Belfast Telegraph

NI Entrepreneurs urged to kick-start their business ideas

Co. Tyrone mumpreneurs - Joanne Gallagher and Stephanie Rice – launched Good Vibes in their hometown of Strabane, after identifying a gap in the market for alternative and holistic treatments in the town, thanks to support from the Go For It Programme in association with Derry City and Strabane District Council. Pictured with Stephanie Rice (left) and Joanne Gallagher (right) and with their business advisor, Orla McNulty, Strabane Enterprise Agency (Centre).
Co. Tyrone mumpreneurs - Joanne Gallagher and Stephanie Rice – launched Good Vibes in their hometown of Strabane, after identifying a gap in the market for alternative and holistic treatments in the town, thanks to support from the Go For It Programme in association with Derry City and Strabane District Council. Pictured with Stephanie Rice (left) and Joanne Gallagher (right) and with their business advisor, Orla McNulty, Strabane Enterprise Agency (Centre).

By Go For It

NI Councils team up to deliver Open Evenings for new business start-ups

The 11 Northern Ireland Councils have joined forces to host ‘Start a Business Information Evenings’ across 25 locations on Thursday 21st November (5.30 pm-7 pm) for entrepreneurs thinking about starting their own business.

This project is part-funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.

The council-wide initiative is aimed at providing would-be entrepreneurs with the chance to speak to a Go For It Programme business advisor about their potential business idea and to find out how the Go For It Programme can help them.

The Go For It programme provides individuals in Northern Ireland who are thinking of starting a business, with step by step advice and mentoring in producing a business plan.

Eugene McGuckin, Programme Manager, NIBSUP said: “The business advisors delivering the Go for it programme on behalf of the 11 councils in Northern Ireland have vast experience in helping budding entrepreneurs to turn their dreams of owning their own business into a reality.

The Go For It Programme offers expert advice to develop a comprehensive business plan, covering everything from accounts to marketing and long-term business growth. The business plan is described as a ‘roadmap’ to success for the first few years in business.

We would encourage anyone who has an idea for a business to come along and meet an experienced business advisor for a free, no-obligation opportunity to discuss how the Go For It programme can really help their business idea take off.”

The Go For It programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business advisors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies. It combines expert advice with help to develop a robust business plan to turn ideas into a commercial enterprise.

GFI Patterson's Forge Hammer & Tongs 2.jpg
James McCullough from Ballymena fought back from a traumatic brain injury to launch his own blacksmith business, thanks to help from the Go For It Programme in association with Mid & East Antrim Borough Council. Pictured with James is Jenine McIlroy, a former Business Advisor at Ballymena Business Centre who provided James with expert advice and help with developing a business plan in order to help turn his business idea into a reality.

Two local entrepreneurs who have completed the Programme to pursue their dream of running their own business are James McCullough from Patterson’s Forge Hammer & Tongs in Templepatrick and Joanne Gallagher and Stephanie Rice from Good Vibes in Strabane. 

James from Ballymena launched Patterson’s Forge Hammer & Tongs in February 2019 at the National Trust’s Patterson’s Spade Mill in Templepatrick after learning the art of blacksmithing as part of his recovery from a life-changing brain injury.

He spotted a gap in the market for delivering workshops and classes teaching people interested in the art of blacksmithing the basics of this ancient craft, so turned to the Go For It Programme to seek expert advice and help with developing a robust business plan to help turn her idea into a business.

James said: “I spent a number of years travelling around Northern Ireland teaching people the basics principles of blacksmithing. I was really surprised that there are so many people interested in learning the art of blacksmithing and that’s when I had the idea for the business.

However, I had no idea where to start and that’s when I got in touch with the Go For It Programme. My business advisor at Ballymena Business Centre was a tremendous help, providing me with all the advice and guidance required to get my business up and running.

They helped me with practical things in the early stages like setting out a business plan and doing a detailed two-year financial forecast that determined whether my idea was financially viable. This business plan and financial forecast allowed me to approach the National Trust with the idea of renting an unused workshop at Patterson’s Spade Mill that would give me a historic setting to pass on my knowledge and experience of this traditional skill.

The workshops and classes are now up and running with many of them fully subscribed. I have also built up a steady stream of orders for decorative and everyday items such as wrought-iron gates, railings, furniture, tools and horseshoes.”

Joanne Gallagher and Stephanie Rice launched Good Vibes in their hometown of Strabane in June 2019 after identifying a gap in the market for alternative and holistic treatments in the town.

Stephanie said: “Opening my own business was something I had always dreamed of and with Joanne also working within the industry, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to partner up to bring the dream to life.

We had the passion for health and wellbeing, but beyond our qualifications and training, we didn’t know how to put it all together into a sustainable business model. That’s where the Go For It Programme came in and really helped us.

The programme helped us with everything from marketing strategies to financial planning. The Business Advisors were very attentive and explained everything to us in great detail, and we both felt really informed and supported throughout the whole process. With the help of the programme, we were really supported to set up the business”. 

For more information on the ‘Start a Business Information Evenings’ on Thursday 21st November (5.30 pm – 7 pm) and to find the nearest location to you please visit www.goforitni.com/events

If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business call 0800 027 0639 or visit: www.goforitni.com

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