With the recession in full swing, jobs being lost, the pound losing value, and the ‘green shoots’ of recovery just a twinkle in Darling’s eye we thought it would be a good time to find out what Business Link are up to.Advertisement
The government has been pumping money into services that promote and help businesses to grow, particularly new start-ups. So, with one eye on our own ambitions here on Preston Blog it was interesting to speak to Nancy Dykins who is a broker for the digital and creative industries in the North West with Business Link.
“We’re a free to use, impartial and confidential business support service”, says Dykins, “we want to give people that help to start a business or to grow an existing one.”
Business Link North West helps around 9,600 clients a year and each broker has around 70-80 clients they will deal with on a regular basis.
The brokers work as a team to provide support to a wide range of businesses and this is a big challenge for them according to Dykins.
She said: “We work to signpost people to the right information, training and potentially funding. It’s a hard challenge as you can be dealing with so many different sized business’ at one time.
“I can be working with an advertising agency in the morning on a human resources issue to a small greetings card one-man-band operation in the afternoon who wants to boost sales.”
Brokers have to keep on top of a deluge of information as laws, rules and funding opportunities change daily in the business world.
“Part of my role is taking all the information that flows into my inbox and picking out the bits that are useful”, says Dykins, “I will then try to pass this on to my clients wherever I can.”
One of the key positives of Business Link is that it is free to use. Anyone who is starting up a business, or thinking of starting one up, can ask for help.
Dykins said: “We’re impartial which is important, we like it when people come to us at the very earliest stages of setting up a business and we can be there right from the start.
“But, we can do a lot to help established businesses as well.”
You might think that Business Link brokers may have all the theory and no practical experience, but this isn’t the case. Get Nancy as an advisor and she’s set up and run two successful companies, selling one of them, Orchard Suits recruitment agency in Manchester, to become a Business Link advisor.
“We don’t want people who have just sat behind desks”, says Dykins, “the aim of Business Link is that you get an advisor who has real business experience, has been there and done it – so that they understand what you’ll be going through when setting up your business. You don’t want someone just talking a load of management and business theory at you.”
When setting up a business there are many challenges to overcome, but becoming a victim of your own passion is what Dykins feels is the biggest threat to any entreprenuer.
She said: “It’s very easy to get the blinkers on and just do what you want, and not make the best decision for the business.
“Plus we find that after the first year, while the business is doing well they are struggling to keep themselves organise and think beyond the next batch of orders, the next job or the next delivery. They lack the strategic stuff and we can really help people with this.”