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We Talk to Entrepreneurs on Overcoming Business Fears at Notts Libraries’ BIPC Mansfield launch

15 June 22 words: Adam Pickering

Do you have a burning business idea, but lack the confidence to take the leap? Starting out can seem daunting with so much to consider, but just having a knowledgeable sort who you can bounce off can give you the boost you need. Nottinghamshire Libraries Business & IP Centres (BIPC) are there to help with free support and resources.

It’s tough to know where to start when setting up your own business, and even seasoned entrepreneurs can sometimes get caught out without the right support. Thankfully there’s a helping hand, whichever corner of Notts you’re in.

Enter four shiny new Business and IP Centres at Beeston, Bulwell, Mansfield, and Sutton-in-Ashfield Libraries. Run by Inspire Libraries on behalf of the County Council, entrepreneurs and business owners can meet with BIPC Advisors to discuss their business and access online reports and resources which have a combined worth of over £5 million. The expansion of new sites beyond the Nottingham City area is part of a wider expansion of the British Library’s Business & IP Centre national network, made possible due to £13 million of Treasury investment.

BIPC Nottinghamshire offers insights and access to free resources, training and events – both online and in-person. All you need is a library card. With a range of specialist partners and experts-in-residence, businesses can attend specialist webinars, get bespoke one-to-one advice and connect with other founders for inspiration and practical advice in a regular Business Club. Businesses and entrepreneurs can also access free online accountancy support and advice on how to protect their intellectual property.

We speak to a few of the entrepreneurs at the Mansfield Library BIPC, who’ve all had support from the service, to ask about their experiences starting businesses.

Joanna Wynter, Positive Attitude and Education CIC

What’s your company all about?
We’re teaching parents, grandparents, anybody really to notice the signs of grooming, gang crime and knife crime. What happens if a child doesn't come home? Or they're getting physical? Because when you go through gang crime, they do get a bit physical at home to express their feelings. But when a child's in it, they don't realise it.

How has your journey into running a business been?
I started nearly six years ago, but I've been registered for just over two years. That’s when I came to the BIPC as I wanted to learn about the business side and get a foundation. I've got four children, and I'm a single parent, so sometimes it's just squeezing something in, and I don't like working to a timetable, because I can't, so if someone gives me a deadline I get anxiety because I'm thinking how's tomorrow going to go? I live day by day. But they (BIPC) are supportive and they understand, or they'll just kind of help me along - more when I'm stuck, because I'm not business-minded at all.

Before the last couple of years I was trying to be like other organisations. That's where I made the mistake, and now I kind of just do what I'm doing. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, I learn from that.

What’s your best piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs?
It’s not as easy as you think it is but it’s not as hard as you think, either. It’s all about learning something new and if you don’t know it, there’s someone out there who can help, like BIPC.

Natalee Onyeche - Skin Solace

Tell us a bit  about you and your business…
I'm an entrepreneur, I have been since 2011. I'm a psychotherapist, and Skin Solace is an offshoot of that - I produce and make handmade soaps, candles, vegetable oils and all those kinds of things, with a focus on “self care via skin care”.

What kind of challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur getting started out and how have you been supported by Nottinghamshire Libraries?
Moving from a service to a product-based business is completely different, and I didn't really have any experience. I thought there could be a business, but realised it was going to be harder than I thought. I've struggled in terms of finding funding, or just knowing what legal requirements I need to do, GDPR for my website, and all those kinds of things. So I've been able to go to BIPC, get some information to develop my business plan and cash flow forecast, and get some information about my competitors and all those kinds of things. I'm now in a better position to go forward for funding from other places rather than a starter loan.

What’s your best piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs?
Attend to your intellectual property.

Natalie Sharpe - Empowered Foundations CIC

Tell us about Empowered Foundations, what do you do?
I've set up a community interest company called empowered foundations, and it's going to be focused on helping our communities across Nottinghamshire to reach their full potential basically. We offer help to people of all ages, tackling mental health issues through uplifting and inspiring training and support sessions within schools.  

I think post-pandemic we're starting to see that there's a huge need for mental health support and we can't always get that in terms of psychological support. I think there's a lot of things that can be done within the community, and within schools to help children develop some core skills - build a toolkit of how to tackle things like anxiety, learn to be stronger and have a growth mindset.

What fears did you have starting out?
I'm lucky in the sense that I have run and managed a social enterprise before and my background is in teaching, but even with some experience, it's quite a scary phase. You're always questioned whether your ideas are going to work. But if your gut and your passion says it's there, you've got to go with it. The BIPC have been brilliant for helping to find contacts, grant source funding, consultancy support, and really central to that as well is that motivational support and encouragement. My advisor's been fantastic and he's been really encouraging and supportive. 

What’s your best piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs?
It’s hard to run a business at the moment. We’ve all been through a lot with the pandemic and the economic situation currently. It can be really hard at times, which is why accessing support like the BIPC is vital to start-ups and small businesses.

Find out more about BIPC and get support via the Inspire Culture website

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