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Ex-RAF man helps high-flyers in business

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Star Development

Two years ago Stuart Waddington made the life-changing decision to start his own business.

He’d spent 12 years in the RAF and was employed as a physical training instructor at RAF Spadeadam near Carlisle.

He said: “I have four young children and at the time my eldest two had just started school in Brampton, where we lived.

“In the military you get moved around every two or three years and we didn’t want that upheaval with a young family.

“That’s why I decided to start a business.

Stuart Waddington“My role at Spadeadam involved team building, leadership training and making people more effective in their jobs.

“I realised that I could apply those techniques in the world of business.”

Star Development UK began trading in January last year. Services to businesses include team building, mindset coaching and confidence coaching.

Stuart said: “One-to-one coaching is pitched at people at management level, including senior managers and directors. The aim is to help them manage themselves and manage others.

“A lot of people in business are promoted into management roles because they are good at their jobs, but they can’t manage people.

“That’s where we can help. I thought that not having a business background might be a disadvantage but the reverse is true. Having an outsider’s perspective helps the people we work with to think outside the box.”

Star Development UK also works in the education sector.

Stuart explained: “I started doing workshops for the University of Cumbria to enhance student value and ambition.

“These are motivational and inspirational workshops to get the students thinking about what they are doing, why they are doing it and what they hope to achieve when they leave university. It’s about modelling excellence.”

Before launching Star Development UK, he enrolled on the Business Start-Up Support programme run by the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub.

This offers free advice and support to new businesses including one-to-mentoring from a professional business adviser, and a place on a three-day course on starting a business.

“I did the start-up course in November 2016 and began the mentoring in January 2017,” Stuart said.

“There were other courses available through the Growth Hub that I would like to have done but starting a business and finding work is a massive juggling act and I simply didn’t find the time. I was learning as I went along.

“My Growth Hub adviser, Justine Douglas, was an absolute godsend.

“She was somebody I could bounce ideas off and who would ask things I hadn’t even thought of.

“I didn’t know anything about the tax side so Justine arranged for me to see another Growth Hub adviser, Tony Ferguson, an accountant with Dodd & Co.

Star Bootcamp“She also directed me to articles and sources of information, which meant I didn’t have to spend time researching everything myself.”

Shortly after launching Star Development UK, Stuart founded a sister business, Star Bootcamp UK.

“It happened by accident,” he said. “People knew I had a background in fitness training and asked if I could organise summer bootcamps.

“I approached the University of Cumbria about doing fitness classes and we started bootcamps at the Brampton Road campus in Carlisle last April and carried on through the summer.

“We can also go into schools to talk about the benefits of being active and having a healthy diet, and plan to put on fitness classes for the school holidays to keep kids active. That’s all in the future.

“Star Bootcamp UK has gone from strength to strength although having two businesses to launch and manage has been quite a journey.”

Since starting the businesses, the Waddington family decided to grasp the nettle and make one more move, leaving Brampton for Cheshire.

Stuart said: “It’s where myself and my wife are from, we have family there, and Star Development has clients in Manchester and Liverpool so it makes sense.

“We were happy in Brampton and sad to leave.

“I still have clients in Cumbria and would love to work with more businesses there. It’s only a short drive up the M6.”

Stuart now uses five freelance fitness instructors to run the bootcamps and fitness classes and is about to hand over the Cumbrian operations of Star Bootcamp UK to one of them.

He said: “He’s just finished university and wants to run his own business.

“The idea is that he will run the Cumbrian operation with my advice and support, almost like a franchise.

“This will be the first of what I hope will be a series of mini hubs. That’s the model to grow the business.”

If you are thinking of starting your own business or social enterprise, then Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and our partners are here to help with a free business start-up programme to point you in the right direction.

Our comprehensive package of support includes:

  • Free meetings with a business adviser to review and develop your business idea;
  • Free training covering business planning and self employment, an introduction to marketing/market research and sales forecasts, promotion and sales, an introduction to planning and managing finance, taxation and bookkeeping, using the internet and social media;
  • Free help to develop your business plan and get your business up and running;
  • Free membership of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

The £1.1m Business Start-up Support (BSUS) project is supporting 300 new businesses and 750 individuals to start businesses, creating 300 jobs.

For more information, call us today on 0844 257 84 50 or click here to visit the Cumbria Business Growth Hub web site.

ERDFThe funding that supports the Growth Hub 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 BSUS project is receiving up to £1,112,686 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for 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.

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

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