We caught up with Charley to talk about her Somerset-based business Charley Elizabeth Events and her aims for growth through the recent support she has received from the ERDF funded Growth Support Programme.
So, tell us a bit about your business and your role?
We are an events organiser based in Taunton which is run by a two-person team; I’m Charley Elizabeth and I have a background in events and hospitality. I run the business with my fiancé, Peter, who does our website and design work.
We organise events across the South West for other venues as well as put on our own too; I love doing wedding fairs, showcases and festivals and I have a passion in health and wellbeing, so many of my events are in this niche.
What do you enjoy most about your business?
I love the fact that it is my business and that I’m the boss! I’m originally from up north, but I am in love with the South West and really connect with the community focus down here. There’s an amazing variety of people that I meet through my work and I just love talking to businesses and connecting with people through events.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
I never have enough time in the week! It’s hard to get the right balance of life vs work, but luckily I have quite a few freelance workers on my books so it makes it easier for me to bring an event together.
And, keeping up with social media and marketing is often a challenge too!
Why have you joined the Growth Support Programme?
As we were in the early stages of our business, we wanted some support in areas that we didn’t know much about. We met Toni-Anne Millership from the Somerset Business Agency and she told us we would be eligible for the ERDF funded programme. We have had a wide range of support that has definitely contributed to the success of our business, including financial planning which helped us understand and measure costs and net profit a bit more.
Is the programme proving useful to you?
We took a 1-2-1 module on social media training which was very useful; we learnt a lot and we were able to put things into practice instantly. We also joined a free workshop on Facebook marketing, as well as GDPR and finance too. During the time with SBA, we have met lots of great contacts and it’s been good to connect with like-minded people. SBA have been able to give us lots of insight into business growth and forward planning.
What are your key goals to achieve following the programme?
Definitely to grow the business! We would like to grow the team so that we don’t have to hire so many temp staff or freelancers, which will enable us to grow our events by working with more clients on a consultancy basis.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever been given?
That if you don’t plan, then you will fail, but be flexible when you are knee-deep in your business. The business plan builds a solid foundation, but be prepared to roll with the changes that your business may throw at you.
Also, SBA have taught me to aim high – have a bold vision and great dreams. A business simply won’t work if you don’t follow your passion!
What do you think are the biggest challenges for the future generation in business?
I think due to the digital age, we don’t always talk any more, face to face. There’s so many ways of connecting with people online via social media or Skype/FaceTime that it’s hard to remember to actually sit down and build relationships with people. The future generation also have to be reminded that success is not just about how much money you make in your business, it’s about your health and wellbeing too.
The Heart of the South West Growth Support Programme is receiving up to £904,945 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit this page. The accountable body for this programme is Devon County Council, working with the following delivery partners: BIP, Cosmic, North Devon +, SBA, TDA and YTKO.