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Business idea becomes a reality for group of friends

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Three friends who spotted a gap in the market for a new business have seen their dream become a reality – and they’re planning to create four new jobs in the next 12 months.

Emma Woan, Tracy Gardiner and Linda Taylor, launched the Education Business Partnership (NW) late last year and in recent months they’ve gone from working in Emma’s kitchen to setting up an office in Oswaldtwistle, Accrington.

The friends, who had worked together in various roles over the years, decided to put their experience in work-related learning to use and set up on their own.

At the time Emma was working freelance and Tracy and Linda had both been made redundant.

The Education Business Partnership (NW) works with schools and businesses across Lancashire providing high quality employability and personal development support, specialising in work experience.

The business helps and supports young people to improve their employment prospects, develop essential life skills and be able to self-manage their future. Since launching they have placed 4,000 young people in work places across 3,900 businesses in Lancashire, from one day per week placements to weekly work experience opportunities over an academic year.

The trio has been supported by Boost Business Lancashire’s Growth Support Programme, which helps entrepreneurs launch their new enterprises.

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).

The fully funded programme, delivered by Winning Pitch and Enterprise4all, provides help to develop a personal action plan, Lean Launchpad sessions outlining key principles for developing a new business and one-to-one coaching support for business owners.

Emma said: “The changing landscape in the world of work was what made us think about setting up on our own, we had this idea and we thought if we don’t do it then somebody else will. None of us have ever ran our own business before and really the only professional guidance we had prior to the support from Boost was our accountant.

“Over this past year we’ve often found ourselves absorbed in the passion of starting our own business, but the Growth Support Programme has enabled us to develop a plan to focus on the priorities for growing the business.”

The team has attended a number of master classes available through Boost, including a class focused on helping to develop the businesses growth strategy.

Linda said: “As a team it was very beneficial for us all to be able to attend the master classes giving us time to reflect and bounce ideas off each other.”

Rona McFall, head of entrepreneurial solutions at Winning Pitch, said: “Emma, Tracy and Linda have put their all into creating this business and it’s already proving to be a success and we’re pleased to have been able to support them on this journey and help them put the best strategy in place to achieve their goals.”

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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