Business Link West Midlands has strengthened its enterprise offer even further this week with the appointment of a trio of ‘sector specialists’ for the West Midlands.
The organisation, which is looking to add £100m to the economy this year, has added the Prince’s Trust (catering specifically for 16 to 30 year-old entrepreneurs), the Women’s Business Development Agency (WBDA) and Tribal’s Creative Launchpad (targeting the buoyant creative industries) to their list of providers.
This announcement ties in with the growing need to tailor the business support offer and should now act as a catalyst for helping a further 2000 entrepreneurs turn their dreams into commercial reality.
Jill Parker, Enterprise Director for Business Link West Midlands, was delighted with the news:
“We said that the service would herald a new era of support and this exactly what we are doing, with the appointment of three proven experts in the fields of young people, female and creative enterprises.
“These areas all share massive growth potential and, research has proven that they need a different type of help than the mainstream assistance. This is reflected in the working partnerships with the Prince’s Trust, WBDA and Tribal’s Creative Launchpad – organisations that are pioneering specialist support in both the Midlands and the UK.”
She continued: “This level of expertise has never been assembled before and signals our intentions to provide independent, high quality advice that meets the needs of the business and entrepreneur.”
The three specialists bring with them unique ways of working with companies and individuals in their chosen field and will employ a range of innovative techniques, training courses and development programmes to help get businesses started and on the expansion track.
They join an already impressive line-up of Enterprise Support providers, including Enterprise Central and Business Insight (Birmingham), Black Country Small Business Service, Business Enterprise Support (Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire) and the Eastern Region Enterprise Consortium (Coventry, Warwickshire and Staffordshire).
Together, the organisations will deliver a large part of Business Link West Midlands’ enterprise offer through workshops, one-on-one mentoring, clinics and pre-start events, with the overall aim of helping 2000 companies in the West Midlands.
“Creating this number of business should add over £100m to the regional economy and, more importantly, should give everyone wanting to start a business – regardless of age, race, where they live and sector focus – the best possible chance to be successful...this has got to be good news!,” concluded Jill.
With 4% growth expected over the next five years, the Creative Industries is set to have a growing influence on the West Midlands’ diverse economy and this has been reflected in the joint alliance with Tribal’s Creative Launchpad.
The organisation, which has a team of six expert advisers, has been providing tailored enterprise support for the emerging sector since 2004, helping over 3500 individuals achieve a brighter future in starting their own business or launching their careers.
Its experience in supporting both the ‘entrepreneur and the idea’ will help to create a more joined up approach and, importantly, will increase the regional spread of potential businesses being supported.
David Roberts, Senior Project Manager at Tribal’s Creative Launchpad, explained:
“We hope to bring a platform for anyone in the creative industries to be understood and to bring mainstream support to their doorstep. The region has to embrace and successfully take ideas from new and emerging sectors and make them successful...I firmly believe this new approach will help play a part in establishing the West Midlands as a creative hub for the UK.”
The unrivalled experience of the Women’s Business Development Agency will be essential in increasing the number of female entrepreneurs in the West Midlands.
Utilising an expert team of advisers and a carefully tailored programme of workshops, personal development opportunities and ongoing mentoring, the specialist provider is already setting its sights on engaging with 200 women seriously looking at starting their own company.
“We are here to help female entrepreneurs overcome the barriers they face with women-friendly advice, training and support provided both on a one-to-one basis and through ‘West Midlands Woman’; the most comprehensive women’s business website in the UK,” pointed out Sally Arkley, Director of WBDA.
“This could be on any aspect of starting a new business, including initial planning, market research, raising finance and marketing the idea/product. We are also there after the launch and in the growth period, with all our services tailored to the needs and caring responsibilities of our clients.”
Pipeline of talent
One of the most striking alliances is with the Prince’s Trust, an organisation that is recognised throughout the world for its work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Under Business Link West Midlands, this same level of support and knowledge will be made available to anyone from that age group in the region, regardless of their personal situation.
Jill said: “Where young people want to work with people of their own age, we will be setting up peer to peer mentoring, making sure they will be talking to people that have credibility and that they can rely on and trust. Furthermore, we will also be looking to bring forward young entrepreneurs as inspirational role models.”
The Prince’s Trust‘s Paul Beesley is equally pleased that a specific focus is now being placed on this growth area:
“Young people have often been overlooked in the past so it is very reassuring to see the renewed effort to engage with entrepreneurs at the very earliest age. This may be when they leave School, College, and University or, in some cases, individuals who may be planning their second career move.
“It is a very exciting time for the West Midlands and we are looking forward to bringing our own skills to the table to help in excess of 200 people.”
Business Link West Midlands is already in the process of assessing the potential benefits of using networking websites like Facebook and MySpace to contact would-be young business people and have added the use of podcasting and e-zines as an alternative to more traditional communication methods.