When Selby based work colleagues, Cassie Fennell and Wendy Langfield, went out for drinks with a friend one Friday night the last thing they expected was to wake up with a sore head and a business – but that’s exactly what happened.
As two trained accountants working for the same firm, which specialised in servicing larger organisations, the pair had become frustrated with the number of small businesses that were often turned away and left to look elsewhere for support. But, little did they know at the time that this would start a journey that would see them launch a company and never look back.
It was during this particular night out that Cassie and Wendy started to talk about their concerns and realised that they could pick up these start-ups and young businesses and provide them with a professional service that they could rely on.
Cassie comments: “We had no intention of talking about work, we were simply on a night out to have fun and to let our hair down. Yet, after a glass of fizz we started to discuss how frustrating it was to send people away to find help when we were perfectly capable of offering it ourselves!
“Our existing employer didn’t cater for smaller businesses or one-man bands so the more we thought about it, the more we realised we could manage these clients in our own time and earn some extra cash in the process. It made perfect sense and before we knew it, we had a business.”
Waking up the next day both ladies had time to consider the decision that they had made but were still adamant that this was the right thing to do. Taking the next step, they approached their boss and explained the situation. Rather than be annoyed or upset, he gave his support and that is when WJC Solutions went from being a plausible idea to an exciting reality.
It was while on holiday in Benidorm that Cassie met with a local friend who recommended networking and although she initially felt it wasn’t right for her she went along to a Selby Council networking event when she got home and found that it wasn’t half as bad as she had expected.
As well as the usual introductions, Cassie was introduced to Heidi Green, the Business Adviser from Selby District Council and Growth Manager for Leeds City Region LEP who put them in touch with AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded programme that offers practical and match-funded grant support to start-up and young businesses throughout the Leeds City Region.
As a result of that they had their first meeting with Lisa Whalley the regional adviser and then registered on to a selection of workshops that would give them the practical support and confidence that they felt they needed to start and run a business. They also accessed sessions that would teach them certain specialisms that they felt would be important including marketing.
Wendy comments: “What is great about the AD:VENTURE events and workshops is that you know everyone is in a very similar boat. It’s good to share experiences and to learn about the different skills you need, which you would otherwise not have come across.
“The programme is also supported by Selby District Council, so that gives you extra confidence that the events you are accessing are credible and delivered by professionals.
“As well as understanding more about how to market our business, we are also looking forward to accessing training about social media. In addition, we are working with an AD:VENTURE Business Advisor to look at possible ways in which we can access funds to support the design and development of our website. This will be a further big step in our journey.”
In just over a year WJC Solutions now has over 45 clients and although, like all businesses, it has come across a number of challenges, the founding Directors say that they would not change a thing. Their decision to start a business during a night out turned out to be less hangover and more happy ending.
For further details about the AD:VENTURE programme please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk and for regular updates including case studies of the businesses that have benefited from practical and match-funded grant support, please follow on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook