A pioneering project aimed at helping people across Derby and Derbyshire to start their own business will continue throughout 2021 to support workers affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The D2 Business Starter Programme was launched in January 2017 to help people move into self-employment and develop their ideas into commercially viable businesses.
Through a series of themed workshops and one-to-one support from expert advisers, the programme aims to equip participants with the practical knowledge and skills they need to get up and running.
The programme is funded by Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council and delivered by East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), the region’s leading business organisation.
So far, it has supported more than 1,000 people and helped to create more than 190 new businesses and 220 new jobs. More than 10,000 hours of free support have been provided to those taking part.
Due to the success of the scheme, it has been extended into 2021 and an online taster session, to give would-be entrepreneurs the opportunity to find out more, takes place between 4pm and 5pm on 27 January.
Paul Stuart, the Chamber’s head of enterprise, said: “The D2 Business Starter Programme has been a huge success since launching in 2017 and has helped many people across Derby and Derbyshire to take the leap into self-employment and start their own businesses.
“We’re delighted to be able to continue to offer this free support throughout 2021, to help even more people follow their dreams and make their business ideas a reality.”
What does the D2 Starter Programme involve?
An individual, tailored package of support is offered to each person taking part in the programme. It includes one-to-one mentor support and a series of workshops, led by experienced professionals and designed to complement the mentoring sessions.
Workshops include subjects such as an introduction to self-employment, marketing, business planning, book-keeping and social media.
The next workshop programme kicks off on 3 February.
There are no costs for those taking part. The only eligibility criteria are that people wishing to access the programme’s free support have a Derby or Derbyshire postcode and the desire to start a business.
Derby-based CRZyBest, a maker of eco-friendly bespoke jewellery, gifts and accessories, was one of the first businesses supported by the programme.
Its founder, Claire Zwozny-Bestwick, enrolled on the programme to learn more about the fundamentals of starting a business, finance, sales and marketing, along with setting short and long-term objectives and developing and refining a business plan.
Over the past year, she has moved the business full-time into a purpose-built workshop in her garden, as well as investing time in developing her website and social media presence in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and diversifying her product offering to suit a more online audience.
Claire said: “The support I received was really useful in giving me the confidence and the skills to follow my dream of setting up in business.
“It also provided a vital support network and has enabled me to keep accessing advice and support to continue to grow the business.
“The past year has been all about adapting what I do to what’s been happening in the world, so I’ve had the time to learn some new skills and focus on improving my website and online presence.”
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Business founded by furloughed employee receives support from D2 Starter Programme
Coffee lover Matthew Hilton-Webb, meanwhile, founded his business, The Cloth Filter Co, while on furlough from his job in nature conservation in the High Peak, last summer.
He manufactures and sells handmade coffee filters online and enrolled on the programme in September. His business took off after a major coffee roastery in London placed a bulk order for his products and started recommending them on social media.
Matthew said: “The programme gave me a good grounding in the basics of running my own business and helped fill in some gaps in knowledge.
“I love coffee and tried making my own cloth filters after seeing a few videos online about the difference compared to paper ones.
“I had a lot of time on my hands because of the pandemic, but quickly realised there was a gap in the UK for the products I make, so what started as a hobby quickly became a full-time business.”
Businesses wanting to find out more and register for the online taster session can do so at www.pushthebuttontoday.com.