Reflecting on Outset Cornwall’s first 18 months

“Eighteen months after the start of the programme, with over 80 new businesses launched (some already employing additional people), an impressive pipeline of potential new entrepreneurs working towards launching their new enterprise and targets for the entire three-year programme already exceeded, Outset Cornwall has carved out a very well respected place within the Cornish business support landscape. Our success in Cornwall has paved the way for our sister programmes Outset Plymouth, Outset Torbay, Outset Bristol, Outset Herts, Outset Norfolk and Outset Finance (specialised financial training for small businesses in Plymouth and Bristol).

Outset Cornwall delivers accessible, jargon-free, pre-start-up workshops, mentoring and training, and also monthly networking events and aftercare for new businesses during their first 12 months; and all for free. Outset Cornwall really has captured the hearts and minds of Cornwall.

Outset removes barriers to success by ensuring some of the simplest values are adhered to; accessibility, honesty, safety and confidentiality. Supportive peer groups enable and encourage discussion and exploration of topics in a way that other programmes simply do not. This not only develops understanding of important aspects of business start-up, but also gives each person a voice in the room, allowing them to share their life experiences and support peers.

We’ve been fortunate to receive funding to extend our provision and offer women-only support, with our very own Enterprising Women representative. This brings to Outset Cornwall the community’s extensive expertise and, best of all, our women clients get a head start with one year’s free membership to the community when they launch their business. I’m confident this will motivate and incentivise clients to take the knowledge they’ve acquired through Outset and start their businesses off on a strong footing.

May saw us exhibiting at the Royal Cornwall Show, where we were inundated with interest from potential entrepreneurs who lacked one or more key skills to be able to move their idea forward. Some had recently experienced redundancy, had been unemployed for a long period of time, were returning to work after having a baby, or had a disability and were no longer able to hold down a mainstream job. But they all shared one thing – the draw to a programme that could help them to realise a dream, delivered locally to them, in language they could understand, with like-minded people, with no cost attached.

The Outset Cornwall team are optimistic about the remaining 18 months of the current programme, and very much hope to welcome renewed funding to support the creation of many more new Cornish SMEs through to 2015.”