In July 2022, I finished my 12 year teaching career. I had run a small online shop in my spare time for about 2 years prior to leaving my job, using our small outbuilding as a workshop. I had called the shop Ferrero Rodcher (as the main products were handmade Ferro Rods for camping and bushcraft) and I was soon asked to take on commissions making items such as memories boxes, serving trays, chopping boards, hand carved spoons, coat racks and wall-mounted bottle openers from beautiful pieces of hardwood. I began to use pyrography to add an extra element of personalisation to my products and then learnt how to process tax returns and manage the basic running of a micro-business. This was purely a hobby for me at this point. It enabled me to take time away from my laptop and be creative during the half term breaks. The increasing pressure of being a full-time teacher had become very difficult to manage and my work / life balance had become virtually non-existent, so my wife and I decided that I should start my own business.
I began to ‘network’ as much as possible and a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of grant funding that was available through North Kesteven District Council, which is where I discovered the ARG Start-Up grant. He had been successful in his application and spoke very highly of the process and of the people involved in running it.
My application required a business plan and cashflow forecast initially, then I was given a number of additional tasks in order to clarify my business proposition. After submitting around 30 pages of explanations, price breakdowns, additional forecasts, responses to questions and justifications for my decisions, I was told I was successful in my application. The final step was to show that I could acquire a premises in the NKDC area and to prove that I had been accepted for a loan. This proved to be slightly more of a rollercoaster of emotions than I had expected but I was able to provide these two affirmations within a fortnight and my application was given the green light. I found out that I had been successful in March 2022 and the money was in my account within a week.
The ARG Start-Up grant helped to finance some of the machinery and tools that I needed to start a woodworking business. Moving from a small online shop to full time furniture building in an industrial unit required a significant investment so the £5,000 grant was a large proportion of my start-up capital. Being able to access the grant and then use a loan to fund the remaining amount meant that my monthly loan repayments were much less and gave my business a better chance of success.
The grant application process also forced me, in a positive way, to learn a lot about what I needed to know and what I needed to do in the set-up and running of a business. My business plan needed to be thorough, well-researched and well-considered. My cash flow forecast needed to take into account costs that I hadn't thought of and map out the first year of trading in a level of detail that gave me a far better understanding than I had previously had. I needed to consider contingency plans, research and compare machinery specification and prices, plan a timeline for launch and set short, medium and long term goals. This was a huge step for me, leaving a stable income and starting a business, so being made to develop my understanding to such an in-depth level really helped me to understand how I would run my company and feel more confident about it.
Throughout the process, my contacts at NKDC were incredibly supportive and positive. It felt like they genuinely wanted me to be successful and their professionalism and knowledge were invaluable. I am incredibly grateful to the Grants administrator for their expertise and advice, their help was massively appreciated throughout my application.
Cox and Sons Kitchen Islands
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