Tag Archives: free

National Carers Week

6 Jun

A huge 3 out of 5 of us are expected to become carers at some point in our lives. Caring for someone, whether its part time or round the clock can have a huge impact on your lifestyle.

The 6th June – 12th June is National Carers Week, aimed to help the 6.5 million unpaid carers across the UK with support, advice and recognition!  As a carer it can be hard to maintain personal relationships, health and work.

We will be at Newton Abbot Racecourse on Wednesday 8th June offering guidance to carers who are looking to get back into employment and providing alternative ideas such as self-employment.

Self-employment can enable you to work flexible hours that suit your caring commitments, whether it’s ironing, dog-walking or a hidden talent you can look to sell your skill and become the owner of your own business.

Opportunity Plus offer a range of free business start-up guidance, so if you are unable to make it on the day then please get in touch on 0800 043 2440 or info@opsw.co.uk to see how we can help.

For more information on National Carers Week or to see how you can help, please visit: http://www.carersweek.org/

Google’s Digital Garage

6 Apr

When starting a business, the internet can be your biggest tool especially Google. Google can help you in more ways than you think, and have created a branch of their empire that teaches valuable digital skills – Digital Garage.

Digital Garage is aimed at small businesses and people who want to grow their business, career or digital confidence. The site is free to join and will create a unique learning plan for you based on what your aims are and you are able to explore a range of topics including ‘Get noticed with social media’ and ‘Get started with analytics’.

You can track your progress through modules and when you’ve completed one you will gain a badge; when you’ve completed all of the topics you’ll get a certificate!

If you’re starting a business, want to expand online or learn new digital skills then register now and have a world of wisdom at your fingertips.


Our Smart start-up courses

30 Jul

Having just finished our latest free SMART Start up Business programme we are excited to start another this week, meeting new people wanting to start up their business and become self-employed. We have had a range of businesses from land management, jewellery makers to property services.

The course aims to give people the skills and confidence to start up their business, how to overcome some of the challenges of starting up and how to ensure that you have a successful business.

“It is a relaxed atmosphere where you are not bombarded with info but come out feeling very motivated”

The attendees really benefited from the support of others and felt happy to ask questions and share concerns as the learning is done in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.

Breaking the information down into 4, 3 hour sessions that build on each other makes the information clear and easy to understand and retain. The sessions cover Idea Development, Market Research, Finance and Funding and Marketing and Sales.

“I am due to meet my NEA Mentor next week. Really can’t wait to get things up and running now. Once again, thank you so much to you both for all your help, I found the course so helpful.”

The attendees came on to the course with a business idea and in some cases feeling a bit overwhelmed by how much they didn’t know and how much they needed to do.

One of the areas of concern for all was finance, with tax and registering with HMRC being the top worries. By the end of the session all felt much more confident and were surprised how simple everything can be.   By the end they all had a clear plan of their next steps.

“The finance side was my biggest concern but after today I feel more positive about things”

We really enjoy watching our lovely attendees start moving their dream to a reality, filed with motivation and enthusiasm.

There are courses running in Newton Abbot and Exeter and our ‘Get inspired’ Intensive start up programme is running in Torquay and Paignton and is just for women.  For more information, call Opportunity Plus on 0800 043 2440 or email info@opsw.co.uk

How you can support small businesses without spending money!

9 Sep

It’s becoming increasingly fashionable to shun the big corporations and support local businesses where we can.  It can be easier said than done though, we are all pushed for time, and it’s so easy to nip to the supermarket or go straight to Amazon to buy everything we need in one hit.  When I went on maternity leave, one of the things I was most looking forward to was simply having time to buy fresh bread from the local bakery instead of getting supermarket bread!  And for the first few weeks it was great, I bought my bread from the bakery, had a vegetable box delivered by a local farm, bought lovely handmade cards and gifts from the small shops in my local town… but then my little baby who slept all the time became a big boisterous boy and I discovered the wonders of online shopping!

I still try to buy local where I can, and through my role of Enterprise Coach with Opportunity Plus, I am forever meeting entrepreneurs who make lovely things that I want to buy!  But spending money isn’t the only way you can support a small, local business (though it certainly helps!!).  Here are some ways that you can support small businesses, without having to spend money!

1 – Interact with them on social media.  Getting a new like on Facebook can brighten a small business owner’s day, and only takes you a second to do.   But likes aren’t everything.  Commenting on and sharing posts helps to increase a page’s “reach”, meaning that more people see what they have got to say.  If you have bought something from them, post a picture of you using it, or let them know how much your friend loved their gift.

2 – Write a review.  This could simply be a recommendation on their Facebook page, or a post on their wall; but if you write a blog, why not write about a positive experience you’ve had with the business, or about the great product you bought from them.  If they like what you have to say, it’s likely they will link to it themselves, bringing you more readers too.  Win-win!

3 – Tell y0ur friends.  Your real life friends and family that is.  Often we share our bad experiences of customer service, but how often do we tell the story of a good experience?  Not the times when something out of the ordinary happened, just the simple friendly greeting when you entered the shop, or the time they spent with you helping you find the right gift for a friend?

4 – Have a chat.  If you can see the owner is looking a little bored behind their friendly customer service smile, have a chat with them.  Even if you’re not intending to buy anything, you can give them an indication of the products you like and don’t like – it’s all market research for the owner.  (I buy in slings for my business and have to choose between about 50 fabrics each time, it’s impossible!  So I appreciate people telling me their favourites, even if I know they aren’t planning to buy one.)

5 – Follow links!  If you see a mention to a business on a blog or elsewhere, click on the link and follow it to their website.  As well as increasing their website traffic, it shows the search engines that this is a website that people want to visit, which can help their website move up the rankings.

Easy!  Just don’t forget to use the small business yourself when you need something they sell!!

What small businesses would you like to show support to?  Comment below and tell us about a good experience that you’ve had with a small business, and don’t forget to put a link to their website.

Free Face Painting!

26 Aug

On Monday, 17th June, the OPSW team had a team building day where we were taught to face paint by Helen Eyre from Bristol based face painting company, Cats Whiskers.

Helen started her business in 2002 and it has gone from strength to strength, now offering a range of services on top of face painting: balloon modelling, glitter and henna tattoos,  pregnancy bump painting and photography, and courses like the one we attended.  Cats Whiskers is also available to buy as a franchise, so do check out the website if you are interested in starting your own face painting business.

We had a great day learning the tricks of the trade, and painting each other as tigers, pirates and dolphins!

We’d love to come and share our new skills at your community centre or fund raising event—offering free face painting to attendees to help raise awareness of your centre and of the services that we offer at Opportunity Plus South West.

Please get in touch for more information, call us on 0800 043 2440 or email info@opsw.co.uk.

FREE ICT Training

13 May

At Opportunity Plus South West we offer Free Basic ICT Training on a one to one basis.  If you know someone who would benefit from this training, ask them to call us on 0800 043 2440 for more information.  We also offer free support for using social media, either as an individual or as a business.

ICT Poster


30 Oct

We have decided to extend our competition deadline to 23rd NOVEMBER 2012, with the winners being announced in early December.  This is because we have gained some great entries by attending groups and completing entry forms on a 1:1 basis with them, and we want to give more people the opportunity to enter in this way.  But you can still enter by emailing us an entry form too.  If you run or are a member of a group who would like us to come to you to discuss self employment, please get in touch on 0800 043 2440.

Open to anyone aged 18-25 with a burning business idea!

We have a range of exciting prizes up for grabs, including six months free gym membership at the beautiful Osborne Hotel in Meadfoot, Torquay; a climbing wall voucher for two at Parkfield Torbay; a photoshoot from Caz Steffens Photography; free entry for four people to Kents Cavern; free family swimming at Torbay Leisure Centre; a free hair cut and blow dry with Liza Kane and another from e-hairdressing; a gift voucher from Ancient Elements.  On top of these great prizes, anyone who enters will receive all our usual business ideas development and start up support.  We have a panel of guest judges from the local community who will be helping us choose the best entries.

All you have to do to enter is tell us your business idea.  Whether it’s a well thought out business idea that you’ve already researched; your dream business that’s completely unrealistic; a tried and tested risk free business opportunity; or just the beginnings of an idea that you need to develop, we’d love to hear it.  We’re looking for creativity and enthusiasm as much as business knowledge.  Please get in touch if you’d like any help getting your idea onto paper.

Simply complete the entry form with your details and business idea, or post your idea on our Facebook page (on the wall or a private message) and return it to us by 23rd November 2012.

The entry form is available on our Toolbox website, or you can email alangmead@opsw.co.uk or phone us on 0800 043 2440 for more information.

Good Luck – we look forward to hearing your ideas!

Competition Poster