A rebrand has worked wonders for Karen Haworth’s training consultancy. Relaunching as Nutshell Training two years ago has transformed the business.
Based in Arnside, the company provides training in first aid, food safety, health and safety, fire safety, health and social care, and licensing to clients across Cumbria, Lancashire and beyond.
Karen’s career began in the hospitality industry and then she became a lecturer in hospitality at Blackpool and The Fylde College for 15 years before taking on a café and bistro in the Ribble Valley.
She said: “I’d always wanted to work for myself. We had the bistro for seven years but had four children by then so running a seven-day-a-week business wasn’t practical. I needed a better work-life balance.
“I was used to lecturing, had plenty of experience of running a business and already had a food safety qualification, so I set up as a consultant.
“I upgraded the qualification and did a NEBOSH [health and safety] course and began trading as Target Safety Training doing food safety training.
“Then people asked, ‘Can you do first aid training?’ and it grew from there.”
She operated as TST for 10 years but, with the children grown up and Karen and her husband Mike settled in Arnside, she decided two years ago to rebrand the business and put it on a more professional footing.
The aim was to take turnover from £60,000 to £200,000 per annum and enable her husband and son to start working in the business.
She said: “To do that we had to make ourselves known to a wider audience to increase our customer base.
“I feel strongly about making training effective and bespoke – hence the name ‘nutshell’, everything in a nutshell and to the point.”
The rebrand involved registering the new company at Companies House, which made it eligible for the Business Start-Up Support (BSUS) programme run by the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub.
The package of free support includes a three-day course covering the basics of starting a business, one-to-one meetings with a business adviser, training, help with a business plan and membership of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.
Karen was already experienced in running a business but still found the one-to-one support from Growth Hub adviser Adrian Luckham invaluable.
She said: “There was a lot going on and it was really useful to get someone else’s ideas and support. I would ask him, ‘What to do you think about this?’.
“He helped us get our act together financially. I’d not been very organised in that department. He gave me advice on VAT and on sales and marketing.
“He was very good too at directing us to the right people to talk to, for example when we were looking for someone to design a website he suggested who we might approach. He knows so many people.”
Karen attended Growth Hub workshops and networking events as part of the BSUS package, including a time management workshop and a “brilliant” session on social media with Darren Jenkinson of DigiEnable.
She also took advantage of the Subsidy Scheme.
This enables ERDF-eligible businesses – that are looking to grow and create jobs – to access a 40% contribution, up to a maximum of £2,000, to buy-in consultancy to support their plans.
A wide range of consultancy services are covered by the Subsidy Scheme.
For example, it can help businesses looking to buy-in advice on accountancy and finance, social media consultancy, legal advice and public relations – and that isn’t an exhaustive list.
Karen used it to defray the cost of a new website.
She said: “Without the grant it wouldn’t have been as sophisticated and professional. There was quite a lot of time involved in getting it right.”
The scheme requires businesses to go through a tendering process to evaluate at least three potential bids. Growth Hub advisers help businesses put together a brief to select and manage the best consultant for the task.
Karen added: “I found the tendering process very useful. It does make you look at different options and focus on what you really want. The approach and ideas that the three providers brought to the table were very different.
“I quite quickly decided who I wanted to go with – Helen Dowthwaite of Creative Essence in Kendal.”
Almost two years on from the rebrand, the business is going from strength to strength. Karen now calls on outside associates to deliver training where necessary.
Clients include Zeffirellis, Langdale Estate, Windermere School, Hayes Garden World, Eden Mencap, Eden Valley Hospice, Barrow-based Risedale Retirement and Nursing Homes, Lancaster University and the Inn at Whitewell and Gibbon Bridge in the Ribble Valley.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a great example of how you can use a mix of support to really give your business a boost.
“If, like Karen, you’re keen to grow your business, give us a call and one of our advisers will work out with you the best package of support for you.”
Alternatively, call Cumbria Business Growth Hub today on 0844 257 84 50 and find out how we can help your business grow.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub this comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP.
The Growth Hub is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information, click here.
The Subsidy Scheme is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce