Having worked in housing associations across the North West since age of 19, Bev Heaton’s life was turned around when she faced redundancy and began to rethink her career prospects.

Bev commented: “I’ve always had that creativeness and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have my own business, but I’ve never really known what I would do.

“Even though I’ve always made things what really turned everything around for me is I got made redundant, twice forcing me to do something different.”

On the first occasion Bev had just achieved her Master’s Degree in Marketing and Communications from Edge Hill University so she applied for a job in Liverpool as a Project Support Officer, where she worked for five years.

In her spare time Bev began making clothes, Christmas and birthday cards for her family and friends, which fuelled her passion for getting creative.

Bev added: “I moved onto making some bags up as presents and customising them, and all my friends and colleagues would remark on how lovely they were. I then started doing more, creating paintings and cushion covers around my home and building up my confidence. The girls at work all loved to know what I’d created.

“Up towards the end when I was being made redundant I began to wonder if I could build a business with the customised bags, so I got together some of my products and I came into the Chamber to meet with Steve Mather.

“I explained to him that was looking at my options and he said he thought I could sell my bags and make a business out of it. He told me about some upcoming start-up workshops and I got myself booked on.”

Bev met regularly with her dedicated start-up adviser to build a business plan and attended a series of free start-up workshops, designed to teach her the tools for becoming self-employed.

Bev added: “I think doing the workshops was really good to do at the beginning because I got all the information that I needed. I wouldn’t have had a clue how to set up a business without the support of the Chamber.

“I really enjoyed the marketing workshops as that is where I am most comfortable. When you are looking at the health and safety and financial side it can be daunting, so the course was useful.

“It was also lovely meeting with other start-ups who were in the same situation as you realise that you are not on your own.

“One of the best aspects of the start-up support for me has been the encouragement. Staff have given me more confidence in what I am doing is right and that my products are good.

“I’ve done everything step-by-step and I’ve had the support from the staff at the Chamber to help me through. I wouldn’t have come this far on my own. I know that even when I don’t have a meeting scheduled I can always contact someone.

“Everyone has been lovely, I feel like I am on course and I am doing everything at the right pace. I always ask am I doing everything ok and get told ‘I’m doing brilliantly’, so it’s that support that pushes you on. It’s down to me at the end of the day if I fail or succeed, but I’ve had lovely support and I couldn’t have done this without the Chamber.”

St Helens Chamber is part of Enterprise Hub, the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Merseyside.  Offering expert advice and support to anyone thinking about starting a business including help to:

  • Understand the process of starting a business
  • Research a business idea
  • Build a comprehensive business plan
  • Develop a marketing plan
  • Create financial forecasts to understand the costs of running your  business and potential income
  • Identify sources of finance to get started

Enterprise Hub is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. For more information about the support available from St Helens Chamber to start a business, call 0845 340 9980, email startup@sthelenschamber.com, or visit http://www.sthelenschamber.com/startup