Livability’s Enterprise Agency helps London resident get biz off the ground
Ruth Read (25) is a talented artist and baker and she uses her skills to run her own business – The Lady Reads. She sells home-made cakes and her own unique print designs from her stall in Camden Market. Ruth is doing well as has big ambitions for the business: ‘I aim to make enough profit in the coming years to buy a small coffee shop where I can also display my art work.’
That all sounds quite straight forward: talented individual with a passion, add some entrepreneurial spirit and up springs a business…Well, it wasn’t quite that straight forward. This may come as no surprise to those who have set up their own business, but certainly would do to those who have listened to the government promote the importance of new businesses as drivers of the economic recovery.
It was precisely government local authorities who hindered Ruth’s progress: ‘I’ll be honest,’ says Ruth, ‘the local authorities were not that helpful. Their websites are not succinct and the language they use is obscure. I needed to learn all the relevant terms and systems one needs before starting a food business.’ Having an over-jargonised website would slow down most people, but this was a particular challenge for Ruth who has dyslexia.
In the end Ruth was referred to the Enterprise Agency (EA), which is an organisation run by Livability which works closely with the government to help aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their business aims. The EA runs workshops and training courses which cover core entrepreneurial skills such as business planning, book-keeping, marketing and mentoring once the business has been launched. Ruth said, ‘The Livability Enterprise Agency helped me create my business by giving me the essential knowledge everyone entering self-employment needs to know. They helped me learn about the basics of business like what cash flow is, how margins work, basic accountancy, the rules of taxation and generally how to create a flexible business plan.’
The Enterprise Agency was of real use in cutting through the jargon and helping Ruth through the problems caused by her dyslexia. This was of particular importance to Ruth: ‘I did have to overcome many obstacles in relation to my dyslexia. Numerical work was really tough for me and it played a big part in finding out whether my business proposal was viable or not. An example would be; calculating the price of each unit of cake I make meant working out exactly how much the ingredients cost. This would be particularly difficult when trying to find the value of one or two eggs when you buy a box at a set price.’
The Enterprise Agency’s positioning as being a part of Livability gives them an added sensitivity to issues surrounding disability, with other support organisations may not have. This is of particular significance given the high proportion of disabled people who are out of work compared to non-disabled.
Ruth has now taken her skills into the real world as she now manages her own baking and art business called The Lady Reads. She has a stall at Camden Market where she sells her home baked cakes and her own original print designs. So far it has gone from strength to strength and Ruth is learning a great deal, ‘I have been working on my stall for the last few months and it has been very challenging, but also extremely important towards understanding my market, development of my company and its future.’ Ruth has expanded her business to include selling her products to local cafes and doing private orders.
Click HERE for more information on the Enterprise Agency.