A business support service set up by Bradford Council to help small companies to adapt and survive during the Covid-19 pandemic has been hailed a success by local small business owners.
Bradford District Microbusiness Support programme set up in November 2020 offered free professional advice, workshops and one-to-one sessions to hundreds of small businesses allowing them to innovate in face of huge economic pressures caused by coronavirus.
The scheme supported 140 businesses in one-to-one support sessions and 415 businesses registered for workshops run by Yorkshire- founded business consultants, Insight With Passion.
Over 25 per cent of businesses supported were from Black and South Asian ethnic backgrounds.
The service was viewed as a lifeline for small businesses giving them vital support, guidance and ideas to help them recover and thrive through the tough times.
Many of those supported credited the service with their businesses survival.
The service offered fresh new ideas for growth and covered marketing, e-commerce and customer engagement.
Advice on finances, cash flow and pricing was given along with guidance on recruitment and social media.
The service helped businesses navigate and comply with the sometimes complex and changing government Covid regulations and provided business owner wellbeing support.
Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “We are delighted with the success of our microbusiness support service which probably saved hundreds of businesses from the worst of the economic pressures driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“By supporting small firms to innovate in the face of multiple challenges, this scheme has allowed hundreds of local firms survive and thrive during some of the toughest trading conditions in living memory.”
Cristina Guardini from La Libellula Massage Therapy in Bradford , said: “I really appreciate this support and the time taken to support me. The service has really gone above and beyond and it has been so helpful.”
Samantha Yates from Lil Rabbitfoot in Shipley, said: “As a sole trader, its invaluable to bounce ideas off someone else. The support programme reinforced the areas I needed to develop in and also gave me new options to explore.”
Chantelle Buck-Forest at Happy Planet Play Centre, Baildon: “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I contacted Microbusiness Support Service; and so when Laura and connected I was so happy. She came from a similar mindset as me and she gave me some really useful ideas and rerouted my focus into the right direction. I implemented some of her ideas and they worked great. I have now opened a business that I enjoy and a place where everyone else enjoys being at too.”
Lara Oyedele, from Black on Board in Bradford, said: “Laura at Insight With Passion provided my very new business with innovative support and expert advice. Laura’s extensive experience in business management was evident in the thought provoking and inspiring suggestions she offered to me. I can confirm that Laura most definitely has a head for business.”
Joanne Nalson from Sewing Days in Keighley, said: “Thank you very much for all your help, it was very useful and you really did help me. Used quite a lot of the information you gave me.”
Becky Kettlewell from, Kettlewell Groundworks in Queensbury, said: “I’ve tuned in for quite a few of the live webinars offered to small businesses throughout the pandemic and they’ve been amazing. So much value and all for free to help keep people positive about their businesses!
“I’ve also had a one-to-one with Laura who gave me loads of ideas on how we could keep up the momentum with our social media during the Winter months which are generally quieter for our business. It’s great to connect and speak with other, local, like minded small business owners. No business jargon or being made to feel small, just honest, useful, and relatable help from people you can tell care!”
Kate Hardcastle from Insight With Passion, said: “The scheme supported 140 businesses in one-to-one support sessions and 415 businesses registered for workshops created and delivered by Yorkshire founded business experts, Insight With Passion.
“Bradford needs a vibrant small business community as well as larger organisations to ensure a vibrant economy and wealth of opportunities for the area. The area is home to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesses.”