A free business support programme has helped more than 200 new businesses set up in the last two years.
Smartstart, run by Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre (BBIC), has helped 204 business ventures commence trading since it was established at the end of 2012.
BBIC business development manager James Herbert said: “Smartstart is all about reaching out to people in Barnsley who are considering self-employment and setting up their own business.
“Our team of business advisors are here to help any potential entrepreneur take a close look at their business idea and really consider if they could make a success of it – we then offer expert support and guidance once they make the decision to go ahead.
“We are proud to have helped so many businesses start trading in the last two years and look forward to helping many more in 2015.”
Smartstart held its first bi-monthly open day of 2015 recently and 33 more people came along to discuss their business ideas and plans with a business adviser.
One potential entrepreneur was Victoria Price who is planning to set up her own business as a wedding and event singer.
Victoria said: “It is great to be able to come here and talk through my business idea with people who know all about these things. I am an experienced singer and I know there is demand out there for event singers – and there are very few in this area – but I really value talking to business experts about the best way look at this and get going.”
The SmartStart programme is managed by the BBIC, at Wilthorpe, working in partnership with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
In the last two years, its business advisors have seen over 500 people at Smartstart open days. Of these, 330 potential start-ups have taken their ideas forward and accessed Smartstart’s practical business support programme which includes workshops and one-to-one surgeries with advisors, who have expertise in areas such as finance, sales and marketing, business plan preparation and funding.
With the benefit of this support, 204 businesses have started trading.
These include same-day delivery firm, Elite Logistics and Distribution Ltd, set up by Tim Beswick and Martin Lever; medical skills agency, Illuminate Training Services, set up by Leigh Humpleby and multi-lingual hair salon, Hairways, established by Neringa Siuipeiene.
Some of the eligible business start-ups, with particular potential to grow and create jobs, have also accessed a further year of intensive free business support at BBIC, through its Genesis programme.
This ‘business incubation scheme’ offers fledgling businesses free office accommodation for a year plus on-going business, finance and technical support to help them develop and grow. Up to ten businesses, who came to BBIC via the Smartstart open days, are currently being supported through Genesis.
James said: “Running your own business is not for everyone, but through Smartstart and Genesis we want to help Barnsley entrepreneurs explore the option thoroughly and, if they do decide to go down this route, we offer them free expert guidance and support to help them take their first steps to self-employment.”
The Smartstart and Genesis programmes are part of a wider strategy to help grow the local economy, as set out in Barnsley Council’s Jobs and Business Plan 2014-2017.