West Midlands’ entrepreneurs received a double boost in realising their dreams today, with Business Link West Midlands launching the first ever monthly ‘E-zine’ and the continued roll-out of its events programme, featuring over 50 specialist workshops between now and the end of July.
The announcement, which follows an earlier rallying cry by the organisation, is the latest in a long line of innovative techniques introduced by the new service, as it looks to propel the region up the enterprise league tables and provide in-depth assistance to 16,000 companies.
It has already successfully launched its online knowledge bank (featuring 2000 factsheets, industry reports and grant schemes) that is accessible by support staff, created the UK’s first Supplier Register and successfully appointed providers to deliver the ‘enterprise offer’ locally.
“The creation of new businesses is absolutely essential to the vitality of the West Midlands and we are already seeing the evidence of this with traditional industries evolving and new sectors emerging,” explained Jill Parker, Enterprise Director at Business Link West Midlands.
“There are no longer jobs for life and, the advent of broadband, IT systems and home working, has persuaded many people to become their own boss.”
She continued: “This is something we have to encourage and this encouragement needs to be delivered throughout the region, from the moment someone thinks about starting a new company to when they celebrate their first birthday and beyond.”
Launched earlier this week, the ‘pre-start’ E-zine is the first of a number of communication tools designed to provide simple, easy access to advice and information on launching your own enterprise.
The electronic newsletter features a mix of latest news and business trends, essential pointers on government legislation and access to a number of potential opportunities.
It also provides a guide to important websites that could be of use when setting-up and hyperlinks to business tools that can be downloaded from the main website.
“We’ve already had 1000 individuals sign-up to receive the E-zine and I’m sure this number will triple over the next six weeks,” explained Jill.
“This is not about giving them all the info they need to be successful, but more a means of keeping in touch with potential entrepreneurs and providing little ‘nuggets’ of assistance that could kick-start their thinking and perhaps lead to more intensive assistance.”
Business Link West Midlands, which is aiming to provide pre-start support to 43,259 individuals between now and 2010, is providing an enterprise offer that puts tailored support and access to finance at the heart of its approach, with a dedicated team of enterprise providers operating across Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire, Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire.
The emphasis will no longer be on standard seminars or 3-day courses, with relationship managers now in place to ensure each individual or company is matched with the right adviser, at the right time and with the right external support. There is also an increasing desire to make sure everything is delivered in a location that is convenient and suited to the customer.
“With this approach in mind, we have just finalised our calendar of events for the next six weeks and we’re delighted to say we have over 50 interactive workshops pencilled in,” added Jill.
“These ‘Enterprise Sessions’ are going to be hosted in partner organisations and business centres across the West Midlands and will cover numerous topics, including pre-start awareness, legal and financial, sales and marketing, people development, planning and spotting the right business idea.
“There are thousands of places available, with some of the events set-up in group sessions and others designed to be one-on-one advice meetings. Whilst the majority of people attending will be at pre-start stage, we are hoping that this will get them on the business support ladder and it will lead to more intensive help as they start developing their ideas into commercial propositions.”
Heading up the support for Birmingham is Enterprise Central, with its Delivery Manager Mike Byrne optimistic that the new offer will help 20% more people than in previous years.
“Everything is geared around the entrepreneur and ensuring they can gain the right support on their doorstep...this has got to be good news for the region.”
He concluded: “We have never had a greater pool of external knowledge and expertise to choose from and some of the technological advancements are simply breathtaking. The challenge now is for individuals to come forward and make the support work for them – the Contact Centre (0845 113 1234) is even open on Saturday for those individuals already in employment!”
Business Link West Midlands will help 25,750 people access training modules to develop key skills required in running your own company.
In the coming year, it is also expected that over 7000 people will take part in the Business Foundation training modules with around 2500 starting up their own business, of which nearly 400 will be high-growth (achieving a turnover of £200k within two years). This equates to a 30% increase on previous years.
Individuals and companies interested in speaking with Business Link West Midlands should contact 0845 113 1234.