The Kent Foundation Business Awards Evening Reception is the perfect opportunity for all involved with The Kent Foundation to look back over the last year (2019) and celebrate the achievements that have been made by the businesses we supported, as well as recognise and thank the contribution our business mentors make. It’s also a great opportunity to meet up with everyone involved in The Kent Foundation, from new start-up businesses to experienced business mentors whilst enjoying a glass of wine.
Nominations are open for following categories:
The Spirit of The Kent Foundation – Recognising the contribution of a Volunteer Business Mentor.
Kent Foundation Start up of the Year – For the achievement of a Young Person in Business (Mentee).
The BIG Impact Award – Someone who has gone over and above (Young Person in Business or Volunteer) to support the wider work of the Kent Foundation, or contribution to growing the economy of Kent.
To make a nomination please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your nominee’s name, which award you would like to put them forward for, and a brief statement of why you believe they should be awarded it, in no more than 100 words.
All nominations must be received by Friday 20th December 2019.
I started working on the business in January 2019 when a family member passed the domain name constructiontrader.com onto me. Since then, I was focused on launching it as quickly as possible. I put countless hours into building the website – all self taught! – to make it look right, and be as simple as possible for users to navigate.
Construction Trader officially launched and started trading in August 2019, on my 18th Birthday! It is an online marketplace for buying and selling machinery, from diggers to dumper trucks, and anything else related to the construction industry. It is different from other marketplaces because it currently offers free listing for sellers and the cost of running the site is through paid advertising.
This has been a huge task to take an idea to a live business in just 8 months and one of my proudest moments would either be making my first sale on Construction Trader, or exhibiting the business at Kent Construction Expo 2019. The Expo was a great experience for myself – it was a packed event at The County ShowGround, Detling, meeting people from the construction industry as well as an exciting opportunity to promote my business to the public and really raise awareness of Construction Trader. It was a big step for us and a great opportunity.
I think the biggest challenge for me at this stage of the business was learning to build a website from scratch. I made sure I had the right people around me that offered support and they also connected me with others who gave me some great advice as well. However, it was a lot to learn in a very short period.
I would say my business mentoring from The Kent Foundation has helped me massively too. I have met with one mentor who has given me invaluable advice on the banking and financial elements of the business, and another who has spent a lot of time with me looking for great ideas to boost my audience and build good relationships with clients. The list goes on with the support that they have offered me. I can’t thank The Kent Foundation staff enough too as they have also been like a mentor to me giving me advice and a shoulder to lean on whenever I’ve had issues.
My plans for the future is to become the number one place to buy and sell construction machinery, to be in a good financial position, and to constantly work towards giving our customers a great service. I would also look to employ staff in the future to support the business development when we take it to the next level.
My tips would be to work hard and the results will come, and when times are hard, don’t give up, and get some support.
On the 2nd of October we hosted a networking event in collaboration with Sun Pier House, Chatham, to raise awareness of The Kent Foundation in Medway. Young entrepreneurs Dayzee Potter (Dream Academy PA and Moondance Bar) and Anthony Bliss (Brave Little Tank) gave inspirational talks about the highs and lows of running a business and how the support of their mentors has helped them to succeed.
This was followed by a Q&A session as well as a brief introduction to the support offered from Medway Council and the benefits of co-working from Roland at Dragon Co-working. We had a great turnout from across the business community and five new sign-ups to The Kent Foundation on the night! Watch this space for similar events near you.
I started Pro Spray UPVC 2 years ago, during a very tough period as an entrepreneur. I was already founding Director of what had been, up till that point, a successful commercial painting and decorating contractor business. We specialised in spray finishing, so had a far better quality of finish than many competitors and could complete works faster. I had 18 members of staff including sub-contractors, and was working on some fantastic projects in very prestigious locations. The business had grown faster than I’d ever imagined, and as a young and somewhat naive business person, I was still running every aspect of the business alone. This included being on site doing the spraying side of things which I have always enjoyed the most. I had been spraying various paints on site for several years, when I heard about a product that could be used on uPVC. I had been writing a blog for a Decorators Forum and reviewing various products and equipment, so thought I’d try it out. It turned out to be rubbish! So, I did some research and tested 8-10 other products and finally found a couple that lived up to the job. Finding there to be a lack of other companies in the South East offering this service I knew this was a niche service, but didn’t really have the time to delve into it. Fast forward a year or so and I was in the middle of a huge contract and the payments from the client had gone from being 30 days late on each instalment, to not coming in at all. By this point I had exhausted all my resources and needed a way to get a short term income to pay my team and feed my family. Pro Spray was then born, completely out of necessity. Unfortunately despite my best efforts, the painting contracting had to come to an end – having lost over £130,000 to the client who had gone bust.
The primary service provided by Pro Spray uPVC (its in the name!) is spraying uPVC doors, windows and conservatories. We are not limited to these, we also spray composite doors, garage doors, cladding and even roof tiles! We use products that have been thoroughly tested. The product bonds with the plastic, meaning it will not flake or peel off due to weathering like normal paints. We also provide a 10 year guarantee for all external work, as extra peace of mind. We are able to match 10’s of thousands of colours in all our products, whether it be for plastic, metal or wood. As this type of work is generally seasonal due to rain and low temperatures, we also offer a variety of other services. At Pro Spray we specialise in spraying MDF and Kitchen cabinets using ultra hardwearing coatings that can withstand everyday use, including heat and steam etc. We are even able to spray melamine and vinyl wrapped kitchen doors, giving an old kitchen the look of a brand new one at a fraction of the price.
Pro Spray has turned out to be somewhat of a natural evolution of my previous business. Although it is scaled down compared to the decorating contractors, the quality of work is of an even higher standard and the enjoyment in it for me personally is much greater. I’ve also managed to get my wife Kay involved in some of the admin work which means I’m able to concentrate more on the things I’m good at. I’m far less stressed regarding time and money, and get to spend quality time with my family. I love the work I do and take immense pride in seeing the results, especially with MDF spraying and Kitchen renovations. Since speaking to the guys at The Kent Foundation, I’ve had a couple of business mentors – both whom have helped in different ways. Gary gave me a massive confidence boost with his enthusiasm of the product and service I provide, whilst Philip takes time to research things and sends me great information on things we have spoken about during our meetups. Philip also mentioned about doing ABLAST! which was the first networking event I’ve attended. Not only was it good to be able to show off what we do to an audience, we also met some other great young entrepreneurs who’s services we will use to aid the growth of Pro Spray. My advice for other young people in business is to keep an open mind. Sometimes the thing you always thought you wanted for your business, can turn out to be something quite different. Be prepared to adapt and change things if it isn’t quite working. Take risks, after all what’s the worst that can happen? It’s only money, and you can always earn more…..right?!
I started Support Local two and a half years ago when my son was six months old. I worked in the legal department of a finance company before having my first child. After he was born, I realised how wonderful life could be and I wasn’t prepared to settle for anything else or go back to a job I didn’t love. I really wanted to give small businesses a platform and I couldn’t see that anyone else was doing this at a price they could afford.
Support Local is all about connecting small businesses with an engaged audience who want to shop small and locally to them. Support local consists of two elements, pop up shopping experiences where the public can buy products or services from stall holders and Support Local Magazine which is a lifestyle magazine aimed at making advertising affordable for small businesses and encouraging the public to shop local.
Support Local magazine has a readership of ten thousand people across Kent and East Sussex and is stocked in independent cafes, shops, restaurants, dental surgeries etc. Advertising should be an affordable option for all businesses no matter their size, which is why our prices for print start at just £60. Our readers are passionate about buying independent and are enthusiastic about the Support Local Brand. This year I got into the finals for two awards, next year I want to win! I am also working towards an ABC accreditation for a regional magazine.
Larger firms are now starting to advertise with me which is amazing. They can afford to advertise anywhere so the fact that they choose me means a lot. I work with Knight Frank Estate Agents, Trinity Theatre, the Assembly Halls in Tunbridge Wells, the University of Kent (where I went to uni!) and my secondary school have also now started advertising as well.
I’ve built my business without any childcare. I don’t have a standard 9-5 day and for the last two and a half years I’ve been working a minimum of 40 hours a week from 4pm-midnight. Cramming a full time job into the evenings and then waking up at 5am and being a parent all day isn’t easy and has definitely been my biggest challenge. I’m really lucky to have found a mentor who I really click with, who makes mentoring fun and holds me accountable to my goals.
My advice for other young people in business is to keep going. I think if you want something enough you’ll achieve it. You’ve just got to be prepared to put a lot of work in to reap the rewards. Also don’t beat yourself up over failure. I read a fantastic book whilst at Uni about one of the dragons from dragons den and he lost everything about three times and was living out of his car before he finally made a go of things. I’ve been on the edge of going under and not giving up, reassessing, and doing whatever it takes to keep going saved my business.
We asked Katie Anderson at Paddlesworth Produce to give us her top tips for anyone starting their own business.
1. Don’t be afraid to fail. As long as you learn something from it, it is not a failure but a lesson! Starting your own business means you have to learn so many new things – accounting, marketing, manufacturing, delivering – the list goes on! So you are bound to make mistakes. It is easy to give up or get down when things don’t go to plan but it has really helped me to write down the lessons I have learnt from each of the many mistakes I have made to ensure that I have actually grown through the process.
2. Start-Up businesses are just trials. When I sat in my kitchen last year and wrote down the idea for my business it did not look anything like what I am doing today. Businesses have to evolve with customer demand and there is no point offering something that people do not want just because you do not want to deviate from your original plan. Recently when I attended an entrepreneur’s course, one thing that really stuck with me was that start-ups should be renamed as “trials” and they should be seen as ways to test the water and check if your business is viable. Don’t invest too much at the start and get caught up trying to work out every individual detail because it is more than likely that things will change so quickly in the first few months that it will have been a waste of your time and money.
3. Network. When I first started my business, “networking” was such a buzzword that I thought it must be a fad I should ignore. In fact it has been one of the best things I have done to improve my business. Even if you are a shy person, there are ways to network online such as LinkedIn and Facebook groups but I would really recommend face to face conversation for the best impact. Most networking meetings I have attended haven’t ended in immediate sales, however they have always been beneficial because they have helped me to gain knowledge, find inspiration, meet contacts and source suppliers. I cannot stress how much networking should be part of your business, even if you just go and moan about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur with other entrepreneurs, it can be a lonely world running your own business don’t isolate yourself! There are tonnes of groups in Kent to join and a quick google search should get the ball rolling.