Business Support

Ian Loftus

What was your background before becoming an adviser and what industry experience do you have?

I was in the corporate world as I suspect most advisers have been, as it’s the experience they bring to SMEs in Cumbria.

My background was in the motor industry, with Renault as a Sales Director and then as a Technical Director where I ran the paint division. During that experience I started to do an IT degree, and then I moved to IT and worked for BT within data services and telephony. I then went to work for an American software company for a while, and then ended up back in the UK working with local government for about 5 years.

I decided to leave the corporate world and we bought restaurants! I then set up a business in Commercial Finance and in 2015 we sold the restaurants. And then in 2015 I set up a Commercial Finance company.

Most of my work now is with SMEs through being an adviser with the Chamber.

Areas of specialism/interest

I’ve got a good grounding in hospitality, and in business development from the corporate world.

Why did you become a business adviser? How long have you been an adviser/self employed?

I’ve been an adviser since about 2016 and have supported about 300 small businesses throughout Cumbria.

What do you most enjoy about the role?

I enjoy solving a problem in one industry, with a solution used in another industry.

What have you learned being an adviser?

What I’ve learned is that actually a lot of these businesses have got similar problems, they might be able to make the most fantastic products, but they don’t necessarily know how to run a business, so a lot of problems I’ve come across are transferable.

What type of businesses have been able to support and what support did you offer?

I’ve supported a range of businesses from farming introducing pods as they diversify, to chocolate manufacturing, to dog grooming. There’s been a lot of start-ups, particularly over Covid.

3 interesting facts about you

  • I’m just about to submit my PHD thesis in November.
  • I train under-18s Penrith girls rugby.
  • I published a business book in 2019, with hope of publishing 2 more narrative non-fiction books by Easter!