Inspiring Enterprise Business Advisor Julie Stevenson looks back at her time working on the project

The Inspiring Enterprise for me was a great challenge. At the beginning, it involved doing a lot of networking to promote the project and make myself known to potential stakeholders. In addition to familiarising myself with the paperwork requirements. After what felt like a slow start, the referrals from Job Centres started to come in and then it was a little like the buckets of water scene from the animated film Phantasia! Once the job centres realised the scope of support we were offering their clients, they signposted many individuals to the scheme. There wasn’t anything else as comprehensive and it was exciting to be able to offer something so unique.

The thing I enjoyed the most was helping people to realise that they are capable of running their own business and that it is not as complicated as they believe. Once you allay their fears, you visibly see their confidence grow and a change in their attitude. Their motivation to move forward accelerates and from being in a place where they feel stuck, they then push ahead with enthusiasm. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the smiles and sharing the excitement when a client tells you they’ve got their first client/sale. The complete transformation from when you first meet potential participants to when they launch their venture gives you such a buzz.

The diversity of clients I’ve been able to help has given me much pleasure, as they come from all different backgrounds, some in extreme circumstances; including people who have fled from the war in Ukraine. Equally people on very low incomes have struggled to get back into work due to circumstances beyond their control. It’s humbling to see clients with barriers to employment face their fears or tackle their challenges in order to gain independence from the benefits system.

I always feel compelled to support my clients, not just with advice, but by buying their products or services once they are established. This includes doing pottery courses, paddleboarding, getting my hair and nails done, buying swimsuits, cakes, cashew nut snacks, chocolates and books. I even had a new kitchen fitted! It really makes my day when, out of the blue I get an email from a former client to tell me that they’re still self-employed and loving it, with the words “it’s the best thing I ever did”.

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