Taking a look back over the last 12 months has really highlighted what an exceptionally busy time it has been for the Business East Sussex (BES) Team.
The service has directly delivered grants in excess of £250k and has also helped businesses within the East Sussex region gain access to further finance of £2 million.
Over this year the BES team has now grown to a team of 11 with specialist advisors in Business-Start Up, Strategic planning and Finance coming on board.
What’s more, the team has been out and about networking; meeting entrepreneurs across the county and it has also delivered its own series of acclaimed events.
During the past year, BES has helped over 300 businesses across the region – whether that was by offering advice or access to funding. One of the biggest sources of funding that BES has helped to deliver in 2017 has been the South-East Business Boost grants scheme. Dozens of companies and business from across the county have already benefitted, including high tech engineering, micro-breweries and musical instrument manufacturers.
Commenting on the past year, Ian Smallwood, Head of Business Services for BES, said: “This has been a tremendous year for Business East Sussex. We have worked with and supported more businesses than ever before and it is great to see what a difference our support and the finance can make to individual businesses. It is also pleasing to see so many of the ambitious entrepreneurs in the county, seeing opportunities, even in the present environment, and taking up the challenge by investing in their businesses”.
At the start of the year BES was able to offer advice on an uninspiring budget. Following a snap election called by Teresa May, the advice from BES was: “keep calm and don’t panic.”
Earlier in the year BES also approached the issue of cyber security – with a series of events on how people could protect their systems and enhance them further by moving over to the cloud. This was particularly relevant after the global cyberattack that crippled the NHS computer systems!
BES have also addressed General Data Protection Regulation, legislation that will affect the majority of businesses but is still not fully understood. An interactive workshop highlighted how businesses could be compliant with the new legislation and turn it to a competitive advantage.
Diversification by entering new markets at home and abroad can spread business risk and increase income and BES was at the forefront of a campaign to get East Sussex exporting, in conjunction with the Department of International Trade (DIT). The UK exported a staggering £305 billion worth of goods and services in the year to March 2017 and BES held an event with DIT to highlight the fact that barriers to international trade were not as a big as many SMEs think. Opticals entrepreneur Jason Kirk, of Kirk & Kirk, gave his first-hand experience of reaching international markets to the meeting.
The chancellor’s autumn speech provided another opportunity for BES to engage with businesses across the county through live tweeting comment on budget announcements as they happened and a blog round up of the highlights of the speech within two hours of the chancellor sitting down.
Ian went on to say: “Despite the uncertain business environment 2017 has been a great year for BES and East Sussex businesses and our new team of experienced advisors will allow us to provide even more advice and finance to the businesses of East Sussex into 2018 and beyond. We’ll be out there talking to businesses and running more events than ever over the coming months”
To find out how Business East Sussex could help your business survive and thrive contact us now on: email@example.com