Andy Birchall is a talented ‘all rounder’ and born and bred Manxman. A qualified Engineer, Andy decided to set up his own home improvement and property maintenance business ABsolutions.
Below, Andy shares his experiences of starting a new business in the Isle of Man and how the Department for Enterprise’s Micro Business Grant Scheme provided him with the vital funding, training and mentoring to support him throughout this journey.
'I’m a qualified engineer and having worked in the manufacturing sector for over 30 years, I was able to take a lot of that experience and network to start my business, ABsolutions.
ABsolutions is primarily a home improvement company; we are available for property maintenance, garden structures, fencing and bespoke storage solutions. One of our most popular services is loft ladder installation. I take a lot of pride in my work and repeat custom is of great importance to me and something I continuously strive for.'
'An ex-colleague works at the Department for Enterprise and recommended the Department’s Micro Business Grant Scheme, aimed at individuals looking to take their first steps into self-employment.
The application process could not have been easier. There was clear and available support offered during every step, which made the entire process informative and stress free. After completing an application form and some initial phone and email correspondence with the Enterprise Support team, I was accepted on to the Micro Business Grant Scheme training course; a six day training course which covered a range of topics including business planning, cash flow forecasting, tax and more. This enabled me to create my business plan.
An invaluable aspect of this scheme is the Business Advisory Service, which involves being partnered with a business mentor over an 18 month period to help with the set-up of your business. I was hesitant about the marketing elements required to promote my business, but my advisor really saw me through this and gave me great advice as to how to market ABsolutions.'
'My job is centred on relationships; word of mouth, the internet; good relationships are paramount in my business. I love being able to create and nurture these relationships and, in turn, creating a good reputation for myself and the work of ABsolutions.
There’s a lot of empowerment that comes along with self-employment. I’m excited to get up and go to work. There are so many chances I get now to improve and develop new skills while fine tuning others.
The Isle of Man has been very good to me over the years. There is so much freedom and opportunity here to be able to make your mark on your sector- or even create your own. It truly is and ‘Island of Opportunity’.'
'The support given through the scheme is completely immeasurable and I would highly recommend others get involved. I’m so happy and proud of my company and I don’t think that I would be in the position I’m in now as quickly or easily had I not had the support from the Department for Enterprise.'
The Department for Enterprise thanks Andy for his contribution to this article.