Tree Shepherd recognises that a seed needs the right soil in order to grow, and we research the local environment to find out what skills are available and what services are needed.
- Individual coaching and teaching
In addition to the Start your own enterprise courses, further training packages are available for planning specific businesses such as a shop or for particular business models, eg social enterprises. One-day workshops are also on offer for focusing on specific aspects of business such as marketing, customer retention, book-keeping or human resources.
- Investment in start-up and working capital
Our particular experience is of starting businesses with little or no capital and growing them organically. This is an ideal platform for providing meaningful help to people who find themselves in difficult circumstances to start a business. By definition they often don’t have any funds to start their enterprise. We help them build the enterprise at the lowest possible cost and with the least exposure to debt.
We recognise, however, that most businesses need some start-up capital to get going. We work closely with all our clients to make their business plan as strong as possible and help them understand what they really need to get off the ground.
Once we know that, we can help them find the funding that they need. It might be a local funding agency, it might be from the government’s start up loan scheme, or on rare occasions we might provide some early support to get an idea started.
Over time we hope to build up a significant fund specifically designed to support people who have great ideas but no resources or connections to help them start.
- Incubation, shelter and support
Many people starting a business need a low-cost supportive base from which to really build momentum. There’s a limit to what can be done at the kitchen table or in the back bedroom – at some point you need more space and more stimulation.
And to be honest, some people need the commitment of paying rent (even a small rent) to prompt them into action and to take the plan off the dining table and into the market.
Tree Shepherd offer both hot desk and hot office space from their base at the Brix. We also link up with partners wherever we work to locate low-cost work space that suits the needs of the businesses we’re supporting.
- Introductions to business opportunities
When a business is starting out it is so focused on getting things right and serving its immediate customers it often doesn’t have the time or headspace to seek out new connections or opportunities. The secret of starting up well, though, is to make those connections and meet new people who can add value.
Tree Shepherd works really closely with the businesses that they support, and we understand what they need. We see connections between these businesses and make introductions and links all the time. We even help our business members become suppliers to established businesses and are constantly showcasing their products for them.
Networks are essential to business – they are where people can test ideas, share concerns, meet new contacts, get introductions and build business. However, many of the entrepreneurs we support don’t have many business contacts, so we are building enterprise networks from the grass roots. Our Forest Enterprise Networks are the place where start-ups can learn new skills and build their confidence as entrepreneurs.
Recently published research clearly shows that new entrepreneurs who have had the benefit of being mentored by experienced business are more resilient and grow faster. We are creating a network of mentors to support our entrepreneurs and help them on their journey. Their role is to act as a sounding board and to constructively challenge the entrepreneurs and get them to really think through their plans and help them focus on the actions they really need to take each step of the way.