We caught up with Enterprise Business Adviser Jane Purdy to find out more about her role and how she can help businesses to start and grow.
I have been helping SME businesses for the last 20 years and also ran my own business for 12 years.
My career started working for an Investment Bank in Clifton. I then went on to work for Lloyds Bank where I was promoted to Software Engineer which involved delivering training to businesses of all sizes. After leaving there, I joined City of Bristol College as a Business Adviser using the NVQ Level 3 Business Startup as the vehicle to deliver the support. I then became a programme manager for the NVQ Business Startup Level 3 and also wrote a certification for OCR VQ Level 2 - Considering starting a business.
At the same time I set up my own business with a friend delivering craft workshops through retail premises. We started off with one shop, then quickly expanded to two premises within 18 months of opening and opened a third two years later. We had five employees, over 4000 product lines and used to import goods from Europe, America and the Far East. I found running my own business for 12 years I gained a lot of actual experience which definitely benefits the businesses that I work with. I decided to return to being a full time Business Adviser around 18 months ago as this is a role that I have always enjoyed.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy helping others to achieve their business goals, through developing their objectives and creating a successful strategy. For example, It's great when a business you have been working with tells you that in that time their turnover has increased by 40%. The way that they focus on the business is different from what it would have been without your support. This is what I enjoy!
And what are the most challenging aspects of your job?
We mainly offer funded support from BEIS or ERDF which requires a trail of paperwork to validate the support delivered. It is sometimes challenging to a business receiving the support to understand the importance of the paperwork being completed correctly and to be involved in any surveys that might be required.
What help and support are you able to offer businesses as part of your role?
I help businesses to focus and create a plan so that they can achieve an end result. This could range from increasing turnover, moving into a new market, understanding what is required to employ people, how to promote the business, create objectives, financial forecasting, costings and anything else that does not require legal representation.
What would you say the essentials skills are to start and run a business?
A passion for what you want to do and determination. If you don’t have the commitment to work more hours than when you were employed (especially at the beginning) it probably is not the path for you. It is definitely important to write a business plan that includes everything you need to run your business. In the business plan it should include a full marketing plan so that you understand who your target customer is going to be. This helps you to create a good sales forecast which will help you to create a cashflow forecast. This will help you to focus on whether the business will need investment and at what point. It helps you to then monitor the income as you start the business. Planning is key.
What would be your top tip to anyone wanting to start their own business?
Create a business doing what you love!