Enterprising folk earn praise

Meeting of Clowne Enterprise business forum (w101215-4a)
Meeting of Clowne Enterprise business forum (w101215-4a)

IN the bleak mid-winter when frosty wind, and the rest of us, are making moan, it’s nice to know there are some rays of sunshine out there.

Enterprising people are battling against the recession-hit odds to make a go of new businesses.

The award-winning Clowne Enterprise is an organisation encouraging and promoting start-up businesses in an area hard-hit by unemployment.

It began life as Bizfizz in 2004, a Government-funded programme, and is headed by enterprise coach and businessman Paul Davies who is now chief executive.

He is enthusiatic about the potential for local people to forge their own businesses and has the success stories to prove it can be done.

From the Clowne Enterprise Business Centre, on Station Road, where all eight offices are occupied, he said: “Since 2004 we have seen 450 people and helped over 140 new businesses to start up, creating over 170 new jobs.”

“People who have grown up with a culture of not working sometimes start to think that they need permission to even think about starting up their own business.”

“They come in almost apologetically and ask if it’s alright for them to have a go. We’ve had some great successes.”

Like Tony Smith who began learning about therapeutic massage after a near-fatal motorbike accident 11 years ago. He was working out of his garden shed when he approached Paul and asked for advice about setting up in business.

“He just needed someone to help him decide whether or not to go for premises. He took the plunge and opened a clinic on North Road, Clowne, called Phyzical Therapies.”

“A lot of the time it’s just about giving someone a confidence boost and saying yes you can do it.”

Tracey and Allan Stoddart bought two wedding cars but found it difficult to get into wedding fayres which seemed to be a bit of a closed shop.

Undeterred they started running their own fayres.

“They’ve also branched out into doing tiaras and wedding dresses. People have genuinely changed their lives by having the ideas and the confidence to do something for themselves.”

Paul, who lives near Chesterfield, has firsthand experience of building a business himself so he knows of what he speaks.

He worked for Ford Motors for years before setting up his own management consultancy which he built up to a £4m annual turnover.

He works three days a week for Clowne Enterprise and his wages are paid with funding from the Government and the European Social Fund.

The business centre pays for itself through the rent from tenants. Clowne Enterprise is a member of the Development Trust Association and Paul does consulting work for other trusts as well.

He has also fostered a network of businesses prepared to help each other out. Members meet for a monthly lunch and have contact via e-bulletins and Facebook.

Paul is keen to continue forging links with local schools, in particular Clowne’s Heritage School.

“I really want school leavers to at least be aware that, as well as continuing in education or going to work for someone else, there is another option. They can aim to work for themselves.”

Paul can be contacted on 07973 522772 or at paul@clowne-enterprise.org.uk.