A Blast! creates a real buzz about business start-up in Kent

On Tuesday 10th June Kent Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs in partnership with The Enterprise Foundation hosted a whole day of business support activities in Maidstone under the working title ‘A Blast!’.

Wilkins Kennedy

The sequence of events kicked off with the Maidstone Business Breakfast, followed by two business start-up workshops all topped off with a large business networking evening to celebrate business in Kent.

The Breakfast was kicked off by guest speaker Paul Nixon, Wilkins Kennedy who told the audience:

“The most enjoyable clients I work with have to be business start-ups. I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing a seemingly small idea transformed in to something much bigger. Being a part of that process on the way is highly rewarding.”

More than 30 people who were looking at creating their own employment through starting a business attended workshops. A range of people attended from the unemployed right through to students from Mid Kent College who were considering their career options after their studies.

Amy McManus AM Marketing

To conclude the day young entrepreneurs, business start ups, established businesses and professionals from all across Kent joined a celebration of business at A Blast! The room was a real hive of activity with 10 young entrepreneurs exhibiting and three of them being interviewed on stage. Gemma Blacker – This Art of Mine kindly took charge of the stage to interview Amy McManus (below) and Lucy Hall of Kent Social Media.

Young entrepreneur, Amy McManus of AM Marketing expressed her gratitude on Facebook saying:

“What a great evening with some fantastic Kent businesses exhibiting! A fabulous event with the gang from Kent Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs. Some great businesses and people showing off their products and services!”

Philip Gearing of Foster Gearing the guest speaker for the evening spoke about his journey in business and how the support from Kent Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs back in 1990 spurred him on to never give up.

Philip Gearing Guest Speaker “It all started off at a small market one day where my business partner and I had sold next to nothing. But we learnt something special that day; never to be beaten. To always get back up again, never say no, try again and you will succeed”

Philip who is the man behind the WW1 memorial arch being opened by Prince Harry in Folkestone on 4thAugust this year went on to say:

 “Don’t be scared. I don’t think anyone is ever completely ready, so the moment to do it is now. If you don’t ask you don’t get. I remember calling up my first potential large client with a proposal to rebrand their business and what did they say – YES” 

None of these events would have been possible without the funding and support from Community First, Golding Homes, Wilkins Kennedy, Let’s Do Business Group, Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council.

 A picture says a thousand words…Click here to watch the event unfold in pictures thanks to Photographer Tom Phillips. 

Check out the young entrepreneurs that exhibited:

All of our services are provided free of charge to Kent’s young entrepreneurs, so if you would like to support our work please donate through Charity Choice.

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Harbourne Associates – Star Business of the Month – May 2014

My name is Chris Stephens, Director of Harbourne Associates which I started in March 2013 set up from a bedroom in my parents’ house. I’m a 28 year old, innovative, passionate individual with a drive to change the perception and Harbourne Associates Logomethodologies used in the current recruitment marketplace. I felt that not enough was being done to really dig deep and source top talent for corporates in the UK. Many opportunities were being missed by market leading clients due to pushy salespeople looking to earn commission and not provide a value adding service that employers are really looking for.

I had been in recruitment for 8 years and before that in various sales positions but always had a vision of a customer service driven approach built on delivering business growth for my clients. I had to persuade my parents to support me and invest some start-up money but thanks to this I am now running a business of seven people and working out of an office in Tunbridge Wells. The business is currently on track to turnover sales of £1m in 2016.

Recruitment dates back to the early 1900s. There was no Internet, Facebook or Jobsites. It was about learning your clients’ culture, environment and requirements thoroughly and spending time learning about competitors, neighbours and forward thinking businesses then networking intensely to track down top performers. Over time this entire concept has been lost and agencies feel it is OK to charge a huge sum of money for a very straightforward search on an internet job board – Monster or similar.

Chris Stephens - Harbourne Associates

Today’s world introduces so many more candidate attraction methods and Harbourne Associates utilises them in order to find, contact and manage key professionals. By working hard and being thorough, I am developing a new age service using an up to date, tailored approach in order to provide a “stand out” service.

Harbourne Associates is developing into a well-known specialist Recruitment Consultancy focusing its attention on the Sales, Marketing and Management sectors. We work with a large number of key industries including retail development, premium brands, food service, high-end fashion, hair and beauty, drinks and a developing area in industrial, manufacturing, construction and engineering markets. We have a highly experienced Executive Search Team that work across a wide range of industries within a developing client base. (Senior Appointments into the corporate marketplace).The team based in Tunbridge Wells is quickly developing and the company is growing month by month. Proven testimonials from Blue-chip clients back up the service we provide and how we can truly stand out from many leading agencies.

One of our clients described us as a:

“Unique, contemporary recruitment boutique, with a forward thinking approach to business, they use proven historical methods to source and deliver on key roles and provide a service that has substance.”

My approach with the support of a hardworking team includes a mix of headhunting, networking, attending exhibitions and events whilst spending the time to learn markets, mapping companies and use advanced recruitment databases; many key options that really do give us a competitive edge in today’s marketplace. I sincerely believe that Harbourne Associates’ success will only come from helping our clients to grow their business by sourcing the best candidates and matching them to their ideal job.

To date we have shown extremely high levels of success and conversion ratios that outmatch much of the recruitment market, not to mention staff retention figures once placed, apparent throughout many of our blue chip client base.

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