Free business advice worth £1,200 from business support programme Growing Corby has helped Corby Mum, Emma Wilkie launch a new online gift shop, www.UniqueBootikeGifts.co.uk
Emma, who for a long time has been buying small amounts of unusual gift items online, decided to take the plunge in July this year and launch her own business. For the past several years her goal before she reached the age of 30, had been to become self-employed; this year, age 29, she achieved her dream.
Initially, Emma received support from the Princes Trust to set up the business and get it off the ground but says the free market research and business advice she has received from Growing Corby has been ‘amazing’.
Emma said: “I’d been buying stock for a while and had set up the business but l then got stuck. I had all this stock but people didn’t know about me and so l wasn’t selling much. I got talking to someone who mentioned the market research support provided by Growing Corby and got straight on the phone to find out more.
“I met with Parag Shah from the University of Northampton, told him what l do and we went from there. He did lots of research into the gift industry and the types of items people tend to buy. The information l was given was fantastic and gave me a valuable understanding of the market l need to be targeting and the products l should be purchasing.
“I’ve met regularly with Parag and he has also helped me translate the report findings into practical actions to help me drive my business forward, for example advice and guidance on search engine optimisation so my website can be found, which is the key to the success of my business.
“I’m so grateful for the help and support l’ve received from Growing Corby and l’m now looking forward to putting all of the recommendations into action and growing my business.”
In the long term, Emma is hoping to develop www.UniqueBootikeGifts.co.uk further, have a small warehouse and create jobs for local people.
As well as free market research, Growing Corby is helping businesses in Corby grow through a number of initiatives including grants, innovation coaching, paid internships and specialist support for social enterprises.
Anthony Richardson is Marketing and Communications Manager for Growing Corby, he said: “Supporting new businesses like Emma’s is exactly the reason why Growing Corby was established. We have lots of free support available to SMEs in Corby that can really make a difference to the future growth of firms and the local economy.
“The Growing Corby programme is running up to June 2015 so we are now urging businesses in Corby to contact us as soon as possible to take advantage of this free support while it’s still on offer.”
The Growing Corby programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and offers support for SMEs in Corby such as market research, grants of up to £2,500, free coaching and an internship service.