Business support in Devon

Hundreds of businesses in Plymouth have received a helping hand through a package of support made possible by the Additional Restrictions Grant.

Plymouth City Council put in place a series of free business support contracts to help firms get back on their feet after the pandemic and to give entrepreneurs the support they need. A total of 234 businesses benefited from these business support contracts, including 33 newly created businesses and 21 new social enterprises.

From helping people into self-employment or assistance with setting up new businesses or supporting existing businesses looking to relaunch.

Two of the contracts – traditional Business Start-up Support and the Inspirational Entrepreneurship Programme (Community Entrepreneurship), both run by YTKO, targeted people who were thinking about setting up a business, sole traders, businesses that were less than two years or businesses re-starting/re-launching.

These contracts helped create 33 new start-ups, provided support to 23 young businesses and eventually had 119 individuals engaged and supported 49 individuals.

Startups on the go

Beth Paisley is an illustrator and sells plantable greeting cards on seed paper via Etsy and wholesale through local gift shops.  She recently registered with HMRC as self-employed and is on a mission to create products that will stand the test of time, as sustainability is key.  Her new business features on Instagram (BethPaisleyArtist) and she recently ventured on to TikTok.

Artist Beth Paisley smiling

Beth said: “It has changed my life – the best thing I have ever stumbled across on Eventbrite.  My confidence has soared, and I feel really supported, it has brought great opportunities too including the chance for new collaborations.  I have also overcome my fears around social media. It felt like a form of individual therapy!”

Pandemic skills lead to new business

The pandemic meant a long stint of remote working for Naomi Wisbey and an opportunity to learn how to make some seriously good bread. Having then lost her job, she decided to take the plunge and seriously explore her passion for baking. 

Over a year on, she has registered as a sole trader and launched her business ‘Baking Wisbeys’.  She regularly sells cakes, artisan bread and savoury snacks at weekly pop-ups, outdoor markets and selected outlets in Plymouth.  She has also made strides in building an engaged community who share her passion on Instagram and Facebook.

Business support

Another contract was designed to provide business support for digital solutions. Run by Cosmic, Digital Boost Plymouth delivered 37 workshops, 68 one to one sessions to 40 businesses, and 80 unique businesses benefited from the support including boosting sales using online channels and providing online business support

START Social by School for Social Entrepreneurs aimed to provide support and advice for social entrepreneurs and new social enterprises. It helped create 21 new social enterprise start-ups, as well as conducted 61 diagnostic sessions, 26 one to one advice sessions, and 18 surgery sessions.  Recipients of their support It include the Plymouth Book Co-op, a bookshop, library, workshop and events space, which will be a co-operative, run by its members.

Jessie Cotter- founder of the Plymouth Book Co-op said: “The START Social programme has been incredibly helpful at outlining each part of starting up a business. I moved to Plymouth in late summer and joined the programme that winter so although the concept of a book co-op has been knocking around my head and in conversations for a long time, it felt daunting to set one up in a new place without knowing many people. Learning about market research and talking about the project with fellow entrepreneurs gave me the confidence to persevere.”

Net Zero sustainable projects

Last but not least a project Make It Net Zero by SWMAS Ltd designed to help businesses on their journey to net zero and develop clean growth strategies saw over 200 businesses attend 10 events. Light touch support was given to 47 businesses and more intensive support to six businesses, which included premises’ visits, audits and bespoke action plans.

Alderman Tooling was committed to finding a way to achieve Net Zero but was unsure where to start.  Alderman Tooling mentioned that prior to the support, their business was unsure about how to calculate its carbon footprint and how best to develop a strategic plan for carbon reduction. However, the Plymouth Net Zero support has provided a clear and simple pathway to develop a pragmatic and achievable range of improvements.

All these contracts ended in April 2022, except for Plymouth Net Zero, which continues to deliver.

Councillor Mark Shayer, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “Behind these incredible statistics are people looking to set up businesses, to make something of themselves and to support themselves and their families.

“I am delighted a small investment in these projects is making a huge difference to so many people. There’s some incredibly exciting businesses coming online here in Plymouth, which is great for our economy and our city.”

Funding for each contract was as follows

  • Traditional Business Start-up Support by YTKO – £32,642.
  • Inspirational Entrepreneurship Programme by YTKO – £29,916.
  • Digital Boost Plymouth by Cosmic – £35,200.
  • START Social by School for Social Entrepreneurs – £39,100
  • Make it Net Zero – £100,000

If you’re thinking of starting a business, but not sure what to focus on, check out our ideas for Devon startups.