Help on hand to start new enterprise in Devon

Two new support programmes have been launched by Devon County Council – one catering for those looking to start a new business or social enterprise in Devon, and another to help existing businesses to grow.

[Owl is confused. At least one of these help packages is being offered by Devon County Council through a support package already part of our Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership. Are we doubling up on bureaucracy, doubling up on announcing “new money” or is HotSW ineffectual? – Owl]

Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com

Devon Get Started has been established to help anyone aged 25 and over in the county to get their ideas off the ground. Start-ups or social enterprises in their first six months who are facing continuity challenges, are also eligible for support.

For businesses that are already up and running, the County Council is offering help through Thrive Devon which aims to support SME productivity and competitiveness, helping businesses to grow, create jobs and reach new markets.

Devon Get Started focuses on support prior to start-up, aiming to build confidence, managing start-up costs, and covering any skills gaps.

An assessment will help participants in the scheme through the various stages of business planning to discover their strengths, identify their goals and highlight opportunities as well as potential barriers to growth. It will also define what tools might be needed to implement their vision.

Led by qualified business coaches and advisors, the initiative offers a mix of workshops, peer support activities and one-to-one support.

– Workshops will help participants learn how to identify their resources, how to avoid common mistakes, and how to manage, organise, run, market, finance and grow a new business.

– Business advisors can offer one-to-one support on creating a sustainable business plan, accessing funding, and creating partnerships. They will also organise a follow up session after six months to overcome any issues which may arise in launching new products, breaking into new markets (both in the UK and abroad), developing a growth strategy, improving productivity and increasing profitability.

The programme is suitable for businesses operating in almost all industry sectors and will specifically aims to reach individuals in Devon within sectors hardest hit by COVID-19 such as tourism, hospitality, retail, food and drink. Support will be offered across the Devon County Council area, especially in the priority areas of West Devon, Torridge, Teignbridge and Mid Devon.

Thrive Devon will offer a free diagnostic and training service, with tailor-made support that will enable businesses to improve and grow, including specialist workshops on topics such as digital skills, finance, marketing, HR and business planning.

The programme works alongside the European Regional Development (ERDF) Thrive support and is available to Devon SMEs who may not be eligible to receive help under the ERDF funded programme.

Both Devon Get Started and Thrive Devon will continue until March 2023 and they are part of a wider package of support being delivered through Devon’s £6 million recovery programme, aiming to provide help and support in four key areas: small and medium enterprises, employment and skills, the green recovery and the hardest hit towns and communities.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said: “All potential entrepreneurs face different challenges before setting out on their self-employed journey and the Devon Get Started scheme can help address those challenges by creating a supportive and motivational environment. We want to enable everyone who takes part in Devon Get Started to be able to turn their idea into a successful and sustainable enterprise or business.

“Thrive Devon provides a great opportunity for existing businesses to improve and grow. The tailored backing offered through the scheme will help signpost businesses to the most relevant support, advice and training.”

For more information about Devon Get Started and to enrol, visit Devon-Get-Started.

To find out more about Thrive Devon and to enrol go to https://www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk/business-support-programmes/thrive/