Fiona Fraser

Posts by fiona

Eco-Cleaning – Clean Homes and Happy Customers!

We spoke to Anca Petcu, founder of Eco-Cleaning Bristol, to learn more out about her experiences of running a small business.

Eco-Cleaning has been trading for nine years providing environmentally friendly cleaning services, reliability and peace of mind for a range of locally based domestic and commercial customers.

Driven by Anca’s pursuit of quality throughout the business, Eco-Cleaning is the only cleaning company in Bristol to have been awarded a Which ‘Trusted Trader’ endorsement based on its consistent service and desire to please its customers.  This commitment has helped Anca to increase her turnover year on year and build long-term relationships with her clients, and her employees.

Running a small business is a big responsibility and Anca has invested dedicated time to build her knowledge base and confidence. Working with GetSet, has helped to give her a chance to reflect on progress, and offered practical ways to help improve her commercial awareness and a make plan for the future.

She has taken advantage of the free workshop training too, particularly around operational finance and the importance of cash-flow, along with 1:1 support to identify new ways to generate leads and build the pipeline around her business.  She has also valued the chance to network with like-minded peers and learn from the experiences of other small businesses.

Looking ahead, Anca has a vision to be the ‘go to’ cleaning company in Bristol.  She intends to take on additional staff including a team leader to ensure she can spend more time working on the business rather than in it.  Finally, she’s considering the opportunity for a re-brand and referral scheme to fuel the next phase of growth.

Commenting on the journey so far, Anca says: “Slowly, slowly it all helps. Just get on and do it!

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Wellbeing & Team Spirit!

Our West of England ‘GetSet for Goals’ mixed football team recently had a wonderful time competing in a weekend charity football tournament in support of the ‘Well Beans’ initiative.

Based in Bristol, this social peer network helps start conversations surrounding mental health and provides a compassionate culture in which individuals can engage, with the ultimate aim of reducing social isolation. Through their range of services such as training, wellbeing workshops and local events they continue to assist individuals with mental health to empower themselves and those around them.

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Disability Confident

The GetSet programme is designed to help ambitious businesses grow.  Our fully funded work in the region in collaboration with the Dorset Business Growth Partnership is available to help any county-based SME wanting to become more competitive in the market. Dedicated strands of activity include pre-start and start-up support, focussing on improving companies’ marketing performance, and overall financial management capabilities.

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Faithworks – Help and Hope for those in Need

We spoke to Ruth Argles, Communications Lead at Faithworks in Bournemouth.

Running for 15 years, Faithworks is a not for profit, independent charity solely focused on helping people get out of crisis and isolation, giving them renewed hope for a more positive future.

The small team supports a wide range of initiatives locally and is currently involved in 14 wide-ranging projects across the region, including Food Banks, befriending carers, debt advice, homelessness and helping single parents. Building on their existing links with Christian churches, there is considerable scope to build wider regional awareness and understanding around the charity’s aims and good works.   Having a strong volunteer network and communicating tangible results is also essential for future-proofing their future growth.

Ruth discovered the GetSet service online and was impressed not only by the range of content but by the ease of accessing the quality resources locally.  Keen to build her skills and communications confidence she has taken full advantage of the range of support this year including workshop training and 1:1 mentoring.   As a small charity with minimal marketing investment, she now feels better equipped and ready to explore the potential of social marketing and blog content too in order to build the wider Faithworks community of interest.

She says: It’s a great resource, a blessing that it is funded with mentoring support where needed.  There is a real energy with GetSet and wonderful to be able to absorb it”.

Ruth and the Faithworks team are now looking ahead with a renewed sense of purpose and keen to make further investment in digital channels to help them get their name and work in front of more and more people including funders.

Ruth says to other charities considering the value of the service:

I would definitely encourage them to contact GetSet – it will encourage them that they are not on their own.  It’s fully funded, with in depth training and very flexible to the needs of the individual.”

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Food for Thought Cookery School

We spoke to Louise Jones, Founder of ‘Food for Thought’ a home-based cookery school in Dorset. She is on a personal mission to help inspire people to make and eat healthier choices.  A qualified nutritionist, she knows the power of positive food choices particularly given her own personal struggles with anemia. Having previously experienced the pressures of the corporate world too, she decided to pull back and strike out on a different path as the time felt right to build her own business around her passion for food. Her cookery school has been trading for just over a year and she has also created a range of sweet treats including a recipe for healthy chocolate!

Louise says: I can’t speak highly enough of GetSet. Having someone else looking at your business who is not close to you, is fantastic.  Asking the ‘why’, is really powerful”. Regular mentoring with the team helped to accelerate her decision making.   A considered review of The Food for Thought website generated more focused content and tangible results, with class bookings up already this year.  The GetSet workshop support helped build her knowledge and confidence as well, with the suite of training being a valuable resource from which to develop a plan of action for building awareness of the cookery school and an engaged client community.

Working with the GetSet team, Louise now has a clearer idea of her target customers – primarily female foodies with health as their key motivator, they are seeking more confidence in their cooking skills.  This knowledge is helping her to develop new class offerings and generate more repeat business with a healthy pudding club being one of the new tasty offerings for the Autumn.

The future is looking bright at ‘Food for Thought’.  So much so, that Louise has taken the plunge and given up her part time job to be able to focus on the business full time.  She was a finalist in the ‘Successful Women in Business’ awards and is committed to helping and inspiring more people to make healthier cooking choices.   She intends to explore a wider range of formats for delivering her passion and will inevitably be having lots of fun along the way!

Commenting on her journey so far, Louise has some sound advice for other budding entrepreneurs:

 

Go and see GetSet for Growth”! Find your passion and be fully committed as it will take over your life.  Realise that you will not make much money initially, put the groundwork in by way of personal investment of time and energy and you will reap the rewards in the future

 

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Manufacturer Gets Set for Global Growth

 

Brush-Baby started out as an idea of founder and mother Dominique Tillen to help address dental decay, one of the world’s most preventable diseases, through enabling parents to help children take care of their teeth – even before they have them!

Over 500 children are hospitalised each week for dental extractions, and a third of primary school children have some form of dental decay. Dominique devised a range of products, including tastebud-friendly toothpastes, easy-grip Silicone Chewable Teether/Toothbrushes and Mini Electric Toothbrushes, helping parents establish a routine for children to transition through, once their behavioural skills and manual dexterity skills have developed sufficiently.

Having grown a very successful UK business, with Brush-Baby products in the major supermarkets, John Lewis, Mothercare, Superdrug and JoJo Maman Bebe, and a trade line through dental surgeries and distributors in 22 countries, Dominique was facing many of the challenges of growth.

Like many manufacturing and distribution businesses, long lead times from manufacture to payment was impacting on cashflow, the lifeblood of any business. And after 8 years, it was also time to take the next big step, with outside, impartial and experienced support to help prepare the business and its founder to grow to international level.

As Dominique says: “as a business owner, you’re not only a manager of products, money, people and ideas, and trying to stay one step ahead of the game, so ambition and ideas can often get lost. I was getting bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae of the running of the business”. 

Dominique worked with GetSet Solent for three months. During this time, they helped her secure a £1m financing facility, revisited and structured her business plan with dates, responsibilities and measurable outcomes, and assisting her with her new marketing strategy. A monthly coaching session with their marketing advisor designed to stop, step back, and work on the bigger picture helped ensure Brush-Baby stayed on track with its plans for growth.

An additional salesperson was recruited, the business moved from reactive to proactive, together with new marketing activity to achieve the targets in the business plan. A great foundation from which to achieve Brush-Baby’s goal to be the ‘go to’ name in dental care products, and a game changer in dental health.

Dominique concludes: “I would highly recommend any business owner to use GetSet for Growth – it’s one of the best Government initiatives that I have ever found. The business advisers have gained knowledge of various industries and bring a wealth of experience to their roles.” 

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Novel Wines – Raising a glass to the unique and wonderful!

We spoke to co-founder Ben Franks, to find out more about the new exciting venture Novel Wines.  Based in Bath, Novel Wines is an independent, award-winning online wine retailer on a mission to showcase overlooked wines, regions and producers. Trading since 2016, he told us about the journey so far in setting up the business, and the growth support he and his co-founder Gyorgy Zsiga have received from GetSet.

With a background in wine journalism, Ben quickly developed a keen interest in English and Romanian wines with a desire to make them more accessible to a wider audience.  A meeting with Hungarian importer, Gyorgy to discuss their shared passion for the delightfully named dessert wine, ‘Kardos Fairytale’ quickly led on to the real chance to set up a viable business model around the sourcing and retailing of wines from Eastern Europe and globally.

From road-testing the initial concept via a targeted crowdfunding campaign and a personal investment of £20k, more than 200 handpicked global wines are now available to buy online, complete with compelling stories and tasting notes.

Against a backdrop of established players, Novel Wines continues to go from strength to strength with a laser focus on its niche market of discerning / curious wine lovers. Building on last year’s turnover of £100k, Ben talked more about the support he has received from the GetSet team in helping to bring a growth planning discipline into the business, together with the creation of a compelling business case and third-party support to secure a   six-figure equity investment.

He said of the service: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with GetSet for Growth. We’ve gone through a really exciting opportunity for growth with an investor coming on board and our business growing by over 150% year on year. The GetSet team helped me focus my marketing ideas and reassure me on some of our financial processes. It’s always great to have an extra pair of eyes.”

GetSet helped in other ways too by inviting Ben to participate in the successful internship programme it ran earlier in the year with University of Bristol.

With a ready grasp of the people side of growth too, Ben said:“I knew as soon as Lydia came back telling me Marina was right for my business that I’d found a great intern.  Naturally, we had to offer her a job … you don’t come by talent like this very often! “

Looking ahead the future looks very positive for Novel Wines with every confidence that 2018 will be another very good vintage for the team!

Not one to rest on his laurels Ben is already thinking about his strategy for the medium term and the definition of success in the next 5-10 years.  Commenting on the journey so far, Ben says: “Meet as many people as possible, seek value from every situation. Try and be proactive in giving as well as taking. Be patient and be brave!”

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