AS the local newspaper industry launches its highly acclaimed Local Business Accelerators campaign led by Deborah Meaden of Dragon’s Den, new research shows that Britain’s young businesses are positive about prospects for growth despite tough economic times - but they still need advice and support.
The campaign, supported by the Government and private sector’s Business in You campaign and backed by the Prime Minister David Cameron as well as the Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King, launches today.
Over 500 newspapers across the UK are joining forces to deliver a £15 million boost to promising young businesses through free advertising and mentoring.
Businesses aged between one and five years old can enter LBA for the chance to win a free ad campaign in their local paper plus mentoring support from local business leaders. The most promising will go forward to the national stage of the competition to win a year’s mentoring from Deborah Meaden and a local advertising campaign devised by a top London creative ad agency. LBA national ambassador Deborah Meaden said: “With last year’s LBA having demonstrated the unique power of local and regional press to provide a meaningful boost to promising young businesses, I am delighted to be supporting the initiative once again.
“The campaign provided tangible examples of the real contribution that local newspapers can provide to young businesses across many different sectors, accelerating their development. “Enterprise and entrepreneurism in the local community is more important than ever before and I look forward to finding another young business to mentor and drive forward.”
Last year’s overall LBA winner, Ilkley Brewery in Yorkshire, which is currently receiving mentoring support from Deborah, saw its orders in Leeds double as a result of the free LBA ad campaign in its local paper and the business expanded to take on two new employees since taking part in the initiative.
* Research conducted by Toluna and campaign organisers the Newspaper Society reveals that a third of owners of young businesses expect some or significant growth in the next 12 months (35 per cent) with the majority saying they expected their businesses to perform at the same level (53 per cent). Owners were most likely to use local newspapers to advertise their businesses (22 per cent), followed by internet advertising (15 per cent) and directories (14 per cent). Local newspapers were cited as the most effective of all forms of advertising (49 per cent), followed by outdoor / point of sale (48 per cent), and internet (45 per cent).
DENTAL COMPANY’S LBA DELIGHT
That’s David Ward’s verdict on the mentoring and advertising he received after winning the inaugural The Sheffield Newspapers Local Business Accelerators competition.
The founder of 3SL Dental, which has surgeries in Dronfield and Sheffield, won the help of Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, and a package of free advertising in Sheffield Newspapers.
Over eight months, a dozen meetings and scores of emails and phone calls, David says Richard set him, and his wife Jennie, straight on hiring, marketing, public relations, networking and finances.
The result has been a 10 per cent growth in business and a huge increase in confidence, David says.
He added: “Richard told us what was working and what wasn’t. I remember one meeting where we thought someone might actually be pilfering money - but Richard showed that it was because the accounts were being put together wrongly.
“Before that I received the figures but I didn’t know what to do with them. I was also trying to do everything when I needed to focus on the dentistry.”
Now 3SL has hired a firm to handle its marketing, PR and social media and is looking for a business manager.
David added: “On a basic level it was great to have someone independent and confidential to discuss issues with.
“Richard was always there for us - he was even in the crowd cheering when my wife and I ran the Sheffield 10K!
“Before we won the competition we paid a specialist dental consultants a £1,000-a-month retainer, plus extra for advice. Some of Richard’s best advice was common sense - you can get so tied up in fancy ideas he told us what we needed to be concentrating on.
“I can’t recommend the competition highly enough.”
Richard ran hi-tech steel maker ATI Allvac for five years and is now the chief executive of a technology start up, in addition to being chamber chief.
The Telegraph is proud to announce that Richard has kindly agreed to be mentor again this year.