Tag Archives: children

Government Start-up Loans

26 Jun

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When starting a business you may find the start-up costs slightly daunting and may prevent you from going ahead with your idea, however there is help out there so don’t give up!

The government offer a business start-up loan service where you can borrow money to cover your start-up costs and also receive useful advice from experts. To help get your business up and running there are a few requirements:

  • You’re aged 18 or over
  • You’ve developed a business idea
  • Your business will be based in the UK
  • You are a UK resident
  • Your business has been trading between 0-24 months

The application will also require you to have produced a business plan and cash flow, which is essentially creating a more detailed plan of your business. You can find templates on their website, along with support. Alternatively you may be able to get help from one our enterprise coaches at Opportunity Plus can run through what you need.

Once you’ve been successful with your application you still get on-going support, and can pay the loan off over up to 5 years at a fixed interest rate.

Don’t think you’ll get accepted? Take a look below to see just how many businesses they’ve helped get going so far, or check out their website – https://www.startuploans.co.uk/

Don’t forget to think about how you’re going to pay the loan back, and only borrow as much as you need.

Start up loans

If you want support and guidance for starting your business then please get in touch on 0800 043 2440 or info@opsw.co.uk

Interview: Moo Music

17 May

Logo with Background

Moo Music is a pre school music opportunity now available nationally. Opportunity Plus spoke to ideas man Ant Parker and franchisee Ali Hider to find out about their experiences of self-employment and setting up a business.

How did Moo Music get started?

Ant: We decided to create Moo Music as a business opportunity when my wife Jess and I were bringing up our two daughters, Hannah and Eve. We noticed a distinct lack of good quality and wholesome children’s music. Being musicians ourselves we eventually had enough of the poor quality and cheaply recorded children’s songs and commissioned a professional children’s songwriter to write and record a series of songs.

The brief was that they had to be positive, uplifting, fun and educational. They also had to be recorded properly with real instruments, lots of vocal harmonies and most importantly… adults had to enjoy the listening experience as well as the children! It didn’t take long to realise that these songs needed sharing and that other parents in the area were crying out for something similar.

Having said that the aim of Moo Music is not only to give 0 to 5 year olds some fantastic experiences with music but to give young mums the opportunity to start and run a flexible business when their own children start school.

Ali: Ant is my brother and he had the idea a long time ago. He created Moo Music over time but then needed someone to actually put the sessions and ideas into practice, so that’s where I came in. I have always worked with children in various settings from private homes to nurseries/schools and I have a huge passion for music so this suited me perfectly!

Ant Jess Hannah Eve Web Res

What is your role within the business?

Ant: I do the general admin for the business – accounts – sales – licensing – marketing – business help – franchisee motivation – stock ordering etc. Jess does the packing up and sending of stock and also helps with the ‘help and support’ for the franchisees.

Ali: I am primarily a franchisee of the business but I also act as an advisor and trainer for the new franchisees. This involves people coming to observe my sessions and question/answer forums. I also attend festivals and other events to promote Moo Music. We are hoping to do a Moo Music live event in the city with a live band! Very exciting…

How have you gone about marketing the business?

Ant: Moo Music has only been available nationally since January this year. Before that it was only available to friends and friends of friends etc.

Since launching nationally we use Google ‘Pay Per Click’ and all of our sales so far have come from this. I have also taken out a year’s advertising with www.femalefranchise.co.uk which has brought is a few leads but no sales yet. I do have a mail-out scheduled with them in June so that should see the best results.

I will also start Facebook Ads soon. The beauty of Google PPC and Facebook is that you can market to a very tight potential customer base and only pay pence if they click on the links. The Google PPC takes them to the following video www.letsmakemoomusic.co.uk and if they are interested enough to carry on and watch the second video we have their email address so can engage in a conversation.

Ali: I market the business in a variety of ways including ads in local magazines and newspapers. House to house leaflet dropping, Moo Music magnets all over my car! Leaflets in school/nursery book bags also notice boards, however I have to say that “word of mouth” is the most effective. I started with two children in a small hall and a year on I have 90 children over 9 sessions!

What are the benefits of being self-employed?

Ant: Flexibility and a sense of worth!

Ali: I can work the business around my family easily and other projects that I’m involved in, in the local community. It’s is extremely satisfying to see something grow so rapidly and successfully.

What personal qualities would you say are needed for self-employment?

Ant: Be strong minded and believe in yourself. Be nice to people. Remember that no one knows your business better than you do or will ever be as bothered about it as you.

Ali: I would say you need to be hard working, reliable, focused, patient, approachable and fun! I have also had to learn to be a bit more assertive which has been quite hard at times when I’m not naturally like that.

Ali Hider with a Class Web Res

What advice would you give to someone considering self-employment?

Ant: It definitely gives you flexibility but it will be hard work. It’s very hard to ‘switch off’ mentally even if you have a separate workspace. Most people will advise you not to… but you’ll find these people are the ones stuck in their day jobs earning money for someone else! If you have a dream… Go for it!

Ali: I would say get the right people around you to support you and who understand your vision. Find others who are in a similar position. Network!

What are your plans for the future of the business?

Ant: We’d like to get Moo Music spread as far around the UK as possible and are aiming for 100 separate areas. We have 10 so far.

Ali: I have 3 postcodes to work in and as the business continues to grow, I plan to take on freelance staff to run sessions for me so I can concentrate on expanding the business. However, as long as I am able to, I want to be running the sessions as that’s really where my heart is. Maybe I will need to employ an admin person too!

You can  find out more about Moo Music by visiting their website http://www.moo-music.co.uk and following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Supporting the wider community

26 Mar

In our work with Opportunity Plus, we have come across some truly fantastic community centres and groups, and we want to share some of the great work that is happening out there.

Does your community group need some support? 

Here are some of the things that we can do for you:

  • Create a Facebook page for your community and teach you how to use it
  • Offer free face painting at fundraising and other events
  • Feature you on our blog.
  • Get in touch to see how we could help your centre.

Balloons

Balloons work with bereaved children in the Exeter area to help them through the grieving and healing process.  They have volunteering opportunities available and offer full training.  Find out more at www.balloonscharity.co.uk

The Hub Yeovil

The Hub Yeovil is a community centre working with disabled people.  They run a range of microenterprises to teach members valuable life and enterprise skills.  www.thehubyeovil.co.uk

Healthy Babies UK

Healthy Babies UK provide training to healthcare professionals, children’s centre staff, nursery workers and mothers to support the health, development, and wellbeing of babies and young children.  www.healthy-babies-uk.org

The Money Advice Service

If you have any questions about money – investments, debt, budgeting – then the Money Advice Service can help.  Call them on 0300 500 5000 for free advice and support.

Training

The Education and Training Level 3 course has replaced the old Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Sector qualification, and enables you to teach anything that you are qualified or experienced in to adults (16+).  Information, Advice and Guidance is another useful qualification for the community sector.  Call us or email info@opsw.co.uk for more information.

What community centres do you use?  Why not visit your local centre to find out more about what they do and get involved!  Check out www.do-it.org or your local CVS office to find out if there are any volunteering opportunities near you.

Share Your Return To Work Story

26 Feb

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a real worry, no matter what your family and job situation. There is so much to think about, and everyone’s worries will be different. It’s important that you consider your options but don’t let these worries take over your maternity leave – it’s such a special time and you should enjoy getting to know your baby. If you have any concerns about returning to work, please get in touch with us for free helpful tips and advice, or just someone to talk to. Call us on 0800 043 2440, or join our friendly Flexi-Mum group on Facebook.

  • How will my baby cope without me all day?
  • How can I sit still and concentrate all day?
  • What am I going to wear?
  • What are “Keeping in Touch” days?
  • Which childcare option is best for me?
  • What hours do I want to work?
  • What if my baby is poorly?
  • How on earth am I going to get to work on time?
  • When should I go back?
  • I’m not as passionate about my job as I used to be!
  • How will I cope without my baby?
  • What are my rights?
  • I don’t remember how to do my job!
  • I’m so tired, how will I get through the day?
  • Will I have to stop breastfeeding?
  • How flexible will my employer be?
  • Will I get any in-work benefits?
  • Can I afford not to go back?
  • Can I afford to take a full year off?

Most Mums on maternity leave have asked these questions, and many more. Luckily, most of these Mums find a solution that works for them, their children and their employer, and many more find that going back to work allows them to regain their own identity, which can get a little lost when they become a Mum. We would love to hear your stories about returning to work, your worries and how you overcame them. Please email us at info@opsw.co.uk to share your story – we might even feature you in a future edition of our Flexi-Mum magazine!

Kasia McClure – Director, Our Community Matters – Blog #1

10 Feb

My journey has been an interesting one. Born in Poland in the 70s, my father was granted political asylum by Germany when I was little, but it took years for my mum and I to follow. When we eventually joined him, I was placed in a school with no German language skills. I had never left Poland – at that time, firmly behind the iron curtain. I was bullied, my parents struggled and the shock was immense. Nevertheless within a year I had immersed and made it into a grammar school. This was when my parents decided to move to Canada, where I had to do it all over again, graduating from high school and eventually becoming a teacher.

I am still a teacher by profession, though along the way I have also been a journalist (in Canada), trade and investment advisor (for the British Embassy in Warsaw) a media assistant (in London) and I worked with foreign national prisoners in Northern Ireland. I have also lived in America and Mongolia. So how did I end up in Torbay? My husband is from the Bay. We worked all over the world as he had a variety of postings, and I was able to teach in most places. When we had children, he was offered a home based job and we decided to move to Torquay, as it is a lovely place to raise a young family. When my second (and final) child turned two, I decided to go back to work and got a job in the Pastoral Team at Ellacombe Academy.

I loved the work but wanted to expand and use my life experience, my qualified teacher status and my love of working with vulnerable children and families for the greater good. I handed in my notice and set about working on establishing my own social enterprise, now known as ‘Our Community Matters’. Four weeks after having left Ellacombe in November last year, I had developed my product concept – and built a prototype website. Many of my contacts and ideas come from the school run, and Helen from Pink Fish Design (www.pinkfish-design.co.uk) was one of these people. Helen came up with wonderful branding and a logo based on my colour pallet and I was starting to build a credible business already.

But what is my product? I wanted to work with the local community in Torbay, particularly with primary and secondary schools, working with children with learning difficulties, those who don’t speak English as their first language, those who struggle to integrate and those who have behavioural problems. I want to help their parents and carers. I want to give teachers and assistants ideas on how to reach these people. I want to make a living, but I want to reinvest most of my profit into the community – hence I am a social enterprise. And I am thrilled to say that with four contracts, 400 twitter followers, a facebook page with over 200 likes and a thriving dialogue with other similar organisations in Torbay and further afield, I couldn’t be happier with how things have started.

To find out more, look at my website, follow me on Twitter @kasiamcclure1 or like and share my Facebook page. Stay tuned for my next blog entry and @boosttorbay!

 

Working with children

16 Dec

The Early Years Sector is a rewarding and vitally important sector which needs high quality staff at all levels. There are many exciting career options available, whether you are looking to work full-time, part-time or on a voluntary basis, with plenty of opportunities for training and progression.

If you have enthusiasm and enjoy working with young children and want to play a key role in supporting children’s learning and development, this could be the career for you.

The Early Years and Childcare Service can provide you with information about the different roles within early years, qualifications and training pathways and where to look for the latest jobs.

Contact us for a copy of our ‘Working in early years and childcare’ booklet  which has been designed to help you to make a more informed choice about your career options so that you feel confident about what steps to take next.

For Information on jobs, qualifications and training routes visit: www.devon.gov.uk/eycs, email: natalie.elston@devon.gov.uk or phone: 01392 385398

Flexi-Mum Project

22 Apr

We are delighted to announce that Flexi-Mum, a pilot project set up by Opportunity Plus South West to support Mums of all ages to develop and improve their work-life balance, has been supported by the Big Lottery and has received an Awards for All grant.  This funding will allow us to inspire Mums of all ages and backgrounds across Devon and Somerset, and beyond, to pursue their goals, and make the most of their local resources.

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We started running Flexi-Mum as part of the second phase of the main Opportunity Plus South West project.  A large proportion of our customers seeking business start up support in the first phase of the project were Mums looking to start their own business to gain more flexibility, or to top up their part time employment income, often using new skills and passions they had discovered since becoming a parent.  Flexi-Mum is designed to support Mums (with children of any age) with the specific difficulties they can face.  This includes things like:

  • Returning to employment after maternity leave
  • Starting your own business
  • Seeking new, flexible employment
  • Volunteering
  • Retraining
  • Choosing to take a career break to focus on parenting

We have been out and about meeting Mums across Devon and Somerset to discuss their needs/worries and have come across a range of inspirational stories and ways of managing work-life balance as a working parent.

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With the funding we have been awarded, we will be publishing three magazines as part of this project, to inspire and motivate Mums.  If you would like to write an article for the magazine, please get in touch.  We are looking for a range of articles, and would love to hear your ideas.  This is a really exciting opportunity for anyone looking to get into any kind of journalism, or wanting to promote their business, or just share their story to inspire others.

You can find out more about Flexi-Mum by following us on Facebook, joining our Facebook group for peer support, and reading our blog.  If you would like to discuss your own situation, call our friendly advisors on 0800 043 2440.

View the Fleximum advert.