivered by MMU as part of the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme. She enjoyed the uniqueness of having a course delivered by academics, and found the leadership and management content particularly valuable to her business needs. She has now placed a greater emphasis on staff development within her own company and has been able to share the skills she gained from the workshops with her colleagues.

Vicki’s participation in the programme also helped her to identify which skills she needed further development and support with. Finance was an area of her business that needed focus so she actively sought out a part-time Financial Director to assist with fundamental changes for achieving business growth.  

On a personal level, Vicki has been inspired to undertake further professional development. She comments: “It has given me a route for self-improvement in the shape of the MMU MBA”.

Vicki now employs a team of 14 staff and has a continually growing turnover of £500k. She has already recommended the Business Growth Programme to her business contacts. Her advice is:

“Get in touch with the Business Growth Programme to identify how it could help you– the programmes I did with MMU were well thought out and very supportive of my business.”

Case study: Just Thai Kitchen

 Just Thai Kitchen is a Cheshire based business that specialises in creating authentic Thai ready meals. The
company was founded by mother and son duo Nooch and Miles with the vision of producing handmade Thai
dishes using authentic and quality ingredients to give consumers a true taste of Thailand. With the help of the NoWFOOD Centre and the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, they have achieved exactly that.

Having developed a basic concept for a profitable business back in 2015, Nooch and Miles wanted to take their ideas to the next level by scaling up production. They approached the University of Chester’s
NoWFOOD Centre (North West Food Research Development Centre) and became the centre’s first commercial client. From here they have developed into a growing and profitable micro-business. Miles comments: “Without the NoWFOOD Centre our business just wouldn’t exist today. A year ago we were dreamers with an idea, today we are a micro-business selling a range of food products in multiple shops across
Cheshire.”

The NoWFOOD Centre provides facilities and expertise to food and drink manufacturers to enable them to explore new markets and develop new product ideas. The University of Chester’s expert staff at the NoWFOOD Centre supported Nooch and Miles by helping them carry out product testing to meet food standard requirements. They also continue to provide Just Thai Kitchen with access to a fit-for-purpose production kitchen from which they can operate their business. As a result of all the support Just Thai Kitchen have received, they now have seven products currently stocked across three farm shops in Cheshire and have seen double-digit monthly revenue growth within the first 12 months. As they celebrate their one year anniversary in the NoWFOOD Centre, Just Thai Kitchen continue to be optimistic about the future, and aim to move to bigger premises as the company expands. They have accessed further support from the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme to help them do exactly that.

The University of Chester is a delivery partner of the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, an ERDF programme set up to support SMEs in Cheshire and Warrington. The programme helps businesses understand the key skills they need to develop in order to facilitate growth. Nooch and Miles became aware of the programme through their involvement with the NoWFOOD Centre. They felt it would be a good opportunity to develop the skills they need to take their business to the next level. Miles comments:

“We hope that by being a part of the programme we can expand current channels to market and explore new ones, with the eventual aim of generating sufficient cash flow to set up our own production
facility.”

Within one year Just Thai Kitchen has evolved from concept to a fully functional business. Now, the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme is helping them expand their business further.

Testimonial

When Townley & Co Accountants embarked on an expansion plan they contacted the Cheshire & Warrington Business Growth Programme to provide one-to-one business support.


“Our Business Adviser provided practical support for the development of our growth strategy and creation of a revised business plan focused on expansion. We were also able to access specialist Masterclasses which helped develop our company’s skill base in recruitment and digital marketing. The support was incredibly helpful and kept our expansion project on track. In addition, our Business Adviser made introductions to the University of Chester to help us recruit a Chartered Manager Degree Apprentice (CMDA), this programme is extremely flexible and really fits our business needs.” 

David Townley, Director, Townley & Co Ltd

Testimonial

“As a new company with a niche product, this programme has been essential to our growth in a short space of time. There is a great mixture of personal support, academic tutoring and group workshops. The advice and guidance is second to none and I’ve built what I believe will be long standing business relationships, referral networks and friendships with a wide variety of business owners. The experience and dedication of the mentors has been exceptional. I would recommend the course to any start-ups and SME’s regardless of your experience or business background.”

David Barrigan, Director, Putting Edge Ltd

Cheshire and Warrington businesses celebrate success

The Centre for Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), one of the delivery partners of the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, was delighted to see 23 business leaders based throughout Cheshire and Warrington recently graduate from a dedicated 5 month fully funded business support programme. 

The businesses ranged from start-ups to established SMEs and came from a diverse range of sectors including digital technology, finance, sports and leisure, marketing and training and education.  The delegates signed up to the programme back in September 2016 and included expert workshops in topics such as finance, recruitment and HR, leadership and sales and marketing. 

Key benefits of the specific business support programme delivered by MMU include the peer-to-peer discussions and observations.  Businesses attending benefit from professional advice, the opportunity to discuss business challenges, sharing best practice with other businesses and networking opportunities.  The course, designed to promote business growth in the region as part of the larger business growth programme, has helped previous participants to expand their businesses and enhance their business leadership and management skills. The next specific cohort delivered by MMU starts in April 2017.

Applications from businesses with potential for growth are encouraged to register their interest after which point they will be contacted by the most suitable delivery partner to discuss the most appropriate support needed for business growth.

A new start

The photos show business leaders from the latest
 cohort of the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme (CWBGP) enjoying their induction day at the Manchester Metropolitan University Crewe Campus.  The induction is a chance for participants to get to know one another before taking part in a series of business growth workshops.  These are offered (with no charge) to small businesses based in Cheshire and Warrington as part of the growth programme, managed by one of the programme’s delivery partners ‘The Centre for Enterprise’ at Manchester Metropolitan University. Read more about the programme.

Let’s get digital

Local SMEs learnt all about digital marketing at a recent master class held by delivery partner the University of Chester. The session was designed to develop an understanding of digital marketing along with suggested strategies and tactics that best suited the needs of the individual attendees. The
importance of having a digital marketing strategy was emphasised, and delegates learnt how to maximise success for their business from the different digital marketing platforms.

The main areas of discussion included social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), email campaigns, pay-per-click (PPC) and content management. The businesses that attended were given the opportunity to develop digital marketing action plans that could be implemented immediately, making the session extremely practical and insightful.

The class was delivered as a result of demand for digital marketing support. To attend future events please visit our sign up page 

20170118_184901Warrington gets social

Warrington Collegiate one of the Cheshire & Warringon Business Growth Programme delivery partners recently delivered a social media masterclass.

The session focused on the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram teaching clients how best to use such social media channels to promote and advertise their businesses. 

Clients completed the class having set up the relevant social media accounts for their business and the starter knowledge required to build on their channels and marketing opportunities.

The class was delivered following demand for social media support from businesses signed up to the programme.

To sign up to the programme please visit our dedicated sign up page

A positive start at MMU Crewe Campus

MMU, one of the delivery partners for The Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme, has recently started a second cohort of the programme. Roxy Lawton, Project Manager for the programme, led the group of 25 companies, including five prestart-up businesses.

The participants came together at the Manchester Metropolitan Crewe Campus for a day of workshops, introductory exercises and icebreakers. Throughout the course, the participants will benefit from peer to peer advice and support which is an invaluable part of the programme. 

They kicked off the session discussing ‘business growth’, understanding that it is not simply a matter of growing staff numbers, and can include profit, additional services, expansion of clients, and many other factors.

Isla Wilson from Ruby star Associates delivered an interactive workshop on identifying the difference between being strategic and operational. Depending on the business leader’s long-term aim, they may want to have a business that relies on them being very hands on or a business that can function without them. She also covered innovation, and the fact that all companies need to give innovation a chance.

We would like to congratulate all the businesses on their brilliant contribution to the day, and we look forward to working with them all, and helping them grow in the coming months.

To apply for support from the business growth programme, fill in the online form