Mind Your Own Business events see successful launch

A series of IFB fringe events aimed at small and growing businesses in the city region was launched earlier this month, as around seventy delegates gathered at The Old Hall at Cotton Exchange for the first event, ‘Go On, Ask Me’.

The events have been co-ordinated by a consortium of businesses, including Garden Retail Success, Bruntwood, Smaller Earth Group and The North West Fund; who all have a shared interest in facilitating honest and unbiased advice to small business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Go On, Ask Me speakers and sponsors

The event last Tuesday was the first in a series of four, which will take place over the duration of a month.

Michael Taylor from Downtown Manchester in Business led a panel discussion which saw esteemed business leaders from various sectors discuss the pros and cons of launching or growing a business; addressing common issues and offering real and first hand solutions.

David Robinson from cultural exchange company Smaller Earth Group, which was not short of its challenges when it launched 2001, welcomed delegates. Dave also announced the launch of their EU funded project Another Level, which will aim to help launch creative businesses in Merseyside and beyond.

The panel included Jenny Stewart of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, Colin Sinclair of Bruntwood David Wade-Smith of Web Ticket, Paula Gamester of Blackburne House and Jamie Bentley of Stephenson Group.

The session saw each of the panel members give a candid overview of their experiences in enterprise before being asked for their opinions on challenges including recruitment and access to finance.

“There is no one solution in terms of financing a business,” said Jenny Stewart, “whilst banks don’t necessarily fund directly, they often signpost. It’s so important to prove your worth to the companies who can fund your business, selling yourself on paper is a priority in the initial stages of growth.”

David Wade-Smith added:

“Banks are not the first port of call any more, businesses should consider EU funded projects or British Government funding, as well as investment. There is also something to be said for building relationships with your suppliers and your landlord – generosity of spirit can go a long way when you’re starting or growing a business.”

When asked about recruitment, which is so often considered one of the major risks for new and small businesses, Paula Gamester said:

“Blackburne House is the umbrella for a number of businesses and our staff and our managers are our biggest asset. It’s important to get the best people you can, even if they cost you more than you might expect – quality people are worth the risk and are key to the direction of your business.”

Colin Sinclair agreed, adding:

“Bruntwood employ around 450 people and as employers, we’re trying to create lifestyles for our staff, adding value and additional benefits to their role.

“Participation is vital to us creating the working community that is so important to our ethos, and we offer sport and recreational activities like yoga and book clubs to support and enrich the time people spend here. Ultimately we want to create a culture where people enjoy coming into the workplace.”

The panel unanimously agreed that recruiting young people was always a good idea, Jenny Stewart suggesting that they have helped to change the face of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce bringing ‘energy, passion and drive in abundance’.

Jamie Bentley supported this, saying:

“Young people are key. They are full of ambition, ideas and they work hard.

“I also think it’s important to have a right hand man, someone you trust implicitly to run your business in your absence. You never know when you might need them.”

Colin Sinclair finished by saying:

“Relationships are key and often, you simply do business with people that you like. Employ the brightest, most dynamic people you can and always strive to find people who offer something different to what you already have.”

‘Go On, Ask Me’ was also supported by Liverpool John Moores University, Morecrofts Solicitors and Lloyds Banking Group, who will all be involved in facilitating the remaining events.

For more information on other Mind Your Own Business events, please contact Jennie or Emma on 0151 707 9471

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