The Business Dream programme is designed to help and support SMEs as they set up, become established and grow. Project manager Sheridan Sulskis explains…

“Our offer is a long-term business support service featuring locally delivered group workshops and access to relevant resources and start-up finance. We believe that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when starting a business – that is why our unique approach aims to provide clients with specialist support tailored to their needs.

“We believe that what clients can learn through our support can always be applied to their own business venture, job search or indeed any other activity they choose. If any budding entrepreneurs would like our help turning their dream into a living and breathing startup, we are here to support them and applying for the programme is simple. Just call our ‘Dream Team’ on 07494 442869 or email us at galya.dimitrova@cwrt.uk.com and we will take you through the process.”

Among those to benefit from the programme is Bryan Thorpe who has set up a hog roast business. Here, he explains his pathway into business – with the help of Business Dream

Tell us a bit about yourself. You used to be in the army before you settled in Nuneaton – what was your life like before you decided to pursue a business idea?
I was mainly working for agencies, warehouses, labouring, and served in the army for quite a bit which I enjoyed. I worked for two years in a restaurant, and went to a Chinese cooking academy for a year. I enjoy cooking for friends and family so thought I’d turn my passion and hobby into something that could potentially earn some money.

What business are you hoping to set up and how did you arrive at this idea?
I want to set up a ‘hog roasting’ business. I did a lot of research into festivals and fairs and what people enjoy and found that food was very popular at these events. I just want to be able to offer a good quality, local produce that makes my customers happy. I have already asked by one of the other clients on The Business Dream to do a hog roast for her child’s Christening so it’s a positive start so far!

Why hog roasting? Is it because you enjoy outdoor activities within the community?
Yes,I am definitely more of an outdoor person so this business suits me well.

What are the next steps towards launching your business?
The next is the hardest thing! I don’t know a lot about finance. I will try to apply for some of the grants so that I get the equipment that I need. I don’t want to jump into anything big straight away but just get the basics – website, advertising, equipment. The more work I do, the more I will be able to upgrade and reinvest the money back into the business.

I have already spoken to a lot of festival organisers about what they want and expect. So I have a lot of things in my head and work with the mentor towards breaking it into manageable chunks.

Why did you sign up for The Business Dream?
As per your advert, you may have an idea for business that to you is crazy, quirky or out of the norm but until you explain it to others you will never know whether it is a good idea or not. You never know until you try and make it become reality. I would definitely recommend the workshops, even if just to see evaluate if starting a business is for you, plus you get the chance to meet a lot of people, pick their brains and get their support.

So far, what has been the most useful part of the support provided to you?
All the workshops I attended I found really useful! Michelle, my mentor, is really helpful, amazing and knows a lot of things. I have scheduled more appointments with her and will see how to move onto the next steps of obtaining finance and getting the business launched.

How have the mentoring sessions helped you so far?
Michelle knowing other people that she recommends me connect to. Through her, I had so much help from other people. Another programme client, Maxine will help me find a place for a photo shoot once she sets up her photography business. I am looking forward to the programme’s networking events as well. It is good for us to give ideas to each other. Some might work some might not but the more ideas you have the better.

Would you recommend the programme to other ex-servicemen and why?
Absolutely because you meet people in everyday life, in employment or not. With your own business you have your own freedom. Some ex-servicemen find it hard to adjust to civilian life because they have a very structured life. But when you leave the army, there is no one to tell you what to do but you don’t know what to do, either.

From my point of view, it might be a big thing with the festivals. It could be a bit daunting and nervous in the beginning, but the more you attend, you will have people come to you. People might ask you for other events, I might have to travel to weddings, etc. That is more work and it will be like a chain reaction.

I can’t wait to set up!

Anything to add?
If you have an idea and you are not sure, big or small, just go on a workshop, give it a try. I definitely recommend them. I didn’t know which way to go down but with hard work it will happen. The gaps will be filled. And don’t forget to ask other people questions about your ideas!

*The IEP, part-funded by ERDF, is run by Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT), a not-for-profit specialist finance provider committed to supporting businesses and individuals primarily based in Coventry and Warwickshire. CWRT has partnered with The Women’s Economy (WE), and Warwickshire County Council, to offer specialist business support in Warwickshire through the new and unique Inclusive Enterprise Programme.