Following on from the latest press release regarding the New Enterprise Allowance, Face for Business (a UK business telephone answering service) is happy to share an interview we had with an entrepreneur who has successfully benefited from the scheme.
James Tartt, of JT Design, is an entrepreneur from Liverpool who started his own architectural business, starting with small projects, such as loft conversions and extensions, and has now found success within an architectural practice. This scheme has kick-started his career and it could kick-start yours too. If you’re interested in finding out more about the scheme, click here for more information.
As its Global Entrepreneurship Week, we thought it would be a great idea to share James Tartt’s story. And, in-keeping with this year’s theme of ‘Getting Connected’, we want to raise awareness of the New Enterprise Allowance, by signposting you to campaigns and initiatives. Please click here to read our blog on ‘Getting Connected with Global Entrepreneurship Week’.
We hope you feel inspired by James’ story.
FFB: How did you come across the New Enterprise Allowance?
JT: I heard of the NEA through an adviser at the Job Centre.
FFB: How was the introductory process? Did you get enough information to begin with?
JT: I found it very informative. I was given set meeting times so that I could be introduced to my business adviser/mentor and the meetings were very convenient and local. My business advisor, Steve Mather, was extremely informative and instilled a lot of confidence in the early days.
FFB: Did you attend any courses?
JT: Yes. There were a number of workshops as part of the course, which concentrated on different aspects of running a business like keeping books, writing invoices and how to manage tax. There was lots of other advice available too from advisers who had run successful businesses themselves.
FFB: What was the application process like?
JT: My adviser took care of most of the early administrative things, so it was pretty quick and easy to enrol on the workshops.
FFB: What financial support were you offered initially?
JT: I received a grant that was paid on a weekly basis to help with the initial running costs of starting up. It was useful as a buffer, and it bought me a little time to try and bring in the work.
FFB: How long did you have to wait from application to meeting with an adviser to receiving support and starting your own business?
JT: Not long. I can’t remember exactly but I don’t remember waiting around.
FFB: Were there any barriers that you had to overcome, in terms of the process, area you lived in or anything else?
JT: No, not really. It was pretty straight forward. There didn’t appear to be many restrictions.
FFB: Did you receive any additional advice in terms of promoting your business?
JT: Yes, I was reassured by my business adviser, Steve Mather, that if I ever came unstuck I could email him and ask for any advice or guidance. If there were any things I was unsure of from the workshops, then Steve was there to help out in my mentoring sessions and to help me put my business plan together.
FFB: How has the scheme benefited your business so far?
JT: I’d say the most beneficial thing was the confidence I gained from it. Confidence grew as my knowledge improved and the reassurances I got from the scheme.
FFB: What was the after-care like once your business was up and running?
JT: I’ve not really utilised this as much as I could have. Things have been going well so I’ve not really felt the need to contact my business adviser. I’m sure there will be questions I have or things I’m unsure about in the future, and I’d like to think I could still contact my business adviser from time to time to pick his brain.
FFB: Was the finance offered, easily obtained? Was there a rigorous process? Did you have to provide invoices, or keep a log of expenditure made, to claim the grant?
JT: I had to prove I was still trading. Things like providing evidence of client invoices or business expenses. I didn’t really have trouble with this as I filed all my incoming and outgoing invoices and kept a log of work I’d produced for clients – so there was never an issue with getting hold of the finance.
FFB: Any tips or advice to give in terms of the overall experience?
JT: If you have a good solid idea, then speak to people who can help you put the idea into a business plan. Then from that you will gain the confidence to move things forwards and have a real go of things.
FFB: Would you recommend the scheme to other people?
JT: Yes I would. As long you’re confident in your plan, and confident you can earn a living from your ideas, then why not give it a go?
FFB: As an entrepreneur, what’s your top tip for other people thinking of making the move to starting their own business?
JT: I was advised by my business adviser to get a part time job to run alongside getting things up and running. This, I feel, was a good move as I was able to earn a guaranteed income whilst I was setting things up. It just took the pressure off a little financially but still enabled me to have the time to work on the business plan. My biggest tip however is just to try your hardest. If you do that then you can have no regrets - success or failure. Working very hard just increases the chances of success!!
Face for Business managed to obtain a supportive quote from Adrian Ellis, Business Start-up Manager at St Helen's Chamber.
“James’ story is a great example of someone who had a clear idea that he wanted to start his own business with an excellent vision of the offer he was providing. We were able to offer him a structure and a process to enable him to realise his ambitions and provide him with ongoing support as his new business develops.”
“St Helens Chamber is here to help and can offer any promising entrepreneur with a passion to start a business or someone looking to become self-employed the support a guidance they need to kick start them.”
Read James' start-up story on the St Helen's Chamber site here.
If you live in the North West and would like to gain some advice to realise your own start-up dream, please visit St Helen's Chamber website.
Additional case studies from the NEA website:-