Tag: Business Support

5 Top Tips for Creating a Resilient Business

If the events of the past few months have taught us anything, it is that the world of business has shifted irrevocably.

Whole industries mothballed, household names brought to their knees, and entirely new business models forced on us with either days or even hours notice.

Whether we wanted to or not, we have all become practitioners in managing change, and it is some small comfort that we are very much all in this together.

However, some businesses will ride out the storm better than others and, more often than not, it will be because they have a more resilient business model. Granted, some of them will just be lucky, but there’s nothing wrong with making your own luck, so here’s our 5 top tips for creating a more resilient business.

No. 1 – Have a plan

It sounds obvious, but if you’re going to navigate your way through the numerous challenges we’re all facing right now, you need a plan. Not a 50 page essay that sits in a folder and never sees the light of day, but some clear direction of travel, a few top level metrics of how you can measure your progress, and some financial guidelines that let you know you’re doing the best job you can.

The best plans are re-visited regularly, updated and tweaked, but nevertheless they act as a sanity check on why you’re in business in the first place, and what you want out of it. Don’t be afraid to get a one-page version printed out and display it visibly in the workplace, because the best plans are the ones that the whole business signs up to, and where everyone knows what their role is.

No. 2 – It’s all about the money

Don’t let anyone kid you that money isn’t important because the tougher times get, the more important it becomes. Lenders love giving money to successful businesses, which is usually when you don’t need it, but you just try securing some funding when your numbers aren’t where they should be, as thousands of SMEs have found to their cost over the past few weeks.

From pre-arranged overdrafts to asset-based loans, there are several ways to inject cash into the business. By far the best approach though, is to be self-funding. This means being careful with any spare cash, making sure you build up a decent buffer to protect you from unforeseen circumstances, and if you own the business – don’t be too greedy.

No. 3 – Let your fingers do the walking

Those of a certain age will remember this slogan from a Yellow Pages ad (an old style, paper version of Google my Business!), but today it serves as a reminder to harness technology to save you any unnecessary legwork.

From cloud-based project management and accounting platforms, to automated inventory updates and e-commerce transactions, technology allows us to focus our efforts where they are most needed, and not on day to day admin. Plus, a leaner business is a more resilient one, thanks to lower overheads and a more agile business model.

No. 4 – Fail fast and succeed early

One of the key tenets of running an innovative, and therefore more resilient, business is to be open to trying new things, but also ring fencing those experiments so that they don’t bring the company down with them.

Don’t be scared to ask the market what it wants, and then trial your answer to see if you can make it work. Revise and re-iterate your products as you go, but above all else bear in mind that good enough is fine when you’re developing new products or services. And when the going gets tough remember – James Dyson built over 5000 prototypes before his first vacuum cleaner was a hit!

No. 5 – There’s no I in Team

It’s one of the oldest adages around when it comes to building a successful business – surround yourself with people who are better than you.  In these times of constant change and flux, you need to know that your team is on it, so recruit carefully and work hard to make them happy.

From instilling the right culture and values, to developing a world beating staff retention programme, it is your team who will help you pull through when it all goes wrong – your job is to help them to help you!

Free Support!

If you’d like a raft of free support in building a more resilient business to cope with our ever changing world, AD:VENTURE’s Survive & Thrive programme is now available to businesses in the Wakefield District.

If you’re an SME based within the Wakefield District area, predominantly working in the B2B arena or looking to grow that market and have been established less than 3 years, then we’d love to help you.

Find out more here, or watch our explainer video below!

Wakefield agency turns over £680,000 in first year

A Wakefield marketing agency celebrated its first birthday with a turnover that has already reached £680,000.

bolt, which has its headquarters at the Junction workspace in Horbury, Wakefield, has grown its team from two to 16 since setting up in summer 2019. This has included taking on an apprentice, with plans to take on two more apprentices and other staff by the end of 2020.

The agency also has offices in London and Macedonia and a new location in Warsaw in Poland, which has begun hiring.

bolt specialises in growth marketing, website design, customer relationship management (CRM) and branding for high-performing professional service organisations, including financial services, tech, engineering and commercial real estate.

To support its expansion plans within the Leeds City Region, bolt has received mentoring through AD:VENTURE – a programme which helps pre-start and new businesses with growth potential in West and North Yorkshire including offering mentoring, events and access to finance.

bolt was set up by business partners James Coughlan and Jamie Clifton. The pair met in 2013 while working for a direct marketing agency in London.

James Coughlan, head of operations at bolt, said: “At bolt it’s our aim to become integral to a client’s business, helping them with client acquisition and growing their company profits. In our first year of trading we’ve been successful in securing contracts around the world, but it’s always been our aim to create a name for bolt closer to home.

“AD:VENTURE has opened doors for us by introducing us to local networks and contacts which have been invaluable in growing our operation in Wakefield and attracting talent in the region. Everyone at AD:VENTURE have been genuinely invested in our growth strategy which has really helped us develop as a business. We’re looking forward to working with them into the future.”

Cllr Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said: “bolt is a fantastic example of the type of ambitious company that we are so proud to have here in Wakefield. They are creating jobs and boosting the local economy even in these difficult times.

“And it is important that we do our bit to support them, which is why the AD:VENTURE programme is so vital.”

Since AD:VENTURE started in early 2017, the programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has helped nearly 4,000 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved over 160 grants to help start-up businesses grow.

Partners of AD:VENTURE include the region’s nine local authorities, the Business Enterprise Fund and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, with businesses also able to access academic input through programmes delivered by higher education partners, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University.

Self storage company beats lockdown thanks to tech

A family-run self-storage company that opened in York just nine months ago has kept ahead of the competition, thanks to investing in online resources. 

Go Store self storage was set up by Rory Windham, his uncle Norman Galbraith and his cousin Jamie Galbraith, and offers storage space for people and businesses at its premises at Monk’s Cross Drive in York.  

The 900 storage units range from the size of a car boot to a squash court, and everything in between. In total the facility offers rentable spaces in 35 different sizes. 

Before and during the lockdown, thanks to grants of just over £11,000 from business support programme AD:VENTURE, the company had invested in IT improvements, such as VoIP telephones; website development, including dynamic pricing and booking; with plans for an online facility to sign contracts digitally, thus removing the need to meet face to face. 

The technology means Rory and the team can manage the facility remotely, allowing monitored access for customers and enabling the site to operate safely under Covid19 restrictions 

“It was a bit of a stroke of luck that we had all this in place for lockdown. It means the business was immediately more resilient and able to offer something many larger and more established storage sites couldn’t do,” said Rory. 

“We are competing against the big boys with deep pockets and the grants meant we can actually compete on that level. The new technology has helped us remain ahead of the market, and business is continuing to grow as we ease out of lockdown and the restrictions. 

The funding from AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)has also paid for high-quality furniture for the reception area to give customers a better experience.  

Go Store has created three jobs so far. But Rory says it has also helped create and support about ten other jobs indirectly, as local people use the site as a storage base for their e-commerce businesses.  

Rory and Norman had operated a similar business in the North East, before selling that to a national operator. 

They wanted to move to York as they saw a gap in the market for self-storage and took several years to acquire a suitable location; on a busy road by a retail park and popular drive-thru restaurants.  

“We wanted a visible site as we knew from previous experience that works so much better than being tucked away round the back of an industrial park,” said Rory. 

Councillor Andrew Waller, portfolio holder for Economy and Strategic Planning at York City Council, said “Go Store Self Service Ltd are an excellent example of how start-ups are contributing to the city’s economic growth and these will be vital to our recovery. It’s an incredibly challenging time for all businesses, so to see a young company continuing to grow and create and support jobs despite the impact of Covid-19 is a much needed boost for everyone.  

Supporting our new and growing firms is an essential part of our wider growth strategy, and we are proud to partner with AD:VENTURE to offer this much needed support to help our young firms to thrive. 

Support available to businesses from AD:VENTURE also includes professional workshops, incubator office space, director networks and specialist sector advice. To qualify for AD:VENTURE support businesses must be less than three-years-old or pre-start.  

AD:VENTURE’s  funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include Make it York and West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce 

To find out more about Go Store Self Storage go to https://www.gostore.co.uk/ and for AD:VENTURE please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk  

Entrepreneur hits right notes with Leeds app company

An entrepreneur who switched from classical music to app and web development is hitting all the right notes with his Leeds company looking to top £1m turnover.

Sam Ducker, who came to the city to study music, set up Lucky Duck in 2017 after deciding there were not many career opportunities playing the clarinet. The company now employs eight people full-time, is moving into new offices in Mabgate and has an office in London.

Lucky Duck works with some of the biggest, household-name tech companies in the world designing apps and complex websites. Its expansion has been supported by AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Despite the lockdown Sam plans to take on four new employees this year and a further five next year. Turnover is expected to double this year from £350,000 to £700,000 and top £1m by the end of next year.

Sam says he has been entrepreneurial since he was a child; he sold sweets to his classmates at school, and has always wanted to run his own business. But he spent several years working for companies in web and app development before studying at Leeds College of Music

Sam said: “When I graduated I worked out there are literally only a handful of professional clarinet players in the country; so I went back to my plan of setting up a business.

“I was tempted by the idea of running a bar, but I had always been fascinated by the internet. Fourteen years ago my older brother who was an aerospace engineer said I should get into maths, physics and programming, and learn how to work with computers and technology.  So, I have him to thank.”

Lucky Duck was launched by Sam in his bedroom and soon grew. But Sam admits he was not so good at the admin side of the business.

“That’s where AD:VENTURE came to my help. They literally sat me down and helped me do all the stuff like accounts, sales and funding applications. And I had a brilliant mentor who has helped me every step of the way,” said Sam.

“I really can’t say enough good things about the AD:VENTURE programme. They are there for you to help your business thrive and they really encourage entrepreneurship in the region.”

As well as one to one mentoring, Sam has been helped with access to funding, including an AD:VENTURE grant of £2700 that supported a digital marketing campaign and purchase of virtual meeting kit to help the business adapt and thrive during lockdown.

Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer of Economic Development at Leeds City Council said “Lucky Duck are an excellent example of how digital start-ups are contributing to the region’s economic growth. It’s an incredibly challenging time for all businesses, so to see a young company thriving and creating new jobs is a positive boost for everyone. Supporting new and growing firms is an important aspect of our wider growth strategy, and we are proud to partner with AD:VENTURE to offer much needed support to help our young firms in achieving their ambitions”

Support available to businesses from AD:VENTURE also includes professional workshops, accelerators, grant funding, access to networks and specialist sector advice. To qualify for AD:VENTURE support businesses must be less than three-years-old or pre-start.

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

To find out more about Lucky Duck go to https://luckyduck.digital/ and for AD:VENTURE https://ad-venture.org.uk/

ACCELERATE Goes virtual to boost business recovery

Leeds Beckett University is urging the regions young businesses to sign up for the third cohort of its popular accelerator programme.

Launching in late July, ACCELERATE has been reshaped to address the impacts of COVID 19 and will give SMEs in the Leeds City Region expert help and advice to regain control, build resilience and prepare to embrace the new business landscape.

Businesses accessing the support through Accelerate will benefit from a series of 6 pre-recorded Masterclasses covering key topics such as Re-setting the Business, Re-connecting with Customers and Moving my Finances Forward, all of which can be accessed flexibly as a result of the new virtual delivery style.

The programme also includes a weekly live webinar to explore the Masterclass topics, giving businesses the opportunity to discuss the topics with an academic lead and other businesses taking part.

Those taking part will also have exclusive access to 15 hours of one to one mentoring, supported by guided learning tasks and access to a resource library to help them develop their own Action Plan for recovery.

In addition to this comprehensive offer , ACCELERATE will also provide access to wider University support including student and graduate talent via recruitment, internships and placements and opportunities to collaborate on research projects.

As part of the wider AD:VENTURE business support programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development fund, there will also be opportunity for delegates to access advice and support in applying for grants and funding.

Kirstie Frenneaux, project manager at Leeds Beckett University says, “In these uncertain times, we want to help businesses regain focus, provide them with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions and give them the confidence and support to get their business back on track’’

Helen Hepworth, founder of Collective Stories Agency said this about her experience of ACCELERATE “I can’t praise it enough. It’s challenging and the content is very strategically driven. You will think of things you have never considered before. There are a lot of lightbulb moments!

It brings focus and clarity and it gave me the tools and skills I needed to scale up. It also introduced me to a lot of other outside agencies too which has been invaluable”

The Accelerate programme is available to organisations that are aiming to grow and create jobs in the Leeds City Region; deliver products or services to other businesses rather than direct to the consumer; and any organisations looking for a structured programme, with flexible one to one support.

For further details about the Accelerate programme or to register your interest, please visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/unisupport/accelerate/

Northern Max 3 Hits the halfway point on virtual delivery and top marks on results!

The Northern Max 3 programme is now over half-way, having just delivered its 6th workshop, 3rd masterclass and 2nd ‘speed dating’ meeting.  The programme is taking the 15-strong cohort through a very intensive workshop schedule where there has been a lot of self-assessment and analysis resulting in some startling revelations about themselves!

The cohort have been working collectively throughout the programme and have already developed relationships that will continue post the 10-week programme.

Week 3 delivered by Sara Scott focused on route to markets and the core elements that make up, influence and affect a business’ brand.

Alison Bull, Founder of Tandem Agency delivered week 4’s workshop and built on the foundations of Sara’s session looking at profiling the customer.

Lisa Grogan, co-CEO of Overlap Associates addressed the cohort from Canada about user-centred design to develop strategies, plans and a way of solving problems and the principles of how she started and grew her business as well as juggling a family life.

Week 5 featured Paula Finch talking about people and resources, where she led the group through a shared understanding of the principles of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and how this is critical to building work teams.

Week 6 started with Sankar Sivarajah, Head of School of Management at Bradford University talking all things circular economy, partnerships and the importance of inclusive strategies.  Annabelle Beckwith followed the masterclass with her session on Partnerships and Collaborations and the importance of finding the right business partner – along with the horror stories!

Initial feedback from participants has all been positive, some highlights below:

“It helped me to think about what my audiences are looking for and how to speak to them in a way that will make them take action”

“the presentation skills really made me think about my own development and how I can look to improve how I interact with people”

Northern Max 3, is a specialist business support programme for digital and technology firms in the Leeds/Bradford area.  This fully funded business support programme, running across a period of ten weeks, started on 23 April.  Northern Max 3 is being 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 funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It forms part of AD:VENTURE’s pledge to continue to support businesses using online tools despite the pandemic.

For more details on the Northern Max 3 programme, visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/northernmax3

COVID-19 Business Support

UPDATED 9.6.2020

We are regularly updating this page to keep you updated on the latest guidance and support relating to Covid-19.

There is a lot of information and support available, and if you need guidance on any aspect, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

One-To One support

For current clients, please get in touch if you are need advice or support. If you are not sure who your advisor is, you can email support@ad-venture.org.uk 

New clients, register at www.ad-venture.org.uk/register 

Workshops and Events

AD:VENTURE events scheduled for the foreseeable future will be delivered in a virtual way to enable us to continue delivering this valuable workshop content to you.

We are still keeping numbers limited and ensuring you have the opportunity to interact, so please check and book your places so you do not miss out.

The first webinars are now LIVE and can be booked via the events page

***NEW UPDATES***

Government launches NHS Test and Trace Service

Details of the Test and Trace service can be viewed HERE.

NHS Test and Trace – workplace guidance

Details of the Test and Trace work place guidance can be viewed HERE.

Working safely during COVID-19

The Government has produced ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. The new guidance covers eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways.

WIDER NATIONAL AND REGIONAL SUPPORT AVAILABLE:

Regional Support:

For information and support, businesses in Leeds City Region concerned or affected by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) can contact the LEP Business Support Service by:

Completing our online enquiry form

Calling the LEP business support helpline on 0113 348 1818

Emailing BusinessSupport@the-lep.com

Due to a high volume of emails and phone calls, you may some experience delays getting through, but please be assured that they will respond to all enquires as soon as possible.

Regional support for businesses

LEP Business Support Service

Businesses can benefit from investment to purchase equipment, plant and machinery, digital equipment, develop new products and process, and save money on their energy bills through more efficient use of energy, water and waste. For more information, please contact the LEP Business Support Service or visit the-lep.com/support to learn about the support available.

Peer-to-peer support programme

In partnership with Biskit, the LEP is delivering a series of free weekly peer-to-peer online sessions, providing businesses across the City Region an opportunity to share ideas, raise issues, gain new insights and collaborate. Find out more and sign up.

COVID-19 Business Grant Programme

The LEP may be able to support your business if you are making capital investments to manufacture or supply products to the NHS and wider health supply chain. For more information, please contact the LEP Business Support Service.

Free one-to-one business coaching sessions

The LEP is working with business professionals to co-ordinate free coaching sessions to help SMEs formulate and implement contingency plans for this period and beyond. Coaches will work with companies to diagnose issues affecting them at the moment including people, suppliers and customers, finance and premises. Email us to access this support.

Supply chain support 

The University of Huddersfield has a team of supply chain experts who can help businesses to get more out of their supplier arrangements and enhance their positions within existing supply chains. This can include a deep dive analysis of current supply chains and supplier capacity, the introduction of new supply chain models to reduce risk and enhance quality, and the sourcing of more local suppliers. Email businesssupport@the-LEP.com for more information.

Business resilience programme

In partnership with Winning Pitch, we have launched the business resilience programme to support businesses owners through free one-to-one coaching and consultancy support and a series of webinars and leadership groups. Take our resilience test to help us to understand how we can best support you and your business. For more information about this programme, email businessresilience@winning-pitch.co.uk.

Digital Knowledge Exchange (DKE)

DKE has launched a new webinar series for businesses. The series is designed to support businesses striving to become best placed when the nation returns to business as usual. The webinars provide expert insights on the use of digital solutions to increase productivity and competitiveness during the lockdown. Topics cover customer engagement, business resilience, content marketing and digital marketing strategy. Find out more and sign up.

AD:VENTURE

Start-ups and young businesses in their first three years of trading can access online support. AD: VENTURE is delivering free webinars on marketing, sales, working remotely, social media and more, to help business owners to utilise their time at home to grow their business. View all webinars.

PAPI – Product and Process Innovation

PAPI helps small businesses in York, North Yorkshire, East Riding and Leeds City Region develop innovative new products by providing grants for equipment.

Visit https://www.papi.org.uk/

The Employment Hub

Whether you need to recruit quickly to keep up with the demands of COVID-19 or you have employees at risk of redundancy, the Employment Hub can help your business through free impartial support.

  • Quickly find new employees through the Employment Hub talent matching service. Tell us your recruitment needs and we will find and introduce you to candidates suitable for the role.
  • Access support for employees who are at risk of or facing redundancy. Refer staff to the Employment Hub where we can support them in finding alternative employment.

If you need help with either of these issues, please book a free introduction call with a business engagement officer who will discuss your needs and offer you a tailored package of support. Find out more and book a call today.

Skills Service

Access to online learning, and financial incentives to undertake training, via the further education (FE) colleges of the City Region and private providers. Find out more.

Investment Readiness: webinar programme

The LEP is delivering a series of six free webinars to help businesses to understand government support schemes and the range of investment options available to help with the impact of COVID-19.

The 90-minute webinars are practical and led by experts from Garbutt + Elliott and Grant Thornton. All sessions are live and include an opportunity for Q&A.

Webinars are delivered by Winning Pitch on behalf of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, Investment Readiness programme. Find out more and sign up.

Manufacturing Recovery Plan

Developed by the University of Huddersfield in collaboration with the LEP and key strategic partners, the scheme supports manufacturing SMEs across Leeds City Region to recover and build long-term resilience with a three-stage approach; stabilise, recover, growth. Find out more.

Department for International Trade Webinars

The Department for International Trade are running a series of webinars to help businesses through coronavirus.

Business can register via great.gov.uk where all recorded webinars are hosted. DIT is also working with partners to take the usual schedule of events online.

There is also a significant programme of webinars from other government departments, including HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The webinars are listed in additional government resources to support your business during coronavirus disruptions.

https://www.digitalenterprise.co.uk/digital-knowledge/events/For wider DIT Support https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-trade/about-our-services

NATIONAL SUPPORT:

For all the latest up to date government guidance on Coronavirus support for businesses, please visit the hub on GOV.UK.

Not sure which financial support schemes you may be eligible for? Use the business support finder to find out.

*NEW* Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme – Applications are now being taken

The Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.

The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

Eligibility

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • has been negatively affected by coronavirus

Who cannot apply

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • public-sector bodies
  • state-funded primary and secondary schools

If you’re already claiming funding

You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, you can arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.

How to apply

The full rules of the scheme and guidance on how to apply is available on the British Business Bank website.

NATIONAL FUNDING AND SUPPORT

Coronavirus (COVID-19) support is available to businesses

  • Loans, tax relief and cash grants are available
  • Employers can apply for staff to get up to 80% pay if they can’t work
  • Self-employed people can receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least 3 months

Funding and support

Self-employed people and sole traders

Your responsibilities as an employer

How to run your business safely

What businesses should be closed.

All coronavirus business support information on GOV.UK

Yorkshire fashion designer says ‘slow’ may become the fashion

A top fashion designer who came back to her Yorkshire roots to launch a high-end brand says the current lockdown may change the way people shop.

Sonya Bachra-Byrne, who is originally from Bradford, travelled the world working at top fashion houses for 18 years, before coming back to West Yorkshire to launch AVIE with her husband Liam last year.

Based in Leeds, the company specialises in ‘slow fashion’, or clothing that is stylish and lasts, as opposed to the ‘fast fashion’ of many high street brands.

AVIE, which was named ‘Emerging Brand of 2019’ in the prestigious Drapers Independent Awards and invited to exhibit at Paris Fashion Week 2020, has been given business support by AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Sonya said: “In the current situation, if you look at the sales figures, consumerism seems to be changing and it is more about buying less and buying better quality that will last longer. People are slowly moving away from the fast fashion of the high street and buying investment pieces that transcend seasons.

“As a brand we also strive to work with sustainable fabrications from natural fibres where possible, created with less chemicals. So, the environment benefits too.”

AVIE manufactures ethical luxury clothing aimed at women professionals, particularly those in the creative industries, with samples made in London and manufacturing in Europe. But Sonya hopes one day to move the manufacturing nearer to home.

The original idea for the brand started when Sonya was working in New York with celebrity clients like Demi Moore, Jessica Alba and Helen Hunt. The plans slowly grew as she travelled the world, working in countries like Spain, Italy and Denmark, before finally ending up in Australia as head of global design.

“My own experience gave me the idea for the brand. At the level I was working at I needed to look the part to be taken seriously as I could be presenting to a board of directors who were all men for example. I needed to have authority and style without looking like a fashion victim.

“And then I took a little bit from each country I had worked in. For example, New York is polished with an attitude and Denmark is effortlessly edgy and minimalistic. So, when I came back to the UK, I had a clear idea of where I wanted the business to be and who I was targeting.”

But as a start-up business, AVIE needed to make the right impression to be taken seriously. This is where AD:VENTURE came to Sonya’s aid with advice and funding. The company was given a grant to pay for top-end portable photographic equipment, which meant Sonya and Liam, who is a photographer and videographer, could set up professional photoshoots in impressive locations.

The pictures from those shoots literally opened doors for the company, with the invitations to Paris Fashion Week and an invitation from an exclusive online German marketplace for sustainable fashion.

AVIE also trades online via its own website and, when they are open, through independent boutiques in Leeds and London.

Sonya said: “I can’t believe how far we have come as a business already and a lot of that is thanks to the support from AD:VENTURE. Working with them was a catalyst that propelled us forward as a business. My AD:VENTURE mentor was amazing at putting us in touch with the right people and the grant really helped us get to the next level. Without that support I think I would have struggled for the next four or five years.”

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

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “Avie are a fantastic example of how business support programmes can give exciting local businesses the tools they need to grow, which in turn creates jobs and prosperity for the region.

“With the current challenges affecting businesses, we would urge them now more than ever to get in touch and access programmes like AD:VENTURE, and make sure they are taking advantage of support available to them to put them in the best possible position to thrive and find new ways through these unprecedented times we find ourselves in.”

To find out more about Avie, visit avie-studio.com.

Bradford Northern Max 3 Business Accelerator Programme Underway!

Northern Max 3, a specialist business support programme for digital and technology firms in the Leeds/Bradford area, is now well underway.

Launched by Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, this fully funded business support programme, running across a period of ten weeks, started on 23 April.  A virtual room full of 15 early stage digital and technology businesses learned about business model innovation, got to know each other, met with their mentors and absorbed the breadth and depth of support on offer.  As a reaction to the COVID-19 crisis the organisers of Northern Max 3, Greenborough Management (upon whose 10×10 programme Northern Max is modelled), have also offered to support a further 6 local businesses who were not quite eligible for the full programme.

Week 2, which included a fascinating insight into the life and career of local entrepreneur, Jag Panesar of Xpand Marketing, built on the foundations of week 1 with a workshop focused on goal setting, vision and objectives.

Northern Max 3 is being 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 funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It forms part of AD:VENTURE’s pledge to continue to support businesses using online tools despite the pandemic.

Michelle Davis, who heads up the 10×10 team at Greenborough, said: “We are delighted with the interest in the programme.  We had nearly 30 great applicants for what was originally 12 places.  Working with our colleagues from Bradford Council we were excited to be able to increase our cohort to 15, as well as to be able to offer access to much of the support to a further 6 local businesses.

“The level of engagement from the participants has already been great, and the feedback from them about the first 2 weeks has been really positive.  We look forward to making a difference to businesses from Bradford and the wider Leeds City Region.”

For more details on the Northern Max 3 programme, visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/northernmax3

AD:VENTURE launches webinar series

A support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire is moving its events online during the coronavirus lockdown.

AD:VENTURE supports pre-start and new businesses with growth potential with a mix of offerings, including mentoring, events and access to finance.

Since the programme started at the end of 2016, AD:VENTURE, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has helped more than 3,000 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved over 160 grants to help start-up businesses grow.

Sarah Carling, AD:VENTURE programme manager, said: “Covid-19 and the lockdown has meant we have had to re-think a lot of how we deliver our support, but I am clear it is vital we continue to back the fantastic businesses we have here in the Leeds City Region.

“We’ve run a series of over 350 events successfully since the start of the programme. We know that participants really value both the content and the chance to engage with other businesses that these events provide.

“So rather than stop the events, we are moving our offering online with a series of webinars. But we are not just changing the delivery platform, we are also adapting what we cover to ensure they really support businesses and help address the particular challenges they are currently facing.”

The first webinar is on Tuesday April 21 and is called: “Reviewing and re-setting your marketing strategy during the COVID-19 outbreak”. Other webinars, which are free to join for eligible businesses, will cover topics including business resilience, effective negotiation, using LinkedIn and working effectively remotely. They can be booked via the AD:VENTURE website: https://ad-venture.org.uk/events/

Businesses are also still able to access one-to-one mentoring and other support from AD:VENTURE during the lockdown.

Partners of AD:VENTURE include the region’s nine local authorities, the Business Enterprise Fund and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, with businesses also able to access academic input through programmes delivered by higher education partners, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University.