A pair of friends who set up their own training business are already reaping the rewards, less than 12 months since it launched.

Caroline Dakin and Sarah Brennan established Burnley-based Evolving Edge after more than 15 years working in learning and development for large organisations.

They decided to set up in business in 2015, knowing they had the skills and experience to bring a fresh approach to the training and development world.

Evolving Edge specialises in management and development training for senior leaders within large businesses. Caroline and Sarah deliver training programmes over a 6-month period, focusing on areas including psychometric testing and working with managers to help them develop the right mind-set to achieve their goals.

Since launching in December 2015, the duo has also delivered a number of programmes nationally and internationally for both businesses and schools. Eventually their aim is to take on more staff to carry out the training too.

Support delivered

The firm has been supported by Boost Business Lancashire’s Growth Mentoring programme, which provides support to SME business owners in areas such as business planning, finance, sales, marketing and HR.

Boost is the name for the Lancashire Business Growth Hub. It is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council and supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Growth Mentoring is a fully funded programme delivered by Community and Business Partners and Orvia. The overall aim is to accelerate the growth of SMEs to stimulate new investment and job creation by identifying and removing the barriers to their growth.

Caroline said: “Our aim is to work with big businesses where we can really make a difference and shape its culture. Sarah and I are both enjoying what we have created and our first year has been better than we could have imagined.

“We are both very passionate about what we do and the training we deliver, but we knew we needed some support to make sure we were focusing on the right things.

“We met with Boost mentor Paul Aisthorpe over a three-month period and, with his support, created a business plan outlining both short-term and long-term goals in relation to turnover, marketing, geographical coverage, business growth and development of our product offer.

“Paul’s experience and personal network meant he could offer insight into areas we hadn’t considered and his mentoring experience meant that he challenged our existing beliefs and thought processes without providing us with the answers.

“The support we received has helped us to recognise where our time should be focused for maximum effectiveness, from marketing activity to pitching to clients, to implementing a new CRM system.

“Since setting up the business our client base has risen dramatically and we have even delivered work internationally.

“Having a dedicated business mentor really helped us to develop and implement an ambitious growth plan that should establish us as one of the market leaders in training design and delivery, helping both locally based and international schools and businesses to perform at their best.”

Jaydee Davis, operations manager at Community and Business Partners, said: “Caroline and Sarah have a wealth of experience in this field but needed business support to complement their skills. They have already worked with a number of leading organisations in their first year of trading and the mentoring support will enable them to continue to develop and grow their business.”

About Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub

Boost Business Lancashire has received £3.8m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding

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