A Staffordshire HR expert launched her own company thanks to the backing of a start-up loan scheme.
Rugeley-based Sarah Hodgson was one of the first recipients of Staffordshire County Council’s Start-Up Loan Scheme, which was launched last autumn to support new businesses.
Sarah, who has a long career in HR and a life coaching qualification, was awarded £5,000 from the scheme to fund a new laptop, software, faster internet service and a purpose-built coaching room in her new home.
She then took the plunge to launch her own company – SJH Coaching Ltd – to provide life coaching and HR support to organisations and individuals.
Sarah said: “I was coming into this as a complete novice in terms of building my own business. I made the decision to start as a limited company and heard about the start-up support programme and loan scheme.
“The support has been fantastic – giving advice on areas such as marketing and legal which is a real weight off my shoulders. This and the loan have meant that I can really focus on the business using my own experience, positivity and determination.”
She added: “When Covid-19 hit, the impact on people’s lives has been immense for everyone in different ways. People are struggling with anxieties and fears for their personal and professional lives while many businesses are concentrating on just surviving.
“We are at a stage now where people and businesses have learnt to think differently, and we can all apply our recent experiences going forward. I want to use my learnings to develop strategies helping others achieve their chosen lifestyle, career or personal goals and address any individual or SME business’s current needs in the timeliest, positive and most cost-effective manner.”
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The Start-up Loan Scheme was launched last autumn – providing interest-free loans between £3,000 and £5,000 to people who had successfully completed the Staffordshire Start-up Support Programme or similar mentoring scheme.
The support programme focuses on the county’s priority sectors and provides advice and guidance on a range of issues. It is administered by the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, while the loan scheme is delivered by the county council.
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills, Philip White, said: “We launched a comprehensive range of support for start-up businesses to give them the backing they need to get through their critical early months and during an incredibly difficult time to launch a company. This is part of our wider Staffordshire Means Back to Business programme.
“The start-up programme has been hugely popular as we anticipated, and our follow-on loan scheme is already making a difference. Sarah’s knowledge and experience combined with the advice and financial support we can provide is a fine example of how the programme should work.
“Through the pandemic we are seeing great determination and resilience as people have overcome challenges and sought new opportunities. We wish Sarah every success as she grows her business.”