On 5th February the Liverpool Business & IP Centre (BIPC) is celebrating the fifth anniversary of Councillor Gary Millar becoming its Entrepreneur in Residence. In this time, he and his team of volunteer specialist mentors have advised over 1,600 individuals starting or growing a business. Every week at Liverpool Central Library they have provided free, impartial, non-judgemental, practical and inspirational guidance. It’s been a remarkable commitment from a man as busy as Gary always is. He is a firm believer, though, in the need to “pay it forward” and let others benefit from his knowledge and understanding of start-ups.
Gary Millar is Deputy Mayor of Liverpool & Mayoral Lead For Business & International Relations. He was Lord Mayor of Liverpool for the Municipal Year 2013/2014. After growing his own IT and marketing businesses, he is now co-owner of Parr Street Studios (hotel, recording studios, bars and offices).
When Liverpool’s BIPC was about to launch in January 2015, Gary recognised the need for it to offer the support and mentoring crucial to improving the chances of survival for new businesses. He offered to become the Entrepreneur in Residence for the Centre and immediately began assembling a team of expert mentors to work with him. That team has now grown so that there are around ten mentors who regularly come in to the library and another twenty who Gary can call upon to assist the business founders he meets.
When he launched his weekly business clinic Gary explained, “I have a passion for business and a unique understanding of what entrepreneurs and businesses can go through. My role is to listen, inspire, motivate and steer people to hopefully the right kind of support.”
Five years later and over 1,600 people have benefitted from the guidance of Gary and his team. Feedback from attendees has been overwhelmingly full of praise. The project’s recently released end-of-year report for 2019 shows that 96 per cent of those who have taken advantage of the free sessions have come away happy and inspired.
Gary Millar’s ability to guide people to the ongoing support needed to launch and grow a business is another key part of the success of his advice drop-in. Research has continually shown that businesses who receive ongoing mentoring and support are much more likely to survive in their early years of trading than those which do not receive such support.
The success of the Liverpool BIPC advice sessions has led to Gary Millar being approached by several others organisations wanting to learn from him about best practice and how to deliver similar services elsewhere.
Cllr Millar said: “It’s been a great year for business in Liverpool and we have been excited to see so many bright, enthusiastic entrepreneurs coming to see us at the library’s Business and Intellectual Property Centre, the BIPC, in search of the boost they may need to get their business grow and under way. Interestingly they don’t just come from Liverpool but as far afield as Yorkshire and Wales! Thank you to them all for taking that bold step in reaching out for help.”
Entrepreneur in Residence drop-in advice session with Cllr Gary Millar and team – every Thursday from 1pm to 4pm, Liverpool Business & IP Centre (BIPC)