Business support is making a real difference

24 January 2020

New and established businesses are continuing to start up and continue to thrive thanks to a partnership between ourselves and Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

Since we began funding business support through the Chamber, 322 existing businesses in the district have been supported by the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub and 300 businesses and individuals have been given start-up support, with 87 businesses created.

One hundred and sixty six jobs have been created and a further 169 safeguarded, with an estimated increase in GVA (a measure of the value of goods and services regarded as a key indicator of solid economic activity) of £4,601,765.
In the six months up to December, 70 businesses were supported and 35 assisted by the Growth Hub; 73 businesses or individuals supported and 41 assisted through BSUS, with six new businesses formed and seven jobs created.

Our funding for the continuation of the Growth Hub and Business Start-up Support (BSUS) means that potential new and existing businesses in South Lakeland can access free advice, support, training and a match-funded subsidy for specialist consultancy support. A network of experienced advisors is available with expertise in a wide range of different business areas.

Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure, said: “The Growth Hub does excellent work helping businesses in South Lakeland operate more effectively, increase their productivity and maximise profits, as well as providing crucial support to people starting businesses and those in the first three years of trading.

“South Lakeland has a vibrant and varied economy and we at SLDC are committed to putting into practice measures that will help this continue. Supporting the Cumbria Growth Hub in this way is a major part of that.

“Successfully starting up and maintaining a business is a huge task and our businesspeople in South Lakeland who are working hard every day to do that deserve our praise and support if they need it.

“Anyone running a business in South Lakeland, or thinking of starting one, should get in touch to find out more about the great support the Growth Hub offers.”

Suzanne Caldwell, deputy chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in the Growth Hub, said: “South Lakeland has always placed a high priority on supporting and nurturing businesses, which is one of the reasons it has the fastest growing economy in Cumbria.

“We’re delighted that they’re continuing to support the work we do, which means we will be able to assist even more start-ups and growing businesses going forward.”

She added: “We can use SLDC’s contribution as match funding to draw down very significant European funding – more than doubling SLDC’s contribution.”

Our contribution for the current financial year is £33,000.

Details of the Growth Hub’s services

Financial Management Bureau case study 

Roger Jackson, financial planner and manager at Financial Management Bureau (FMB), discusses how the company has developed a strategy for future growth by engaging with Lancaster University Management School through the Cumbria Forum leadership development programme, an ERDF-funded initiative as part of the Growth Hub aimed at growing business and free to eligible Cumbria SMEs.

FMB is a family-run business that has been providing independent financial advice since 1987. The Kendal-based firm focuses mostly on financial planning for individuals, with some corporate work as well.

As Roger Jackson puts it: “It’s about making sure their finances are efficiently aligned with their medium and longer-term goals.”

With a need to preserve its distinctive heritage whilst also moving with the times, FMB was ideally placed to benefit from the Cumbria Forum.

“It has helped us to innovate and develop new offerings,” Roger explains. “Such as a lower cost, more streamlined service that’s designed to appeal to clients of the future. What really prompted this in my mind was the ‘Four Ways to Grow Your Business’ session.

“By pulling our ideas into those boxes and breaking it down, we’ve been able to identify how to respond to changing demographics by getting people into the right mindset: ready to transition from the more streamlined route to full financial planning in the future.”

“The Forum appealed to me straight away because I was aware of the University’s prowess, especially the Management School. There were a couple of people involved who I respected even before I started – like Gerry Johnson, a leading academic in strategic management – and I knew it would be useful just to try to absorb information and knowledge.”

“We have a very close relationship with the Management School,” Roger adds. “We have worked with them on student projects and one of our directors is now an Entrepreneur-in-Residence there. Our MD, who is currently on the Innovation Development Programme, was already familiar with the Cumbria Forum and she thought that because of my dual role it would be good for me.”

It didn’t take long for Roger to appreciate that his fellow delegates were facing similar challenges in their businesses and this helped to foster an invaluable sense of empathy. “It enabled me to understand a lot about other businesses, to share experiences with other managers and to see what they were doing to operate in changing markets.”

If the Cumbria Forum has had a lasting impact on FMB, it has also cemented its links with the Management School and the wider peer network. “I’ve personally referred friends and business associates,” Roger says. “I keep in touch with the other delegates from my cohort and we’ve forged new relationships throughout.”

Roger Jackson and Liz Beavis from FMB are pictured.

FMB employees


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