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Notch – The Mark of Achievement

“HEY Growth Hub were great, it was really easy to deal with them from supporting us with the grant application, ensuring all of the wording was right and all of the documentation was filled in properly.” – Mike Gibbins, Notch

Notch – The Mark of Achievement

My name is Mike Gibbins, I’m one of the Co-Founders of Notch (The Mark of Achievement). We manufacture and sell achievement bracelets – the concept behind Notch is we have a bracelet, which is an engravable charm bracelet and we engrave charms for everything and anything that people are proud of and want to achieve.

Myself and Chris Healy set the business up in 2017 and we developed the product over a period of time.

What did you need support with as a business before engaging with the #GrowMySME scheme?
So, before we found out about HEY Growth Hub, we developed a UK-only website, we were growing it via social media and SEO predominantly – we found out about HEY Growth Hub attending a couple of webinars on internationalisation and international growth.

We approached them and talked about grant applications, they helped us with a grant to support the redevelopment of the website. Part of the redevelopment of the website allowed us to create 4 different language versions of our website and we did that with German, French, Spanish and Dutch.

How was working with the #GrowMySME scheme impacted your business?
The development took a reasonable amount of time in terms of the website development. We’ve only been launched with the international version of the site for a few months, but we can see that our orders relative to this time last year, prior to having internationalised the site, are increasing.

Did you attend any #GrowMySME scheme events or webinars?
The first webinar that we attended actually came through as a speculative email from HEY Growth Hub to the business inviting us to come along to it; we thought it was a good idea as it looked like the right thing for us.

It was really useful to be on the webinar, not just talking to HEY Growth Hub, but also talking to other businesses, like-minded people, like-minded businesses as well to share ideas.

What does the next 12 months hold for your business?
So, it’s quite exciting times really for Notch in the next 12 months. The quota on next year is we’re pushing the international side of the business; we’re going to promote in the 4 regions we set the site up for. Alongside that, we’ve got a large rollout into the high street, so we’re rolling out to 10 stores at the moment.

Would you recommend the #GrowMySME scheme to other businesses?
HEY Growth Hub were great, it was really easy to deal with them from supporting us with the grant application, ensuring all of the wording was right and all of the documentation was filled in properly.

The process has been super easy, super quick and I would definitely recommend working them.

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Birch Sheet Metal

“But from my personal experience regarding everybody at HEY Growth Hub, they’re just a really good bunch of people who want to see you succeed – we’ve had nothing but praise.” – Neil Pratt, Birch Sheet Metal

Birch Sheet Metal

My name is Neil Pratt, I’m the Manager at Birch Sheet Metal and we’ve been established 30 plus years now. We supply all different types of industries, from the digital label industry, to marine, to shop fitting etc.

What did you need support with as a business before engaging with the #GrowMySME scheme?
So, I got in touch with HEY Growth Hub after I had taken over as Manager here about 3 years ago. I was coming from the shop floor rather than from a managerial position, so I recognised straight away my own weaknesses in moving into the managerial role, as well as the issues within the business that we needed to change to try and generate more work and make people more aware of us as a brand and business. They put us in touch with CDI Alliance and they were really invaluable in kind of helping us doing online courses and webinars regarding the business, structure, and management.

How did you find out about the #GrowMySME scheme?
I got in touch with HEY Growth Hub, who put me in touch with Kevin Cassidy. I found him a great benefit just for his experience, he’s kind of been and there and done it. He was really good at just listening to our ideas, recognising what were the good ones and what were the bad ones and being really supportive in what areas we could access funding and support etc.

Did you attend any workshops?
Especially over the pandemic, because we couldn’t attend any face-to-face ones, there was quite a few online webinars where we could get 3 or 4 different businesses together. Even though you weren’t in competition with each other, it was interesting listening to how they were working their way through the pandemic and what support they were getting. Even though there were quite a few industries which had slowed down, some had come to a complete stop, we were still fairly busy but not at the 100 mile an hour that we are now.

How has working with #GrowMySME opened up new opportunities for your business?
One of the things that we did with HEY Growth Hub was recognise some of the shortfalls within our workshop and the things we needed to modernise. They helped us and pointed us in the right direction of a website, which we’ve got a new one under construction at the minute. They also helped us with grant funding, with buying some new equipment, so we managed to get grant funding to buy a new 3-meter 100 tonne, which allows us to work in different markets and to work to a much greater accuracy.

Would you recommend the #GrowMySME scheme?
I kind of viewed HEY Growth Hub as what’s the worst that could happen. You get to network with loads of other companies, make some really good contacts etc. But from my personal experience regarding everybody at HEY Growth Hub, they’re just a really good bunch of people who want to see you succeed – we’ve had nothing but praise.

Could you sum up your experience in three words?
From day one, they’ve been really supportive, really informative, everything has just been really invaluable regarding where we are and what we’ve got from it.

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Valkyrie Wilderness Workshops

“One of the hardest things for me to do was to ask for support, ask for help, because of pride, ego, fear etc. But I was instantly at ease, at not one point did I feel I’m out of my depth here or asking silly questions, they were always very accommodating. “- Steve Baxter, Valkyrie Wilderness Workshops

Valkyrie Wilderness Workshops

I’m Steve Baxter and my background is I’m an Armed Forces Veteran of the Scottish Infantry. I decided to start my own peer support organisation and we called it Valkyrie Wilderness Workshops.

So, Valkyrie Wilderness Workshops is all about recovery based around peer support – so it’s like-minded people in a non-judgemental environment which is confidential, where you can talk and take the lid of the pressure cooker.

There are activities here like axe throwing, bushcraft, archery, field archery, woodwork, whittling etc. Whatever anyone’s imagination can bring to the table, we’ll make it happen.

How did you find out about the #GrowMySME scheme?
I had no idea how to start an organisation, build an organisation, register an organisation – so I got in touch with North Bank Forum, there was a lady called Pippa I was working with initially and she was fantastic; she sort of sign posted me on there.

The main thing is that they kept me going and made me believe in me. That’s kind of spiralled and snowballed into Valkyrie and now it’s organic, it runs itself.

How has working with #GrowMySME opened up new opportunities for your business?
The opportunity was, it made me believe in myself more than anything. Looking for funding, I didn’t have a clue about any of that. I was getting emails through about grants that were becoming available and then I was getting assistance and looking into funding in the early days. Obviously, as Valkyrie has progressed and we’ve brought in other directors who can deal with that, we can always reference back and tie back in and say we’ve done this etc.

What impact has #GrowMySME had on your business?
Without them at the start, there’s a lot of people today who wouldn’t be in a better place, so I link that directly back to the support I got at the start.

We’re getting a lot of interest now and there’s a lot of organisations looking to work with us, get referrals in, so future-wise I can see more Valkyries popping up around the country.

What advice would you give to new businesses starting out?
Pick up the phone, go online, search for them. One of the hardest things for me to do was to ask for support, ask for help, because of pride, ego, fear etc. But I was instantly at ease, at not one point did I feel I’m out of my depth here or asking silly questions, they were always very accommodating.

If you want to get in touch with us, you can find us on Facebook: @ValkyrieWildernessWorkshopsCIC

Or on our website:

wilderness-workshops.com

It’s definitely been a journey, but it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life.

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North Lincolnshire Motorcycles

“It’s been really helpful, informative, and constructive towards my business. As far as the #GrowMySME scheme goes, I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s been fantastic for me; I’ve met different people and each one of them couldn’t be more supportive.” – Gary Johnson, North Lincolnshire Motorcycles

North Lincolnshire Motorcycles

Hi there, I’m Gary Johnson, and this is North Lincolnshire Motorcycles. We distribute and sell affordable motorcycles for the road, dirt bikes, quads and buggies.

What did you need support with as a business before engaging with the #GrowMySME scheme?
Starting a business up in Covid has been really difficult – people haven’t been allowed to come to the shop, so I’ve had to grow my online presence, which in a way has been good for me. Unfortunately, it’s not something that comes naturally to me with my background being in racing motorbikes; using computers and doing things that sort of way isn’t natural for me. I came across the grant scheme and they’ve helped me to get my online presence, build my SME and start growing my business.

A lady called Josie got in touch with me online, we did a web call then she came down to the shop and saw what we were all about. From there, she stipulated that I had to 12 hours work towards the grant to qualify, but it turned out we did a hell of a lot more – Josie was so much help throughout.

How has working with #GrowMySME opened up new opportunities for your business?
The help I gained made me focus more on the digital side of my business. Originally, with my background, I thought people would just come and buy motorbikes but found out that my online side was a lot more important.

Different opportunities that have become available to us has been that more people see what I’m selling. Also, I’ve been working hard on the Facebook stuff – ultimately, it’s made me more organised.

What support have you accessed so far through the #GrowMySME scheme?
Sorting everything out to get the grants has been pretty straightforward – Josie and the guys all helped me do that, they kind of lead-roped me through the whole thing, and it was quite a pleasant experience. Every time they helped me with something, they usually helped me with something else.

Could you sum up your experience in three words?
It’s been really helpful, informative, and constructive towards my business.

As far as the #GrowMySME scheme goes, I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s been fantastic for me; I’ve met different people and each one of them couldn’t be more supportive.

 

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Digital Catalyst – Lincs Therapy

“I became increasingly interested in how I could make these services that we’ve got available to a wider range of people. We were exploring ways in which we could make that more available, and then just coincidentally the Digital Catalyst programme came out, we signed up for it, and we ended up – I think – being the person on the Digital Catalyst programme”

Brian Pope, Lincs Therapy

Digital Catalyst – Lincs Therapy

Brian Pope of Lincs Therapy – a provider of mental health & psychological support services – talks about how the #GrowMySME Digital Catalyst scheme has helped the business to diversify the business’s services via virtual delivery.

Traditionally, psychotherapy is carried out face to face, and yet since the onset of Covid-19, all of Lincs Therapy’s services have had to be delivered virtually. In light of this, Brian advises that in hindsight, many clients prefer to attend an appointment via virtual delivery for reasons of anonymity, and to also counter the anxiety that an in-person appointment may bring. The business now believes that virtual delivery is “here to stay” and have fully embraced this digital approach to service delivery.

Brian and Lincs Therapy first became aware of Digital Catalyst after exploring ways that the company could make their service available to a wider range of people. Coincidentally, this cooincided with the launch of Digital Catalyst and Lincs Therapy became the first business to enrol onto the scheme.

The digital maturity assessment that the business undertook shortly after enrolling onto Digital Catalyst highlighted many areas where digital technology could be adopted – many of these areas had never been thought about before by the business.

Brian had never previously come across the concept of a ‘digitally disruptive period’ and he has found this profoundly impacting on the opportunities that companies like Lincs Therapy can now access.

Digital Catalyst has helped Lincs Therapy by raising the business’s awareness of the wealth of opportunity available via digital delivery; this being part of the ‘wave of change’ that the digital revolution – the so called ‘fourth industrial revolution’ – has brought to doing business.

Brian would encourage any business to “go for it” and get involved with Digital Catalyst, advising others to “go into it with an open mind”. The business found the overall process very constructive, and it has forced Brian and his colleagues to “demolish the traditional ways” that they had been doing things. Digital Catalyst therefore helped the company to see a new direction and opportunity, and then supported them to explore ways to move in that new direction and capitalise on the opportunity.

As a result of Digital Catalyst, the company has developed a number of new virtually delivered brands; one of which, ‘Lincs Clinics’, quickly become oversubscribed.  Another new brand still in development is highly innovative and has resulted in the business collaborating with the University of Lincoln to explore a virtual-reality based ‘proof of concept’.

Overall, Digital Catalyst has helped Lincs Therapy to:

  • Generate more referrals for services
  • Develop and implement new services
  • Aid overall business growth via diversification

 

July 2021

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Digital Catalyst – Grayton Limited

“How would I assess the Digital Maturity Assessment? Mind-blowing… is the word that I would use! The opportunities that we are not using… it’s not something I’ve previously thought about, but being asked those ten to fifteen questions about ‘what do you do as a company’, I found myself ticking all the boxes that said ‘we don’t do that, that’s not the way we work’. And so, the opportunities for improvement were huge”

Richard Marshall, Grayton Limited 

Digital Catalyst – Grayton Limited

Richard Marshall of Grayton Limited – a structural and mechanical engineering company – talks about how the #GrowMySME Digital Catalyst scheme has helped the business to explore digital solutions to traditional business issues.

‘Technology and digital’ did not use to be a key focus for Grayton. Working in the perceived “old fashioned” industries of steel and cement meant that the business had not changed how they dealt with business processes for twenty years.

After enrolling on the Digital Catalyst scheme, the company found the digital maturity assessment – which is the first stage of the scheme – “mind-blowing”. The results of the assessment showcased the wide range of opportunities that the company was not taking, which Richard found remarkable. Richard and his colleagues found that being asked the ten questions on the maturity assessment was a thought provoking and valuable exercise, with the result being that the opportunities for business improvement via use of digital technology were huge.

The Digital Catalyst scheme has given the company “quick and simple” support, and has enabled the company to adopt digital scanning technology and integrate it into established company processes. For example, Grayton now places barcodes onto a range of key business documentation, and when scanned  allows for instant and automatic filing in the cloud. This has made the search for historic company data, information and documents extremely quick and easy. Richard says that while that might be a really simple step-change, it has been highly effective as it has given the company some space back, which can now be used as “part of the business” rather than “part of the storage”.

Richard would encourage any business to get involved with Digital Catalyst scheme, and ask the question “what is there to lose”? Due to enrolling onto the Digital Catalyst scheme, Richard became ‘consciously incompetent’ whereas previously he was in the position of “not knowing what he didn’t know”. Digital Catalyst was able to explain to Richard what Grayton could be doing better and how the company could harness digital solutions throughout its operations.

Grayton is now regularly hosting virtual staff and client meetings, using virtual videoconferencing software, and can now offer “face to face” meetings across the country – virtually! The company can now move faster than it’s ever moved before, and now communicates good ideas almost immediately.

Overall, Digital Catalyst has helped Grayton Limited to:

  • Implement faster decision making
  • Develop efficient home working
  • Adopt improved asset usage

 

July 2021

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INIT Creative

“Our advisor at the Humber Business Growth Hub has provided 24/7 access and has gone above and
beyond every time we’ve needed his assistance. I really can’t speak too highly of the service they have provided to us.”

Brendan Storch

INIT Creative

Hull-based creative agency and #GrowMySME client INIT Creative have been appointed to take charge of the World Professional Billiards & Snooker Association (WPBSA) new website builds. The WPBSA is the world governing body for the sports of snooker and billiards and owns and publishes the official rules of the two sports.

INIT Creative Director Adam Storch said, “We’re delighted to be working with the WPBSA on this exciting new project. Sport is a fundamental part of many people’s lives and has a magical ability to bring us all together, even during the most troubled of times.”

The INIT team will be responsible for designing and creating 6 separate sites for the WPBSA, including those for World Women’s Snooker and World Disability Billiards and Snooker.

Account Director Zipporah Kuria added, “Actively promoting diversity is one of our core tenets as a company; that’s why we’re thrilled to be able to give World Women’s Snooker and World Disability Billiards and Snooker the same level of attention that we will give to the World Governing Body site.”

INIT Creative have been able to build upon their earlier successes thanks in part to the support afforded them by the Humber LEP Business Growth Hub.

“Especially during these periods of great economic uncertainty,” states Director Brendan Storch, “the advice and help we have received from the Humber LEP Business Growth Hub has proved invaluable to our survival and continued growth. Indeed, our advisor at the Humber Business Growth Hub has provided 24/7 access and has gone above and beyond every time we’ve needed his assistance. I really can’t speak too highly of the service they have provided to us.”

The appointment of INIT Creative is seen as a real feather in the cap for the city of Hull as it looks to cement its place as a leading light in the business community. The websites are due to be finished and live by the end of the year.

July 2020

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Arcteq Limited

“The support we have received has been fantastic, we are certain that the investment will open new doors in 2020.”

Rob Stratford

Arcteq Limited

Arcteq Limited, a respected engineering company in Grimsby, is experiencing a surge in job applications after investing more than £70,000 into its facilities. Directors Rob Stratford and Steve Wrightham recognised a hurdle that could potentially slow the growth of the business, and so they began working with the Humber Business Growth Hub’s #GrowMySME Programme.

In 2018, Arcteq had relocated to its own large facility on a prime Grimsby industrial estate, a site with huge potential and plentiful space for the business to develop. The company boasts Engie, Synthomer, and BOC as clients, and it was time for Rob and Steve to expand the workforce to accommodate increasing demand for services. However, the existing on-site staff facilities weren’t up to scratch and the Directors knew they needed to do something to entice potential employees to join the company.

Arcteq worked closely with Growth Hub Business Advisor, Kevin Franklin, who supported the business as part of the #GrowMySME Programme. Together, they completed a grant application, which would allow the business to expand and renovate the existing staff facilities. They developed business plans and forecasts, identified future growth opportunities and collated supporting evidence; the application was successful and Arcteq was awarded a grant with a total of £72,666 invested into the property.

Work has now been completed on the updated facilities, which includes a staff mess room and a brand new washroom. In addition to this, Arcteq also invested in new signage to enhance the business’ on-site impressions, and on security fencing. Arcteq are now receiving an increasing number of CVs from engineers across the Humber region who are eager to join the company. In recent months, the team has welcomed three new employees and has plans for further recruitment, as well as launching an apprenticeship programme in 2020.

Kevin and the #GrowMySME Programme are continuing to support Arcteq with ambitious growth plans, including achieving ISO 9001 accreditations by spring of 2020, and the development of a brand-new business, Quality Engineering Services Ltd (QES).

Steve said: “The Humber Business Growth Hub saw the potential not only in the Arcteq team, but also in the site – with the new link road being built – and investment opportunities on the Humber Gate Industrial Estate.

Rob added: “The support we have received has been fantastic, we are certain that the investment will open new doors in 2020.”

 

February 2020

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Petit Delight

“Kevin has been like a sounding board for our ideas for the website and marketing, contracts and hiring, creating a framework of what we can action right now and what we are planning for in the future.”
James and Elena Robinson

Petit Delight

Petit Delight, located in Cleethorpes’ popular Sea View Street, has been a much-loved brasserie and café in the resort for many years. In June 2019, it was taken over by James and Elena Robinson, who have firm ideas for the direction of the business and future of the venue.

Before buying the business, James was the Head Chef at Petit Delight and fully understands not only the ins-and-outs of the business, but the resort’s hospitality sector too. He had a vision for Petit Delight and as a new business owner, wanted support in moving forward, helping the business reach its full potential.

Kevin Franklin, Growth Hub Business Advisor at E-Factor Business, began working with James and the team, starting with an extensive feedback and planning session with all staff members. During the day-long workshop, employees were asked to share their opinions about different areas of the business to help James and Elena put practical steps in place to bring about significant changes and improvements to the day to day operations, as well as guide future developments and grow their vision.

From this, Kevin and James were able to work together on business plans for Petit Delight, assisting with forecasting and cash flow, marketing opportunities, recruitment and job creation. The goal is to ensure the running of Petit Delight remains sustainable for the long-term.

In October 2019, the Brasserie of Petit Delight underwent a significant refurbishment, complete with new menus and tableware to reflect the business’ vision. Plans are in place for the transformation of the first-floor function rooms and the introduction of a brand-new bar area.

Already, James has employed four new team members with more jobs being created in 2020. The staff will also undergo up-skilling and professional development as the business works with a local training provider.

After being referred by Kevin, James will be having 1-2-1 consultations with E-Factor’s specialist business advisor to the food sector under the GAIN project, whilst still having support and guidance from Kevin and the Humber Business Growth Hub and its #GrowMySME Programme.

James said: “Big changes were needed when we bought the business. What Kevin has helped us to do is find a way to speak openly about why we’re doing what we’re doing and what we’re doing it for. The feedback session was a great day, it brought out a lot of issues and ideas to consider, it felt like we were starting fresh from that day. We needed that time to stand still, be quiet and calm so we could focus on what we want to achieve.

“Kevin has been like a sounding board for our ideas for the website and marketing, contracts and hiring, creating a framework of what we can action right now and what we are planning for in the future.”

Kevin, Growth Hub Business Advisor, added: “It has been a pleasure working with James and Elena as part of the Growth Hub’s #GrowMySME Programme, to help develop their vision for Petit Delight.  Already having a strong business presence in the town, the new owners were keen to develop the business and ‘put their stamp’ on future developments with some fantastic ideas for new menus, staff training and development and fully utilising this wonderful, flexible venue.

“The workshop with staff was a very positive session, with staff fully engaged in providing feedback to some key questions relating to the current operation and their ideas and suggestions for moving the business forward. In fact, I was really surprised with their willingness to engage in this process and some of the really positive suggestions which will help James and Elena crystallise their plans for the future. Obviously, this is the start of their journey and I we will be meeting regularly as the business develops.”

 

January 2020

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Total Signs & Graphics

“We found a big gap in the market that we couldn’t fulfill at all, we needed to look at new machines, we wanted to expand our business and we approached the local advisor who came along to see us and everything went from there!”

James Cody, Total Signs & Graphics

Total Signs & Graphics

My name is James Cody I’m the operations director for Total Signs & Graphics. We’re a small size business with 13 employees, producing signage for products, graphics for small businesses and nationwide multinationals as well.

What did you need support with as a business before enrolling on the Business Growth Scheme?
We found a big gap in the market that we couldn’t fulfill at all, we needed to look at new machines, we wanted to expand our business and we approached the local advisor who came along to see us and everything went from there!

What support have you accessed through the #GrowMySME programme?
The support we’ve accessed has helped us to produce a business plan and our cashflow forecasts and everything we need set up to be able to take the grant money and to be able to buy a new machine for our business.

How has working with #GrowMySME opened up new opportunities for your business?
It has made a huge positive impact without the financial support, without the advice we wouldn’t be able to afford to do business, there’s no way we would be able to afford new machinery and take on more staff. So far we’ve taken on two members of staff, we’re looking to take a third member of staff at the start of next year. With the new machinery in the building, we’ll be able to train all staff, we’ll be able to access new markets we never thought would be attainable to us at all. We’ll be able to satisfy current customers with new products, we’ll be able to take on whole new projects. The project themselves would never have been able to complete them on time without having new machinery.

Would you recommend the #GrowMySME Programme to other businesses?
If you want to take further your business, speak to advisors. We know, we couldn’t have growth without the help from #GrowMySME.

How easy was the process?
There’s a very easy process, helped along by the advisors for the cashflow forecasts, looking at certain areas of the business and any improvements we could make, not much paperwork at all. It helped us learn a lot about our business as well, it’s another tangible benefit we found going through this.

What does the next 12 months hold for your business?
Expansion and expansion really at the moment. We’re getting into these new markets at the moment, working a lot more multi-nationally, looking to expand outside of the UK as well with products and services. Onwards and upwards. We’ll be speaking to him again hopefully in the next 12 to 18 months on the next level expansion. We’re not stopping now, we know this system works and we’ll keep going. #GrowMySME

 

December 2019

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