Category: News

Leeds childhood friends reunite to spark success

Two former childhood friends from Leeds have reunited to create an award-winning electrical business with a turnover of £2.5m.

Andy Stoner and Dan Coombe set up National Safety Inspections (NSI) in 2017 after spotting a gap in the market.  The company, which has just expanded into bigger offices, specialises in electrical testing for letting agents and landlords.

NSI employs 20 people at its headquarters in Armley, having taken over an extra floor just before Christmas to accommodate more staff, and has 25 engineers across the UK.

The pair, who used to walk to school together in Tingley, kept in touch even though Dan moved to Scotland and worked in sales. Andy, meanwhile, worked as an electrician and a lecturer in Leeds.

In 2017 a chance conversation led them to realise they had the perfect combination of skills to create a start-up, with Dan having extensive sales experience from medical sales to solar panels, and Andy having knowledge of electrical safety. Andy also knew that few companies specialised purely in electrical testing.

Dan said: “Out of the blue me and Andy spoke to each other about the idea of setting up and just offering testing, and then we just said, let’s do it. So, I moved back to Leeds.

“We were ambitious to be national even as a start-up. That’s why we called ourselves National Safety Inspections, even though we were just in a little office in the city.”

By the end of 2017 they had taken on three staff and were working for several student letting agencies. But then they realised a new law due to come in would open up even more opportunities. The new rules, which didn’t actually come in until June 2020, meant private sector landlords would have to carry out electrical checks every five years.

Andy said: “Student lets were pretty good at doing electrical checks, but the private sector needed to catch up. We realised if we were going to get the work we would have to scale up and get ahead of the game.”

That was when they turned to AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). They were successful in applying for two grants through the programme, one for £4,300 towards a comprehensive CRM system, and another of over £14,000 towards equipment, including laptops for engineers out on the road, and website development and SEO.

Andy Stoner and Dan Coombes outside the new NSI HQ

“Most electrical companies do testing as a side-line. They do it with a view to getting installation work. But we just do the testing and so we needed to put the resources into that and be able to do it well and efficiently,” said Andy.

By the start of 2020 Andy and Dan had 15 staff and had signed with several letting agencies. Then lockdown struck, but it turned out to be perfect timing.

Andy was invited to take part in an AD:VENTURE accelerator called Northern Max. Through that he was given a mentor who helped both him and Dan realise they needed to re-think their approach in order to successfully scale the business.

“It made us change focus. Rather than working in the business, it got us to allocate more time to working on the business. We could have stopped at 15 staff, but we wanted it to be bigger. So, we took on someone to do business development and two more sales staff,” said Andy.

The growth didn’t stop there. NSI finished 2020 with 45 staff, creating 30 new jobs through 2020, with engineers across Yorkshire, Lancashire, the north east, the midlands, and down to Reading and Oxford. And they have plans to extend into the rest of England and grow to 100 staff this year.

In 2019, and again in 2020, NSI won the best in sector for electrical services to the estates and lettings sector in the ESTAS awards, which are considered the Oscars of the industry.

Dan said: “It’s not bad for two lads from Tingley who used to climb over the fence to see each other and play out and walk together to school every day. I am not sure if you’d told us about this then we would have believed it could happen!”

AD:VENTURE’s  funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the region’s nine local authorities, and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the LEP and NP11, said:  “We really applaud what NSI have done; spotting a gap in the market and going for it. That is true entrepreneurship and something we really want to encourage. 

“By innovating in their business, Andy and Dan are creating the prosperity and the jobs that we need for the local economy. Their success shows that with a good idea, hard work and practical support it is possible to build a thriving business even in these difficult times, and to support the economic recovery.” 

To find out more about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

Small Business Sunday win for Sustainability Startup!

DH PROFESSIONAL SOLUTIONS SBS WINNER

A Yorkshire start-up who tweeted The Small Business Sunday competition this Sunday was given a massive boost when they were announced as one of the 6 national winners, reaching an audience of over 500K on Theo Paphitis’ #SBS twitter feed.

Danielle Heward, director and owner of DH Professional Solutions decided to enter the competition as a way to raise the profile of her growing start-up.

Danielle said “I’ve been working really hard to market my new business, and had seen the competition and benefits so I thought why not! I was over the moon when I saw the notification saying I was a winner, and I look forward to taking full advantage of the benefits it brings.

“The impact on my social media following was immediate, and I have already gained lots of new followers. I also know because it’s a business audience, it’s also reaching my target audience, which is great”

One of Danielle’s key business values is to make a difference; aiming to make the world a better place for our future generations, by providing business improvement services to social and eco focused businesses. It was this mission, detailed in Danielle’s tweet, that led to her being selected as a winner.

The weekly initiative, set up by Theo in 2010, now has over 2,500 #SBS winners and supports small businesses in the UK.

Anyone looking for a re‐tweet from Theo should tweet him about their business on Sunday between 5 PM and 7.30 PM and include the hashtag #SBS. Six lucky businesses are re‐tweeted every Monday at 8 PM and then invited to enter their profile on the new website, attend the annual #SBS networking event and take advantage of the networking opportunities.

Five Agency Trade Secrets for Building Brilliant Small Business Websites

Picture of the Other Things Agency

If you’re reading this then you’re probably thinking about building a website for your business. That’s a great start, because if you don’t have a website then you could be missing out on a ton of business that might not come your way otherwise.

Having a well-made website can help with the perception of your brand and help to build trust with your potential customers.

But where to begin? The team at my creative agency, Other Things, has built successful websites for some of the world’s biggest brands. We also work with start-ups that want a shortcut to website excellence.

When we did the brilliant AD:VENTURE Northern Max accelerator program last year, we met a lot of start-up founders who were looking for varying degrees of help with building their own websites. Should they make it themselves or get help from the professionals?

There’s no silver bullet to it, and every business is different, but there are a few bits of advice that apply to many if not most small business website builds.

I’m going to list some of them for you:

1) You CAN Build It Yourself

If you’ve got a social media profile and you know your way around the internet, you can build yourself a website. There are some well-established services out there (such as Wix, or Shopify if you’re looking for an online store) that will hold your hand through the process.

That said, it might be awful and do more harm than good for your brand. I mean, you could tailor yourself a cocktail dress if you really wanted to. Doesn’t mean it will be any good.

Still, if you stick to the pre-defined templates, have a decent eye for design and can string a meaningful sentence together then you should be able to create a simple website that meets your business’ needs.

2) You Don’t Have to Figure It All Out From Scratch

Take a look at your competitors and other businesses that you admire. What are they doing on their websites? What are they doing badly, and what are they doing well?

What ideas can you draw inspiration from that would work with your website and brand?

That’s not to say that you should create a carbon copy of a competitor’s website, or plagiarise their copy and messaging, but you will likely identify some things that you think they do well and then you can put your own spin on them.

3) .co.uk Might Not Be the Way

If the .com domain name that you want is not available, but the .co.uk one is, it still might not be the best option.

People searching for your brand will probably find you either way, but you will inevitably and inadvertently be sending traffic to the .com version of the website domain. Not great, especially if it’s a competitor or a brand that could be mistaken for yours.

It’s still worth buying the .co.uk domain if it’s going cheap, and if you only ever plan to trade in the UK, but better to rack your brains for that .com domain name. Common ways around this are to add ‘we are’ or ‘this is’ in front of a brand name e.g. weareyourbrandname.com

We experienced this at Other Things, and we opted to go for otherthingsagency.com (we also grabbed otherthings.xyz to be what’s known as a ‘vanity URL’, but that’s another story…)

4) Cut to the Chase

When people visit your website, what action do you want them to take or what opinion of your brand do you want them to leave with? Make the fulfilment of these things the filter for all of your website-related decisions.

But don’t beat around the bush. Keep your choice of words and messages short and to the point. Challenge yourself to say what you need to say in as few words as possible, right up front on the home page, so that visitors know exactly what your business offers straight away.

This is your website content, and visitors to your site will form an impression of your brand based upon it.

It’s an area where professional help might be worth investing in if you’ve no experience in writing or producing content for the web. But if you want to DIY then keep it simple. Avoid using crappy Word art or DIY sketches. Stock photography can be great, but some of it is very cheesy. If you don’t think you can tell the difference then rope in someone who can.

And make sure you proofread it ad nauseum. If you’re not confident in that area, have somebody who knows how to properly use an apostrophe take a look at it.

5) Don’t Try to Reinvent the Wheel

Usability is essentially how well people can use your product to achieve their goal, and websites more often than not are built to a format that is familiar to the average visitor so that they can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

At Other Things we love to see experimentation in this area, but if you’re looking to DIY build yourself a website for your business and you have little experience of doing such things then sticking to the ‘norms’ is your best bet. No need to reinvent the wheel. It will probably just confuse your visitors.

If you use a website building platform (such as Wix, Gator or Squarespace) there are templates and ‘themes’ that are put together with usability in mind. You won’t be winning awards for website innovation, but visitors to your site will have a better chance of navigating around your website nice and easily and developing a positive impression of your brand.

These platforms can also take care of some of the basic nuts and bolts stuff around hosting your website on the internet, and help you avoid pitfalls with potentially baffling things such as optimising it for mobile, SSL certificates, SEO and other acronyms.

So there you have it. The above is by no means comprehensive or universally true, but it might help set you on the right path if you’re considering how to build your small business website.

If you’re going DIY then keep things simple, utilise the templates and simplifying tools available to you and don’t go too left-field with your creative ideas. You’ll learn something and maybe even enjoy it.

And if it’s terrible, at least you tried. Give a good agency or freelancer a call and they’ll see you right.

Matt Hitchcock is the co-founder and Managing Director of Other Things, an alternative creative agency that specialises in producing disruptive advertising and marketing solutions for the gaming and entertainment industries.

www.otherthingsagency.com

Photo credit: Jodie Beardmore (www.jodiebeardmorephotography.co.uk)

Three young entrepreneurs from Yorkshire & the Humber win national award

Casey Woodward Agri Sound Founder

Three of this year’s Young Innovator Award winners, recently announced by Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust, are from Yorkshire & the Humber. Antoinette Adams, Michael Omotosho and Casey Woodward have started the new year with a boost after winning a coveted award for their new business projects.

The innovators from Yorkshire & the Humber looking to make the world a better place are:

  • Casey Woodward (29 years old), York – whose company AgriSound, uses the Internet of Things for the remote monitoring of beehives and allows beekeepers in Yorkshire to monitor the hives – from what their producing to the health of the colony – in real-time.
  • Antoinette Adams (29 years old) – whose founded JWEL, a jewellery company with a difference. Antoinette’s Mother Earth collection, for example, sees her collaborate with a community of reiki healers and yoga teachers, to create a bespoke chakra experience for the individual customer.
  • Michael Omotosho (28 years old) – whose Plugull, an electrical plug pull that makes it easier to remove stiff or fiddly plugs from sockets is designed to help those suffering from loss of dexterity and arthritis

The Young Innovators Awards recognise young people from across the UK with great business ideas who have the potential to become successful entrepreneurs and future leaders in innovation. Following an unprecedented level of entries, with an 87% increase in applications year-on-year, 64 young people have started the New Year with a boost after getting the coveted award, double the number of award winners/recipients of previous years. With recent research showing over a third of 18 to 34 year olds want to launch an independent enterprise in 2021, compared to 28% of 35 to 54 year olds, it’s even more important the support is available to those who want to venture into starting a business.

The winners from Yorkshire & the Humber, are three of 64 inspiring young people who will receive Young Innovators awards this year, each benefitting from a £5,000 grant, one-on-one business coaching and an allowance to cover living costs. The programme is set to continue awarding young people from diverse backgrounds until at least 2023. This year, 49% of the winners are female; nearly a third are Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority background; 17% have a disability and the projects cover all regions across the UK.

From a way to help stroke survivors on the road to rehabilitation to support for parents to protect their children online, all of this year’s Young Innovators have ideas that promise to address current challenges. Ideas this year span everything from technology to physical and mental health and from sustainability to fashion.

Commenting on their award and plug pull product helping those suffering from loss of dexterity and arthritis, Michael Omotosho said, “It is very easy to attach and use – and great for colour and cable management, with a glow in the dark option for night-time visibility. I would like the opportunity to grow my business idea and gain the support needed to achieve commercial success.”

Similarly, Casey Woodward, said, “We have developed a core line of products for beekeepers which enable real-time monitoring of beehive productivity and colony health, from any web browser, which are now sold via a UK distributor. I’ve applied for the programme to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and benefit from the diversity of businesses around us.”

Emily Nott, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Innovate UK says: “With 2020 proving to be an incredibly difficult year, maintaining our focus on Young Innovators was a priority for Innovate UK since finding the great entrepreneurial minds of the future is more important than ever. Working alongside this year’s winners, Innovate UK will help them grow and develop their business idea to make the world a better, and more innovative place. We can’t wait to see what they achieve this year.

Amanda Solloway Science Minister said: “While the past year has brought significant challenges for us all, it has also shone a light on the best of British ingenuity, with young people across the country harnessing their entrepreneurial spirit to help the UK respond to these challenges.

“From mobile apps supporting our brilliant NHS staff to online mentoring tools helping graduates find employment, the inspiring business ideas we are backing today will help to unleash our next generation of innovators as we build back better from the pandemic.

Details on all 64 Young Innovators can found here. If you’re an inspiring young innovator, check out how Innovate UK could support you here: https://ktn-uk.org/programme/young-innovators/

Saltaire therapy centre celebrates 1 year of improving the area’s mental health

The Victoria Therapy Centre opened in January 2020 to provide mental health services to those in and around the Shipley area.

Based in a prominent listed building on Victoria Road, the owners Neil and Helena Dowsland said: “We wanted to create a comfortable and purpose designed setting with a high street presence in order to make a visit to a psychotherapist or counsellor as easy to access as possible and as normal as a trip to the dentist.

The centre is a base for a number of qualified psychotherapists who offer a range of therapies including counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye-Movement De-sensitisation and Re-processing (EMDR).

Neil himself is a qualified psychotherapist: “Our team have a range of skills, qualifications and styles meaning we are able to cater for a wide range of clients whatever their individual needs.”

The Victoria Therapy Centre has also run a successful community event, Time To Change (time-to-change.org.uk), back in February where the centre was opened up to anyone passing for a cuppa, a piece of cake and a chat about mental health. The aim being to help end the stigma around the subject.

This start-up business is keen to thank Ravinder Panesar and the team at AD:VENTURE, an ERDF funded business start-up scheme offered through Bradford Council. “Rav and the team offered us some useful advice and insight initially on getting things up and running. It was important for us to hear an independent expert’s thoughts” said Helena.

 

However, little were the team to know on opening of the dramatic changes that were soon to make a huge impact on the nation’s mental health. As Helena said: “Not only have the fears surrounding COVID affected anxiety levels but the practical impact has affected our ability to access mental health services.”

Consequently, the therapists were quick to implement online therapy sessions during the initial lockdown so managed to continue many of its services throughout this period. However, the centre has now re-opened albeit with strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place.

Neil said: “The first year has been a real success despite the major setbacks and we are starting 2021 increasing our availability further and the range of therapies we offer enabling us to help more people.”

To find out more visit: www.victoriatherapycentre.co.uk

Elevate to give expert support to Kirklees businesses through University

ELEVATE overview

New business owners in Kirklees are being offered advice by academics at the University of Huddersfield as part of a new business support programme.

The fully funded Elevate programme is open to Kirklees’ businesses that are less than three years old, who have growth potential, and is backed by Kirklees Council.

The scheme, being delivered by the university’s Business School, offers eligible businesses the chance to attend masterclasses; receive intensive one-to-one support from university academics and business mentors; access grants and finance, and take part in peer to peer learning.

Cllr Peter McBride, Deputy Leader of Kirklees Council and the portfolio holder for business, said

“This programme will form an important part of the local ecosystem of business advice and the council is delighted to be providing support.

“At Kirklees Council we are passionate about supporting new and early stage businesses in their growth journey, as they play a critical role within the local economy. This is even more important now in light of the pandemic.”

Professor Jill Johnes, Dean of Huddersfield Business School, said: “Elevate is targeted at the leaders of young businesses with clear growth ambitions who are looking for some time and space outside of the business to think strategically.

“The programme introduces the concept of asking crucial questions of your business and the need to look at the opportunities for growth, the unforeseen challenges and obstacles, and their role in driving the business forward.”

Elevate will include four masterclasses, run by business school academics, covering:

  • Strategic contrariness – Explore the underlying strategic assumptions about your business.
  • Leading through infinite possibility – Reflect on the dynamic capabilities of leadership and understanding the role of the leader in changing and uncertain times.
  • The curious mind-set – Understand the value of open innovation, curiosity and creativity in unlocking growth.
  • New economy and customers – Challenge your marketing assumptions, harness the power of your networks and segment your market for the 21st Century.

These sessions are supported by a programme of intensive one-to-one support, delivered by experienced business coaches, with the whole programme due to start late February to early March 2021.

The programme is run by AD:VENTURE, which is part- funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supports pre-start and new businesses which have ambitions for growth. Since AD:VENTURE started at the end of 2016 it has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved more than 330 grants.

Among those who have received help from AD:VENTURE is Huddersfield-based Torchbearer Interactive, which has seen its turnover more than treble in the past year and moved to a larger office.

Co-founder Pete Waugh said: “AD:VENTURE are always pointing us in the direction of schemes we can join and grants we can apply for. To anyone who’s looking for business support, I’d say be willing to engage with people who have advice and expertise, look at all the opportunities available to you through the programme and take advantage of them.”

AD:VENTURE’s other partners include the region’s other eight local authorities; the Business Enterprise Fund; the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and the Chambers of Commerce.

For more information about the Elevate programme click HERE

AD:VENTURE sees demand up by nearly a third in 2020

AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region since it was started at the end of 2016. And this year the enquiries have been up by around 30 per cent. 

Programme manager Sarah Carling said: “We have seen an increase in demand for the programme since lockdown. 

“We have continued to deliver support throughout the year, adapting to deliver virtually where this was needed. Despite the pressures of an extremely challenging business climate, we have seen incredible resilience from the businesses we work with, and a real determination to keep moving and adapting in order to survive and grow. 

We found that one to one advice has been more important than ever, giving the business owners we support a much needed sounding board, but also helping with crucial issues like adapting their business models to cope with current challenges and accessing government funding.”  

This year AD:VENTURE, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has run 116 events, mainly online, to over 1300 delegates. Topics have included strategic marketing, building effective sales, pitching your business and podcasting.  

Since its launch AD:VENTURE has paid out  336 grants totalling just over £1.7m , including funds for purchasing vital equipment and refurbishing premisesThe programme also offers mentoring and support from experts and academics via masterclasses and one-to-one support. 

AD:VENTURE’s  funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the region’s nine local authorities. 

In 2020 the support has included ‘Northern Max 3’ which was launched in April in Bradford and helped  21 businesses with a mix of masterclasses and mentoring; Accelerate which was run by Leeds Beckett University and helped 40 new and young businesses; the ‘Survive and Thrive’ programme in Wakefield, which is supporting a variety of start-ups in developing and adapting their businesses to tackle Covid-19 challenges. New schemes are planned for 2021 including one for businesses in Kirklees. 

Sarah said: “Consultation with clients and ongoing feedback and engagement enables us to adapt our delivery to meet the needs of our start-ups as they change. 

“Heading into 2021 we know times are still tough for many businesses and we will still be here for ambitious entrepreneurs to help them on their journey. We know their success ultimately leads to the success of the city region.” 

There are eligibility criteria and some sectors, including retail, are not eligible; but businesses that have been supported come from a variety of sectors, including Agri-Tech, Fin-Tech, Med-Tech, health and wellbeing, digital, healthy food manufacturing and eco-construction.  

One of the businesses benefiting from the programme is Proper Oats, set up by former accountant and body builder Suzanne Ferreira, from York. 

The ready-to-eat overnight oats are now stocked in various farm shops, on Amazon Fresh, and at Sourced Market at Skelton Lake Services motorway services near Leeds and at St Pancras Station in London 

Suzanne, who went on the Accelerate programme, said: “When people think of business support they think of funding, but the expert advice you get is invaluable. They have specialist knowledge in different areas, which would be hard to access if you don’t have the funds to pay for it.” 

For more information on AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/ 

Northern Max backing Bradford startups for 2021

Young digital and technology focussed firms in Bradford are being encouraged to sign up for a free business support programme to help them accelerate their growth.

The popular Northern Max Accelerator, launching early 2021, will be delivered online and is for businesses that are pre-start or less than three years old with growth ambitions.

The programme will offer a range of practical support and provides opportunities to access grants, specialist workshops, and expert mentoring over ten weeks, as well as the chance to pitch for potential investment at the end of the programme. Delegates will also benefit from the support and expertise of Rav Panesar, Digital Enterprise Advisor at Bradford Council.

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This programme has already proved itself with some tangible success stories, so we are delighted it is being offered to businesses again.

“Times are really hard for small businesses right now and we are determined to give them the support they need to survive and grow. A buoyant economy is so important to the city and to the region, and never more so than in these times of Covid.”

Twenty one companies took part in the Northern Max programme when it was run earlier this year. Seven of the businesses were supported to bring a product to market; four were successful in applying for AD:VENTURE grant funding of more than £14,000, and one was supported to apply for a £50,000 Bounceback loan. In total the cohort created 13 new jobs.

Many of the companies also forged formal and informal collaborations, such as sharing best practice, sharing contacts and making plans to bid collaboratively for tenders.

Among those who have benefited from the Northern Max programme is Rachel Mather, who launched her bid consultancy firm &Mather early in 2020 and had this to say about her experience

Rachel said: “This is such a brilliant programme for any digital tech business owner seeking to become stronger, scale up and continue to grow. It’s immersive, experiential, thought provoking, and delivered by an incredible range of leaders, mentors and peers”

Masterclasses and one to one mentoring will be available using a host of business experts including Sharon Jandu of The Northern Asian power list and Jag Panesar of Xpand Marketing. In addition there will be weekly workshops on key topics including developing your business model; business goal setting; partnerships and collaborations; business finance, and funding and growth strategies.

Northern Max Accelerator will be delivered virtually by Greenborough Business Management’s 10×10 accelerator programme in partnership with Bradford Council and AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Since AD:VENTURE started at the end of 2016 it has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved more than 160 grants.

To register your interest or for more details on the Northern Max Accelerator, visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/northernmaxaccelerator/

For more details about AD:VENTUIRE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

Leeds professional dancer goes back to class

A professional dancer who has performed in the Lion King on Broadway has gone back to class in Leeds after re-assessing her own life. 

Leonora Stapleton now runs Be Body Aware, which encourages people to use dance and exercise for their own well-being. The company, which is being supported by AD:VENTURE, a programme for new businesses in West and North Yorkshire, was started in 2019, but its roots go back much further. 

Leonora was a successful contemporary dancer in New York when the 9/11 disaster happened. The tragedy, and a mugging a few weeks later, left her feeling dazed, but it was several years before she realised the full impact. Then in 2017, just a short time after her mother died, Leonora was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. 

In January 2018 I decided to have a mastectomy and went through a massive sense of shame and loss. The reality struck deep in my soul,” said Leonora. 

I had to come to terms with all the layers of the deep wounds I had suppressed. In addition, I recognised the resilience I had developed. Even though my life had changed from 2001, most of the time I had remained optimistic, despite my trauma. 

The breast cancer treatment left Leonora facing feelings of shame about her body and led her to thinking about how we feel about our own bodies. This experience set the seeds for Be Body Aware, which she started in October last year. 

Leonora runs classes and workshops on body image, dance and fitness for wellbeing, and body shaming. She took her work into schools across Leeds and was targeting colleges, universities and businesses before lockdown struck. She is now running dance classes on Zoom, but looking forward to returning to face-to-face work and building up her client base. 

But she admits the idea may not have got off the drawing board if it was not for the support from AD:VENTURE, which helps new businesses and those under three years old. 

“I came to them with literally one page of an idea and I wanted to run with that idea. But they helped me realise it is marathon not a sprint and I needed to plan properly, starting with a business plan,” said Leonora, who has had support from an AD:VENTURE business mentor and has attended several workshops, on topics like marketing and pitching. 

And despite being an experienced dancer, choreographer, speaker and a qualified teacher, who has a Masters degree in leadership and management, Leonora admits her confidence had been at rock bottom when she started the company. 

The breast cancer had really hit my self-confidence, but AD:VENTURE helped me create the foundations for the business and gave me the belief to do it, she said. 

AD:VENTURE is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and has funding and delivery partners across the Leeds City Region which include the region’s nine local authorities. 

Sarah Carling AD:VENTURE programme manager,  said: Leonora’s story is an inspiration. It shows that with the right encouragement and advice entrepreneurs can find the strength and resilience to start and grow a successful business, even after difficult times.  

“We know that having the right support means businesses are more likely to survive and grow, which is why particularly now in the challenging times we are all living through the help, advice and support AD:VENTURE can offer are so important.” 

Leonora agrees. “Having a business adviser is like having a guide every step of the way. They are along for the ride! As an artist my brain goes everywhere, but having someone there helps me focus on what actions I need to take. 

“Sometimes in business you stumble. So, it’s great knowing someone is only a phone call away as you embark on your own adventure, she said. 

For more information about Be Body Aware go to https://bebodyaware.co.uk/ 

To find out more about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/ 

BRADFORD BASED POWER SHEDS WINS PRESTIGIOUS LLOYDS BANK NATIONAL BUSINESS AWARD

Bradford Based Power Sheds was announced winner of the ‘Best New Business’ at the prestigious 2020 Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, which took place during a glittering online ceremony on 10 November.  Power Sheds were amongst a number of companies honoured at the event including a Formula One team and a TV baker.

The is the latest national award Power Sheds have won in 2020 following the eBay award for innovation and a Great British Entrepreneur award. Power Sheds, based on the Euroway Trading Estate, launched in 2019 manufacturing garden sheds.

Jack Sutcliffe, CEO of Power Sheds, said “We are enormously proud to have won a Lloyds Bank National Business Awards – this award represents the culmination of our hard work and dedication over the last 12 months.”

The Lloyds Bank Award Judges added “This is an exceptional growth story. Power Sheds has a good, innovative product and is tapping into a lucrative market. It was a clear winner.”

“2020 has been a challenging but inspiring year; a year where we’ve witnessed just how innovative and adaptive the UK business community can be, whether that means helping employees adjust to new ways of working or shifting production towards masks, ventilators and handwash. This year’s winners are testament to the creativity, agility and resilience that sets British business apart,” said Sarah Austin, Awards Director.

“When it comes to business recognition, the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards really are the ones to win, allowing successful individuals and organisations to tell their story, from large private and public companies, to thriving entrepreneurial businesses, promising start-ups and established SMEs, and what fantastic stories they are.”

Visit www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk for more information.