Wakefield Council’s STEP UP employment programme is encouraging budding entrepreneurs across the district by providing help and support for those wanting to be self-employed and start-up their own businesses.
Since March 2020, STEP UP has supported over 100 participants with business enterprise advice, 16 of whom have gone into self-employment so far in sectors such as photography, marketing, beauty and fitness.
The specialised business enterprise support team can provide help and advice with all aspects of starting up a new business, including business planning, budgeting, marketing, upskilling and providing information on funding, as well as getting registered with HMRC.
Cllr Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Regenerations, Economic Growth and Property, said: “Wakefield Council really understands that setting up a brand new business and going self-employed can be a really daunting task but we want to support and nurture this entrepreneurial spirit and help people every step of the way.
“Our specialist team know everything there is to know about starting up a business and will even offer ongoing support for six to 12 months to ensure your business can thrive.
“If you have an exciting idea for a business that you want to explore, please get in touch and see how we can help.”
Morenike is a single parent who wanted to re-establish her career in the beauty industry, after losing her job during the coronavirus pandemic. She contacted STEP UP with her business idea and the team helped her work on a business plan, finances, marketing and insurance, amongst many other things, over an eight month period.
She said: “I knew that I wanted to set up a beauty business, but I really needed some help and contacting STEP UP was the best thing I could have done.
“They instantly put me at ease and talked me through everything I would need to do, things I would never even have thought of and helped me every step of the way.”
Morenike also completed a Digital Inclusion course, which has given her the skills to better promote her business on social media and also manage her business finances.
“The Digital Inclusion course was one of the best things I’ve ever done, not only did it provide me with some essential skills, it also helped with my mental wellbeing and made me feel positive about myself and what I could achieve.”
Although it was a long journey with difficulties along the way, Morenike’s advisors were with her every step of the way and she finally decided to set up a mobile business, which is now thriving, and has given her a huge amount of flexibility to manage child-care whilst still being able to do the job she loves.
She continued: “Even when certain things didn’t turn out as hoped, we sat down and talked through a different plan. They really nurtured my aspirations and I felt incredibly well supported.
“Going mobile is the best decision, as I can do the school run, shopping and don’t have to rush back to open up or pay for lights/heating for my customers!
“Business is starting to pick up now and I feel really positive about the future. I couldn’t praise STEP UP enough and I have already referred people to them – I would encourage anyone who is thinking about becoming self-employed to get in touch with them.”