Sometimes the best business ideas are borne out of tragedy.
When Suzi Smith’s mother Irene passed away, a few months short of her 90th birthday, Suzi did the flower arrangements for the funeral.
“There wasn’t enough in the insurance policy to cover the flowers, so I did them myself,” she said. “People said how lovely they were. That’s when I thought, ‘Why don’t I become a florist?”.
Suzi had been looking for a change of career. The idea gave her the impetus to take the plunge to become self-employed. Although based in Rutland, she knew Cumbria, having previously lived in Cockermouth.
Her shop, The Enchanted Florist, opened in Maryport last May. She specialises in bespoke flowers for weddings, funerals, celebrations and special occasions. Husband Tim helps out, running deliveries.
She said: “We are in the old News & Star office in Senhouse Street, which we could afford to buy outright.
“So there’s no mortgage, we’re below the small business rate relief threshold and we live in accommodation upstairs.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do all that in Rutland. It means we can plough all our capital in growing the business. Maryport is also a fabulous place to live, with the sea one side and the Lake District on the other.”
Suzi was canny in maximising the support available through Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s Growth Hub service.
She went on the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme, a Department for Work and Pensions initiative, which provides financial support to help unemployed people become self-employed, and she received advice under the Business Start-Up Support (BSUS) programme.
She was full of praise in her Growth Hub adviser, Kate Armstrong.
Suzi said: “Kate believed in me and my crazy ideas, and she added a touch of reality and helped a lot with market research.
She was also able to secure a £10,000 grant from Allerdale Borough Council.
“The grant was so generous – I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “It enabled us to buy a Floracool cabinet, which keeps the flowers fresh, and to bring water downstairs, which had to do.”
The business has just marked its first anniversary and is at the point when Suzi is contemplating taking on her first employee.
She added: “Business is increasing, and I’ve just completed a City and Guilds qualification in floristry at Newton Rigg. I’m pleased with how it’s going.”
If you are thinking of starting your own business or social enterprise, then Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and our partners are here to help with a free business start-up programme to point you in the right direction.
Our comprehensive package of support includes:
- Free meetings with a business adviser to review and develop your business idea;
- Free training covering business planning and self employment, an introduction to marketing/market research and sales forecasts, promotion and sales, an introduction to planning and managing finance, taxation and bookkeeping, using the internet and social media;
- Free help to develop your business plan and get your business up and running;
- Free membership of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.
The £1.7m Business Start-up Support (BSUS) project is creating almost 700 new businesses and nearly 1,200 jobs. It is also supporting around 250 young businesses and generating more than £92m GVA.
For more information, call us today on 0845 226 0040 or click here to visit the Cumbria Business Growth Hub web site.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP.
The BSUS project is receiving up to £1,112,686 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.
Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information, click here.