This week The Women’s Organisation opened the doors of 54 St. James Street to local men and women who were thinking of starting a business, to celebrate the launch of the new Enterprise Hub programme for Liverpool City Region.  The Enterprise Hub Start-up conference run in partnership between The Women’s Organisation and Startup Direct gave attendees opportunity to hear from business owners who have recently been through the process of starting a business themselves, and chance to reflect on the practicalities of self-employment. 

The conference starting with 20 minutes to network and get to know each other, with conference host Jo Austin encouraging the attendees “the first thing to learn is business is to take every opportunity to promote who you are and what you do”. One guest said “it’s great to be able to network so easily”. 

Nick Bell from event sponsors Startup Direct, told us about Startup Direct’s loan scheme for businesses. Startup Direct is a delivery partner of the Governments Start Up Loans Scheme that provides up to £25,000 in start-up funding for entrepreneurs wanting to start a business. Nick gave some great examples of how Startup loans can be used to finance big or small start up projects, and are a great option for those who may have struggled in the past to access finance through more traditional routes. 

Next we heard from Tom Rogers who left his secure teaching role-as a history teacher, to set up his own business, in his words, in the pursuit of “freedom”. Tom set up Rogers History, a business which uses the internet to tutor teachers and students. Tom gave an interesting, animated speech sharing the realities of needing to adapt his business idea to suit the market place and preparing to build it slowly and methodicly. 

Nick Bell from Startup Direct pictured with Tom Rogers

Following a quick break to stretch our legs and grab another pastry we heard from another business owner, Jenn Appleton. Jenn is the owner and an instructor at Kumon Woolton, which is part of a franchise that provides study programmes for maths and English, in order to build children’s confidence and inspire a passion for learning. Jenn went on to tell us how life changing experiences forced her to take action and remember how life’s too short so she must seize the opportunity to do something she loves. Jenn received support from The Women’s Organisation to start her business earlier this year and raved saying it is the best thing she has ever done. A guest said that it was good “hearing the experiences of other business start ups”.

Jenn Appleton from Kumon Woolton
Once Jenn’s inspiring talk had concluded, all the guests introduced themselves to the group, showing bravery, which is needed to be self-employed. There was a range of different backgrounds, but there was an underlying theme of an education background showing through, perhaps highlighting the stress that the teaching industry is under at present and the urge many teachers feel to look for a change in career.

Those attending were led in a dicussion by Jo Austin from The Women’s Organisation to think about the pros and cons of being self-employed. Some examples of cons were that you need to be self-disciplined and flexible. However on the other side of the argument there were ideas mentioned such as having higher aspiration and more freedom to experiment with ideas. There were positives thoughts on the pros and cons exercise with one attendee saying “it was a good exercise to make more aware of what you’re buying into”.

The conference received great feedback with attendees saying “it was very informative”, “inspiring” and “useful for someone looking for a starting point”. Many of the attendees are going to continue to pursue their dream of owning their own successful business with support from the Enterprise Hub programme following the event.

If you have an idea for a business then contact Enterprise Hub to find out about the free advice and support available to men and women in the Liverpool City Region on 0151 706 8113 or

We’d like to say a massive thank you to Nick and Startup Direct for sponsoring the event and helping to make it possible.