Chesterfield businesses are stronger together
Despite the return to lockdown, Chesterfield businesses are now looking ahead to a spring recovery following the roll out of the Oxford vaccine.
Whether your focus is survival or growth, there is plenty you can be doing to prepare for the future. Every decision you make now could impact your business’ ability to thrive post pandemic.
But you’re not alone in your preparations. Chesterfield businesses are keen to collaborate and have shared their stories to inspire further success across the town.
Are you working closely with local organisations?
Ossies’s Fresh Ginger was grateful of complimentary support from Chesterfield Borough Council’s business advisor, Adrian Williamson. Owner, Ossie Bash Taqi said: “As a fledgling enterprise we needed advice and guidance in developing the business particularly in Covid times. Adrian has been invaluable in advising on procedural measures and in setting both long and short term targets and guiding us in the development of a business plan all extremely useful to a relaunching business.”
“Adrian provided us with contacts and links to a variety of appropriate organisations which we will be able to use for continued support and specialist guidance such as the Food and Drink Forum and Feast 2, as well as giving us options on potential funding streams as the business is unexpectedly expanding.”
SDE Group has saved money by trading locally with Mad Designs Ltd. Charlotte Watson, 3D Designer at SDE Group said: “They have assisted in huge cost savings in producing good quality loading signs for our clients. We receive advice in the most cost efficient and best quality way in producing our signs to provide 100% customer satisfaction to all our clients – therefore increasing our sales.”
“We are always looking for more local businesses to collaborate with, aid the local community and welcome any person / company to talk through more opportunities.”
The team at Mitchells Chartered Accountants has been recommended by Nine Limes Design for being so helpful despite the web design agency not being a client and offering advice free of charge. Steve Bassett, Director of Nine Limes Design said: “Mitchells Chartered Accountants made us aware of the availability of discretionary grants to local businesses in the Chesterfield area which were not eligible to receive funding from other areas. Andrew provided invaluable support and advice in our successful application and I am extremely grateful for this.”
How can you support your team?
With so much change over the past year, it’s likely you will have identified a need to invest in training to drive things forward.
Laura Chapman HR Manager at Peak Pipe Systems commented: “Investing in our people is a priority but we have to keep an eye on our budgets. A number of talented staff across our shop floor, offices and warehouse had been promoted to team leaders, but had not received managerial training. Skills Support for the Workforce enabled us to support them in their roles.”
Chesterfield businesses have been benefiting from free online workshops. A new programme has been announced this month by D2N2 Growth Hub with courses ranging from email marketing to employee empowerment. And 12 week digital skills courses opened in December for both employees and job seekers with local training provider GBS offering courses in Digital Marketing, Content Creation and IT.
There’s support on hand to help your senior team establish goals for the year ahead with a free webinar from Business Doctors Chesterfield.
And six businesses can access twelve months of complimentary coaching from ActionCOACH, with applications due by 29th January.
Is it time to recruit?
Whilst some redundancies may be unavoidable, the Government’s furlough scheme has helped millions of people to stay in employment. And you may be thinking about growing your team to hit the ground running ahead of recovery.
Local recruiters that are working with Destination Chesterfield to grow the town’s economy have been pleased to assist during the pandemic.
If you’re looking to recruit an apprentice like Chesterfield businesses Addooco, Inspire Design and Development and UKATA, the upcoming Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Employability and Skills Conference will provide a helpful platform to find out more. The Chesterfield Apprentice Town website is also very informative.
Community Chesterfield, which supports the voluntary sector, has benefitted from the free recruitment of two interns through the University of Derby including graduate, Hayley Beaumont.
Charlotte Repton, Project Manager of Community Chesterfield said: “Using Hayley’s design skills and expertise, Community Chesterfield was able to offer branding services free of charge to voluntary organisations, which included refreshing logos and designing web pages, delivering over £1000 worth of services during her short internship”.
And Chesterfield businesses have been supported to offer virtual work experience to young people. For more details check out this information session on 27th January.
Can you afford not to update your IT?
It requires careful planning to maintain adequate cash flow. But prioritising innovation will be key to unlocking post crisis growth. And there is financial support available to help you achieve this.
The Government Grant and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the speedy response of Chesterfield Borough Council were cited as key factors in the recent growth of Chesterfield recruiter, Edwards Employment Solutions.
Izabella Edwards, Managing Director explained: “Thanks to funding I was able to invest in a CRM system which allows the business to manage candidates and clients more easily, saving time and money. Having this system in place meant I had the resources and infrastructure to pitch for and secure a number of large contracts. It meant a complete turn-around for us and led to the business making four new appointments and needing larger offices.
Matt Corbishley, Director of People and Performance, Ashgate Hospicecare said: “We enlisted the services of CT to help us ensure technology provided the foundations we need to support our charitable objectives and long term future goals. The team have worked closely with our IT Manager, leadership team and board of trustees to develop a technology roadmap that met these long term charitable and business objectives.”
How can you raise your profile?
Whether your business is busy or temporarily closed, it’s always a good idea to remind current and future customers that you are here and to maintain a positive image of yourself in your customer’s mind, ready for when they are looking to access you.
Some of the companies that have been learning how to gain free coverage within the local media include Liza Bakes, StraightCurves and A&A Photography. Destination Chesterfield’s PR free workshops run twice a year and the first 2021 date will be announced shortly.
And there are currently 190 local organisations – known as Chesterfield Champions – working with Destination Chesterfield to raise the profile of the town and its successful businesses.
It has been a popular time to invest in improvements to the online customer experience. Love Brewing has made its website more user friendly and added more product lines. Cheese Factor has traded online for the first time by adding Shopify to its existing website. Rosewood Wealth is taking appointments through Shop Appy.
And businesses have been thinking creatively when it comes to live experiences. Bridal boutique, Precious Memories brought her brand to life outdoors in St James Square at Vicar Lane Shopping Centre, also utilising the new big screen where a number of independent retailers have been promoted.
Claire from Stephenson’s Tea & Coffee House was grateful of free promotion in Twist magazine, which responded to the pandemic by setting up a loyalty card scheme for readers. Claire said: “We’ve been shown cards by people coming in, entitling them to receive a free hot drink with their breakfasts. I regularly received comments from people who say they have seen our offer mentioned in Twist.”
A safe space to work?
During lockdown many small and start-up businesses have found themselves sharing their home office workspace with partners, who have suddenly found themselves working from home, as well as with children who are self-isolating.
Working at local cafes such as Stephensons Tea and Coffee House has provided quiet and productive space to work, and will be appreciated again once venues can reopen. And Chesterfield’s meeting spaces have strengthened hygiene policies to provide a safe space to meet ready for reopening (although please do check with each individual venue as the end of lockdown approaches).
If you’re looking for new premises in the near future, the team at Chesterfield Borough Council can carry out a free property search for your business. One option is the Chesterfield Enterprise Centre, which is due to be completed in spring 2021.
Local charity, Junction Arts, which works with people to improve well-being and inspire change through the arts, recently moved into West Studios to take advantage of the benefits the space offers. Jemma Burton from the team at Junction Arts said:
“It is really nice to be in the office at West Studios. The studio space works really well for us on a practical level and moving gave us a better deal because of everything that was included as part of the tenancy: utilities, internet, security, cleaning, and parking are all part of the package. The money we have saved on our running costs will go directly into projects which will benefit communities. Not only that, it has a nice feel to it from a social and networking point of view. There is a welcoming atmosphere. We are meeting different tenants and making connections with artists and different businesses. It is a great place to raise your profile.”
West Studios has also launched a virtual office space to support small and start-up businesses in Chesterfield to develop and be part of a bigger network of creative industries.
Time to become more sustainable?
Tackling the effects of climate change is a key priority for Chesterfield Borough Council, having declared a climate emergency. And East Midlands Chamber has launched its Sustainable East Midlands campaign to help businesses engage with the sustainability agenda.
Although some businesses may be reluctant to the required changes coming from new regulations, becoming greener also brings opportunities to reduce costs, for securing new business and for innovation.
At the end of 2020, Chesterfield based Custom Solar created energy savings for local company, Xbite, equivalent to supplying eight average UK homes with electricity for one year. Xbite was awarded a maximum value £20,000 low-carbon energy grant to help install over 270 solar panels at its HQ offices at Barlborough and warehouse at Markham Vale.
Nick Whitehead, managing director at Xbite, said: “The DE-Carbonise Team took all the hassle away from applying for the grant and were great to work with. Solar panels will help us reduce our CO2 emissions by 20,731kg per year, and generate 74,760 kWh per year of electricity, some of which we will be able to sell back to the National Grid.”
The DE-Carbonise project launched in November 2019 and is a 3-year extension to the previously successful and award-winning D2EE project, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Grants of up to £20,000 are available for businesses looking to improve their environmental practices. Over 500 businesses in Derby and Derbyshire have been supported to date.
Let’s work together
It’s likely your business has already engaged with other local organisations – either before or during the pandemic. The town is well-known for collaborative working and Destination Chesterfield is pleased to link together with partners to support growth and development.
We’d love to say hello.
If you would like to access marketing and other local opportunities, training, peer networks or a free business adviser with bespoke advice for your needs, please contact Tara Underhill for more information: 07392868746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.