Buddies offer help for fledgling firms
START-UP businesses are being offered guidance and networking opportunities with the launch of a support group.
Bes Buddies will begin next month for companies formed with help from the Business Enterprise Support (BES) service.
The scheme, part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund in association with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, works with residents across North Staffordshire to help them start their own companies.
Enterprise coach Gaynor Parkinson said the Bes Buddies group was an extension to the support offered to those looking to become self-employed.
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She said: "A lot of our clients who have started a business have now been running for 12 months or even longer.
"So while we run workshops and free self-employment support for anyone looking to start their own business, the aim of the Bes Buddies group is to offer networking opportunities for those companies which have been launched."
Gayle Jessiman, who also works as an enterprise coach in the city, said: "There are networking groups already out there but for some of our clients, the cost means they can't afford to join them.
"Also because our clients are still quite new to business, they want to interact with people and firms quite similar to them.
"The idea is that some businesses that are already trading might be able to offer some sort of mentoring to the clients we are working with who are just getting started."
The BES currently has funding in place until December 2014 with a total of five coaches working across North Staffordshire.
They offer support and guidance to would-be entrepreneurs from discussing an initial idea through to setting up a business.
The team helps with marketing ideas, business planning, personal survival budgets, networking and confidence building.
All services and materials such as USB drives to store documents are provided free.
The new support group is due to meet in Shelton, at the base of the Other Cultures In Shelton (OCIS) community cafe, which was set up by Derrick Wallis with help from the BES.
Gaynor added: "With Bes Buddies we will be bringing everyone together to discuss how they want the group to progress and what would help them the most.
"We will help them to develop it, but the idea is that the group will carry on whether our support is there or not."
Anyone thinking of starting their own business can call 01283 537151.
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