An ex-entrepreneur has returned to the world of self-employment to specialise in ‘crime scene’ cleaning after becoming the 300th business start-up to benefit from a local enterprise scheme.
Courtney Nelmbs, from Gleadless, Sheffield, started his business Unique Private and Commercial Cleaning Services Ltd earlier this year with help from Sheffield Enterprise Agency (SENTA) after spotting a gap for specialised services during a spell of voluntary work with the homeless.
Courtney, 41, said:
“I ran my own mobile phone business originally, before going into valeting work for five or six years. I later did volunteer work for Sheffield Homes, as well as a homeless charitable project called M25 Housing and Support Group in Doncaster where I ended up working full-time.
“It was while working at M25 that I got the idea for the cleaning business because young people on the streets were often placed into temporary accommodation in rooms that had sometimes been used previously by drug users.
“The owners would need to bring in cleaners to get the room back to an acceptable state and it made me realise that there could be real value in a service which specialised in cleaning up those sorts of situations.
“I had been thinking about starting my own business again for quite a long time, so I decided to explore the idea. I drew up a business plan and enrolled on a Trauma and Crime Scene Cleaning course where I learned how to deal with tackling blood and other bodily fluids.
“I was aware of the help SENTA offered entrepreneurs because some of the young people I had worked with as a volunteer were out of work and we sometimes referred them to SENTA for guidance on starting up their own business.”
SENTA was chosen by the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) programme, which provides support for people who are unemployed and claiming Jobseekers Allowance, but want to start their own business. The scheme allows individuals to claim a weekly, tax-free allowance for the first six months of running their business and have access to a mentor to help them get their company off the ground.
“Even though I ran a business once before, it was some time ago so this has been a learning curve for me. SENTA helped me with things I wasn’t aware I’d need like Health and Safety accreditation.
“They have also helped with business planning and cash flow forecasting and introduced me to various programmes and contacts that may be able to offer further support. Any advice I need, I know I can contact them.
“I have won some car and van valet contracts, including a contract with Burnt Tree Vehicle Hire and am looking to work with other local dealerships.
“But I am really keen to raise the profile of my crime scene cleaning specialism and to tender for work and become a preferred supplier with the emergency services.
“I want to be a successful local business which works with other local businesses in the region. Longer term, I hope to be able to take on some apprentices and start to grow the business.”
Sheffield was recently revealed to have the fourth highest number of start-up businesses in the UK, according to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions. Over the last six months to the end of March, 260 people have set up their own firms in the city with help from NEA.
Dave Robinson at SENTA, part of the Sheffield Chamber Group, said:
“We’re very pleased Courtney is the 300th business to receive NEA support in Sheffield and that the scheme has helped so many unemployed people in the city to go out and set up on their own.
“But we judge ourselves on the survival rate and not just the numbers because it’s those surviving businesses that really deliver an economic return – as a Chamber we are focused on quality as much as quantity.
“We do a lot of research into the entrepreneurs and their enterprises to ensure their business proposals stack up commercially and will help to drive growth in our local economy.”
SENTA, in partnership with Sheffield City Council, supports new business start-ups and existing business growth in the region by providing one-to-one advice and access to workshops.