While many mums would see looking after a poorly four year-old as a good excuse to get out of attending a business course, Sally Geldard was determined not to miss a single day of the PopUp Business School workshop in Ramsgate!
Her enthusiasm for the Pop Up Business School (PUBS) event held in Ramsgate, funded by housing association charity West Kent Extra (WKE), meant that a beautifully behaved Sorrel sat at a table with her colouring book while mum learned more vital skills to further her business.
Sally, who has set up her own business as a personal assistant for company bosses who need occasional help, had attended the first four days of the week-long course and was determined not to miss anything.
The Pop Up Business School prides itself on taking the mystery out of the business process and inspiring people to ‘have a go’ rather than stifling their ideas by pointing out all the red tape they might encounter down the line.
“Most people think you need a business plan and funding to get an idea off the ground,” said co-founder Alan Donegan. “Our approach is to show people how to start with no money, be confident about their idea and then get out there and find some customers.”
It was that kind of no-nonsense advice that so inspired Sally that she felt she couldn’t miss day five of the free course, held at the Oak Hotel and attended by around 20 or so people.
“I have learned so much about business and how to turn my idea into a successful enterprise,” she said. “I have picked up lots or useful sales and marketing advice, gained confidence in what I want to do and, above all, discovered a real passion for making it work.
“Sorrel was under the weather this morning and not well enough to go to school but I was determined to get to the last day of a course that really has been an eye-opener for me.
“I came here on Monday with a fledgling business that wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders. Next Monday I will be going out there with renewed confidence, lots of great business ideas and a passion to succeed.”
Sally’s business – MinerVA – offers PA skills to companies on a one-off basis, perhaps when they need to arrange an overseas business trip. “I worked as a PA in London before starting a family and I want to help local firms who can’t afford a full time PA but still need help with specific projects,” she said. “They get the right level of expert support but only pay for as much time as they need.”
WKE, the community development arm of housing provider West Kent, has already worked with PUBS in Swanley and in Chatham, and achieved significant success in both places.
At least two new businesses set up following the Swanley are still going strong, while the more recent event for prospective Medway entrepreneurs inspired many of those attending to take the first steps towards self-employment.
WKE’s aim is to encourage and inspire local people with a business idea to set up on their own as part of its determination to support communities across the county in those areas where West Kent has homes.
In Ramsgate those people included 42 year-old Mark Moreton, who picked up five days of useful advice on everything from accounting to tax and marketing in order to boost his new furniture restoration business Flippin’ Furniture.
“This seemed like a great opportunity to strengthen my business knowledge and that’s what it turned out to be,” said Mark. “I have picked up a huge amount of information – and all for free.”
“It’s been a great week,” added Alan Donegan. “Our aim is always to inspire potential entrepreneurs, give them the basic information they need and make sure they think about the important things – their ideas and their customers.”