Retirement is just around the corner for me and although I’ve always worked for someone else, carving a career from my passion for education and the opportunities it offers, I’ve met some amazing students whose drive and ambition was to be their own boss and turn their own passions into a business. I believe that offering opportunities for people to develop their entrepreneurial skills and giving them the tools to make it happen will help our local economy thrive. There are many initiatives out there designed to encourage new businesses and create new jobs. We need to shout louder about the help and support people can have to get their own business off the ground or grow the ones they have already established. From the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy courses running at college to the incubation units designed to give creative businesses a place to develop at West Studios – from apprenticeships that allow people to learn the ropes in a business environment to the higher education courses that take your knowledge to the next level, college is just one of the places to start if being your own boss is high on your wish list. The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy is helping students like Jake Hallas to turn their passion for classic cars into a business. He splits the week between restoring and selling cars and studying to get the skills they need to grow the business and make a nice profit. Since West Studios it opened its doors in 2014, artists, silversmiths, sculptors, knitwear designers, graphic designers and more have all taken advantage of the facility as a creative space and place to grow their businesses. I’ve recently heard about a mother and son team who are growing an award-winning coffee shop business in the town and say that apprenticeships are a key part of their successful strategy. Sam Ward started his career as an apprentice at Stephensons and is now supporting others through their apprenticeships. The next step for him is a higher level apprenticeship management qualification which he says puts him way ahead of his peers who chose university after school.
I would encourage anyone with the itch to go it alone, or grow their business, to make it happen. There is lots of help available out there if you do some research and check out what’s on offer at Chesterfield College. It might just surprise you.