Tell us a little bit about your business journey, when did you set up and what does your business offer?
I am the sole proprietor of the business and a City & Guilds qualified motor mechanic, with over 25 years’ experience in the motor trade industry including carrying out van conversions, motorhome upgrades and repairs.
I set up my business in May 2019. The business’s focus is primarily van conversions to day vans and campervans, fitting out commercial vans and motorhome repairs. Our services range from lining the insides of vehicles, fitting seats, solar panels, night heaters, tow bars etc to full van conversions that include living, sleeping, kitchen and shower/toilet facilities.
How has the Micro Business Grant Scheme helped your business?
Although I have years of work experience in the motor trade including van conversions, I have never owned my own business. The Micro Business Grant Scheme gave me the tools and support to set up the business. Each workshop focused on the different areas you need to consider when setting up a business and advice on how to make the business viable and successful. The people running the workshops were knowledgeable and many had experience of running their own businesses. The workshops also gave you the opportunity to meet other people setting up their own businesses and share experiences and ideas.
How did you find the experience of receiving support?
I found that the team at Enterprise Isle of Man were friendly and approachable and provided support from the very start when I enquired about the Scheme.
There is some form filling at the start of the process, but it was very straightforward, and help was available from the Enterprise team if I needed it.
The workshops covered all the aspects of running a business and were run by people who were qualified in the subject, and able to give me informative insights into running your own business. My mentor guided me through the initial stages of running my business, giving me areas to focus on and helping me through the remaining steps of the scheme.
Applying for and receiving the grant was relatively straight forward. It takes some planning, with more paperwork but again the Enterprise team and my mentor were on hand to give advice if I needed it. The grant application was processed quickly, and the grant enabled me to recoup some of the costs I incurred when setting up my business and invest further in the business.
Tell us about your business – what do you enjoy most about the work you do?
Primarily my business carries out van conversions for leisure or business use. We also upgrade and carry out repairs on motorhomes, horseboxes etc. Customers’ come to us with ideas of how they want their van to look, and I like to take the time to discuss their ideas and requirements with them. There are lots of things to consider when getting the maximum benefit from the conversion, whether the van is being used for business or leisure. I get a lot of satisfaction from transforming an empty, dull space in the back of van into a ‘home away from home’ or a place of work. I enjoy seeing my customers ideas realised and meeting, or surpassing, their expectations of what they wanted from the conversion/upgrade.
Outside of work, what do you like to do? How do you spend your free time?
Mountain biking and camping in my converted van.
How did you hear about the support schemes offered by the Department for Enterprise?
Friends who had used the support scheme.
Would you recommend the support scheme to other businesses and what would be your top tips for going through the application process?
Yes, definitely! Don’t be put off with the form filling or the commitment to attending workshops or mentor meetings. Assistance is readily available from the Enterprise team or your mentor and the workshops give you lots of relevant information about setting up and running your business.
The Micro Business Grant Scheme has been designed for new start-ups or businesses trading for less than 18 months, and offers training, financial assistance and business mentoring.
To find out more about the Micro Business Grant Scheme, click here.