Launchpad provides lift off for more than 5,000 entrepreneurs

Anna Smith, Programme Manager (Barnsley), and Launchpad business advisers: Fiona Humpage (Bassetlaw), Julia Millea, Ian McDool (Rotherham), and Ian Eccles (Princes Trust, Sheffield City-Region Wide)

A unique support programme which sought to inspire and equip the Sheffield City Region’s next generation of entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills and expertise to succeed in business ventures has supported more than 5,000 aspiring entrepreneurs and new businesses since it began in April 2016.

Such has been the success of the ERDF funded Sheffield City Region Launchpad programme that the unique initiative has secured additional funding, enabling aspiring entrepreneurs based in the Sheffield City Region to continue accessing advice until at least 2022.

Launchpad was developed to help would-be entrepreneurs gain an understanding of what’s involved with running a business, offering individuals keen to find out more about self-employment with the opportunity to work with an experienced business advisor, take part in a wide range of business workshops as well as collaborating with existing business owners through the Launchpad mentoring programme.

The first phase of Launchpad programme also provided practical support to new business owners, helping to guide them through the all-important first two years of trading and such has been the success of the programme that additional ERDF funding has been secured to extend the programme for a further three years, enabling would be entrepreneurs to get to grips with many of the core skills needed to succeed in business including finance, marketing and business planning.

Research by the Sheffield City Region revealed that historically, the numbers of new business start-ups in the region was significantly lower than the national average and the Launchpad programme devised to not only inspire and encourage individuals to explore self-employment, but crucially to equip them with the vital skills needed to succeed during the all-important first two years of trading. Since it began in April 2016, the Launchpad programme has delivered more than 45,000 hours of tailored training to aspiring entrepreneurs and new businesses and over 1.500 new businesses have been created in that time.

Anna Smith, Programme manager, Sheffield City Region Launchpad said:

“Launchpad is all about helping individuals to succeed in business. It’s a well-known fact that most start-ups fail within their first 18 months of trading. We wanted to give new entrepreneurs the best possible start in business by equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to formulate and develop their own business ideas, but crucially to continue to lend support and advice when needed during those all-important first few years of trading.

“The success of the Launchpad programme to date has proved the Sheffield City Region is awash with entrepreneurial talent. Small businesses make a major contribution to the local economy. Some of the businesses we have worked with are enjoying a great of deal of success and going on to expand their operations, recruit staff and help others to develop careers which would otherwise not be possible.

“Many of the new businesses created through the Launchpad programme have been driven by individuals keen to make their own mark on the world. In some cases this meant transforming hobbies and passions into pounds, whilst for others, their work offers something genuinely new and ground-breaking products and services which are transforming many of our everyday lives.

“I have been proud of everything Launchpad has achieved over the past three years and as a result of the additional funds we have secured, many more aspiring entrepreneurs will be able to access the support and assistance they need to transform ideas into successful businesses.”

As a result of the programme extension, Launchpad will continue to offer support to individuals based throughout the Sheffield City Region who are interested in starting their own business, as well as enabling business owners which have been trading for less than three years.

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