After a long and successful career in the retail industry, Vicky Powell-Carden decided to start her own retail consultancy businesses.
With years of experience working for high street names and establishing brands in retail giants such as Home Bargains, Pound Stretcher, Matalan and Liverpool Football Club, Vicky approached the Chamber with a plan to build a business around a niche in the market.
She said: “I set up RBQ Consultancy and I work with a vast range of businesses from SMEs and Start-Ups to established retail and product based businesses. I provide training to SMEs to help them get off to a good start and increase their sales and also increase their sourcing. I also produce online training materials like Webinars and ebooks.”
Although Vicky came to the Chamber with bags of experience and an idea of what she wanted her business model to be, her Start Up adviser was able to work with her to improve the business model.
The St Helens Chamber Start Up service has helped thousands of people to make the dream of running a business a reality. The advisers offer business planning advice and specialist mentor support.
Vicky made good use of these services and also attended the Chamber’s Understanding Enterprise course to strengthen her skills. She was eligible to receive the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA), which provides a package of support to people who want to get back into work through self-employment.
Vicky said: “When I first came to the Chamber I was focusing on one to one work with clients and realised that there was only a finite amount of time in the day to work with them one on one. I thought about how I could upscale the business and decided to offer group training sessions.
“Since receiving support from St Helens Chamber’s Start Up team, my business has developed on the training side of things. I have just completed my certificate in training and adult education and am currently looking at how technology can support and streamline my business.”
Vicky was initially concerned that working from home would distance her from what was going on in the retail industry and that she wouldn’t have anyone to share her ideas with. But the support she has received from the Start Up team has bridged that gap.
Vicky said: “Although I work from home, I like to get out an about to see what’s happening with the retail industry on the high street and in craft industry, I make sure I am update to with everything that’s going in in the retail sector.
“I’ve had a lot of support from St Helens Chamber in terms of one to one meetings, attending networking events and going on courses. It was really useful to work through ideas together in one to one sessions, and I was able to use the Chamber as a sounding board.
“When you work for yourself you can become clouded in your viewpoints, so having face to face meetings at the Chamber really helped me to clarify things and start to visualise how I could take things forward.”
Looking to the future, Vicky is confident that her business will grow and even has plans to take on a member of staff to help with administration and social media duties. She would urge people thinking of taking the leap into self-employment to make use of the services on offer from St Helens Chamber.
She said: “I would absolutely recommend the Start Up service. I was never made to feel like my business didn’t have the potential for success.”
For more information about the support available from St Helens Chamber to start a business, call 0845 340 9980, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.sthelenschamber.com/startup
If you are unemployed and thinking of starting a business, speak to your Job Centre Plus adviser for more information about the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme.