Cornwall LivingIssue #104

Take back control

In a year of lockdowns, restrictions and adhering to government guidelines, 2020 has certainly been a year like no other, and one we’ll all be glad to see the back of.

Whether through furlough, redundancy or working longer hours to fit around childcare, home-schooling or other family responsibilities, the ever-evolving situation has afforded many of us an opportunity to re-evaluate our careers and work/life balance.

“Outset’s programme was incredibly useful – I’ve learnt so many different elements to running a business” – Jo Hague

Although returning to work or finding a new job has been the route many people have taken, one of the biggest movements witnessed throughout all this has been the growing number of brave individuals willing to take that leap of faith, strike out on their own and start their own business.

Back in November, Outset Cornwall reported receiving over 300 enquiries and referrals, with over 250 people joining the programme in recent months, despite the global pandemic. Kate Perkin, Programme Director at Outset, commented: “The fact we’ve seen so many enquiries and referrals proves the entrepreneurial spirit hasn’t diminished here in Cornwall. We’ve seen a real variety of ideas coming through; from people wanting to repurpose their existing skills and experience to honing their hobbies and passions into sustainable businesses. For them, Outset offers a fantastic opportunity to do all the groundwork first, building solid foundations from which to launch a new business when the time is right.”

But when exactly is that ‘right’ time? Should you wait until the current economic situation changes? Well, if you look at Airbnb, FedEx, WhatsApp, Groupon and Uber, these hugely successful companies were all started during economic recessions. Despite it sounding counter-intuitive, starting a business during an economic slump means it is much more likely to have the tools and resilience to fly when the economy improves. So even though the situation we’re going through will undoubtedly bring permanent changes to how we live, work, shop and do business, there are plenty of opportunities for start-ups willing to adapt and embrace those changes.

Think you simply don’t have the time? Let’s take a look at busy mum and business owner Sophie Tilston, who managed to continue working, take care of and home-school her children, and still find time to launch her own business during lockdown! Now, Sophie runs a successful business from her seaside studio in Falmouth doing something she loves; handmaking, printing and retailing eclectic homeware and fashion accessories. She says: “As a busy mum to three children, I’m used to multi-tasking and getting the most out of every minute. Running a business I love now gives me the freedom to work any time I choose.”

Don’t have the cashflow or funds to get your idea off the ground? Faced with the challenge of raising funds to produce her garments, plus developing her designs and adapting them to suit tall women’s various shapes and sizes, Cassie Davey’s confidence and self-belief was in tatters. But with Outset’s help, she devised a way to achieve her goal. “A few weeks in, I was really struggling to focus and questioning whether I could actually do this,” says Cassie. “But speaking with one of Outset’s brilliant advisors helped me re-focus, challenged my thinking and gave me a much-needed ‘lightbulb’ moment; launch a Crowdfunder campaign.”

Featuring a host of rewards that included one of her exclusive designs, Cassie reached and exceeded her crowdfunding targets, raising enough funds to start production of her pieces, ready for the official launch of her new business, Tall & Beautiful Clothing Ltd, in spring 2021.

Don’t think you have the skills and knowledge you need to get started? It’s true: running a business requires a wide range of skills, and you won’t be good at everything straight away. Getting the right support is crucial so that you don’t feel overwhelmed, as Jo Hague from Lostwithiel discovered when she started her sustainable textile art business during lockdown. She says: “Do a business start-up course so that you’re fully aware of what having your own business entails. Outset’s programme was incredibly useful – I’ve learnt so many different elements to running a business, plus it’s helped me get my full product range online and generate sales, even during lockdown.”

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, HM Government and the Outset Foundation, Outset Cornwall has been helping people start their own businesses since 2009, offering a flexible, award-winning business start-up programme that supports you through every step of your business journey, from developing your first ideas through to planning and launching your business.

Starting your own business or going self-employed can be daunting but having the right support behind you can make it exciting, exhilarating and incredibly rewarding. So what’s stopping you?


Outset Cornwall

01209 311063

"Outset's programme was incredibly useful - I've learnt so many different elements to running a business"