Five-minute feature: How to set up a business
FOR many people, starting up a new business presents a daunting challenge. Here, reporter Robin Jenkins looks at the issues and the help available.
WITH good jobs being hard to come by and competition for them being fierce, some people are opting to work for themselves.
Hannah Mansfield and James Howell both graduated from university with first class degrees then could not find suitable jobs in their chosen fields of psychology and accounting.
So they decided to do something totally different and, in November, opened their own smoothie shop, Applebar.
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Hannah said business at their shop in Winchcombe Street, Cheltenham, was going well, but that they had found it hard to get the help when they first set out.
The 22-year-old said: "We relied a lot on savings and contributions from our families. I'm aware that there are certain grants available, but we weren't really eligible for them.
"I think there's a lot of support out there, but it's hard to be eligible for it.
"A lot of people will be in a position like ours."
The kind of problems they encountered might partly explain a fall in the number of business start-ups in Gloucestershire during the second half of last year.
County council figures showed the number dropped from 434 in August to 290 in December. But those trying to encourage business growth in the county insisted there was plenty of support.
Gloucestershire First (GFirst) is a countywide economic partnership and the driving force behind the recently-formed Gloucestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Chris Dee, GFirst's marketing and tourism manager, said: "In general, we would encourage business start-ups to stay close to the Gloucestershire LEP for two main reasons.
"Firstly, it keeps businesses up to date on any new initiatives or sources of funding. Secondly, we provide networking opportunities that can be a lifeline for those starting a business, in terms of meeting people and picking up new ideas and leads."
He recommended people go to www.gloslep.co.uk/business-support.aspx for a list of sources of business advice and to www.gloslep.co.uk/business-support/start-up for a dedicated section on start-ups, giving a check list of initiatives and contacts.
Among those determined to start on their own despite a difficult economy are Vanessa and Scott Mason, who want to transform their home in Bishop's Cleeve into Home Farm Day Nursery.
Grants for small businesses are often available from the district councils in Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and the Cotswolds. Sue Lambert, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses in Tewkesbury, said the borough council offered an impressive package of help.
She said: "There's a lot of information there to get people started."