Thursday, 27 October 2011

Interview with Kate Cowan

Got an idea for a business but don’t know where to start? Spring to Action is not-for-profit organisation set-up to help support new and small businesses grow in the East Midlands.

Drinking tea and talking shop with co-owner Kate Cowan, read my interview below and find out the best tips for all your entrepreneurial desires.

Kate and business partner Kash Khunkhuna initially set-up the business to enable people from disadvantaged communities to develop enterprise skills to either start a business of their own or use it to gain employment.

The enterprise agency, based in Derby and Leicester, was set-up five years ago just after Kate joined Leicester’s LCB Depot as an Enterprise Support Manager.

Last month, Kate decided to leave the Depot to concentrate on Spring to Action. She said, “I was working on Spring about two days a week whilst at the Depot but as our client list grows I needed to dedicate more time to it.”

Now working full-time on Spring Kate says the timing is just perfect. “Businesses are losing the support of other free services such as Business Link which is now only going to offer an online service.”

She added, “The best part of my job is seeing people realise their dreams and supporting their families.

“My mum used to work for Citizen Advice Bureau so we always had discussions over the dinner table about debt management and so I’ve had an interest in businesses ever since.”

Kate’s proudest achievement with Spring to date is working with VoiceUK. Spring produced a three year business plan and VoiceUK subsequently won a contract with NHS and went from being a regional organisation to national.

In a bid to help young enterprise entrepreneurs, the 34-year-old became an investment panel member for the Bank of TMC.

The Bank of TMC is a programme launched by The Mighty Creatives to support enterprising, creative young people in Leicester Shire; working together to turn good ideas into living, breathing businesses that provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs, create employment for other young people and make a positive difference to our communities.

Davey Ivens, Bank of TMC manager, said, “Kate was able to offer clear advice for the young social entrepreneurs about their business planning and market research. She also helped the Bank remember that we’re working in a business environment and encourage the young entrepreneurs to behave in a business-like manner too.”

Kate, who grew up in Hertfordshire, studied performing arts and arts management at Leicester’s De Montfort University.

She has a passion for project management and said she loves everything “from the budgets to the planning and mapping.”

Kate’s tips for budding entrepreneurs
Think about the effects on your families finances and your relationships
You have to put a lot of effort into setting up and running your own business. Make sure you’ve got the full support of your family behind you.

What’s your survival income?
Work out what is the minimum you would need to earn to survive.

Is it financially viable?
Can you afford to invest time and money into and will it be worth the rewards?

Is there a gap in the market?
There’s no point duplicating a product or service which has been made a thousands times over. Make sure you’re product or service is offering the customer something different or new.

Are you going to enjoy doing the job?
You will be spending all your time and effort working on this so make sure your interest can withhold the length of hours you’ll be putting into it.

Research and don’t get fixated on one aspect be prepared to be flexible
Some ideas will need to be moulded to fit into the market place but if you get fixated on one idea or a particular way of delivering it then it won’t work.

For one-to-one advice or to find out more about Spring to Action visit or find Kate on Twitter @springuk

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