Contribution to corporate priorities
The Wrexham County Borough Council Plan 2015 – 2017 highlights the local authority’s commitment to creating a vibrant, diverse and inclusive economy, with targets set to sustain the number of recorded:
- business start-ups
Businessline make a direct contribution to achieving these objectives.
Wrexham County Borough has a population of around 61,600 people, with the area having roughly 4,000 businesses.
Description of the work
Businessline’s two members of staff provide a professional and diverse range of business support services, predominantly aimed at individuals starting their own business, together with existing small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s). The core aims of the service are to:
- save people time and provide access to market leading resources
- provide businesses with current and authoritative information
- allow enterprises to make better / more well informed decisions
- have a positive effect on and help grow the local economy
Businessline aim to provide a complete business support package to clients; in areas such as start-up and trading regulations, through to offering tailored marketing solutions to aid a client’s business growth prospects. Their core service provides clients with access to:
- business start-up guides, regulations, licences and training
- market research reports and demographic information
- business-to-business marketing lists
- credit reports
- grant and funding information
Businessline has worked with partners including the Federation of Small Businesses (Wrexham), The Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, The Job Centre, Working Links, Glyndwr University, Coleg Cambria, Business Wales and Wrexham Economic Development Department, all of which refer clients to make use of the business support services available via Wrexham library service on a regular basis.
Businessline as a service is both proactive and innovative, as a number of new initiatives have been launched over the past 4 years, all with the aim of strengthening the local economy and increasing enquiries. A number of services also offer a means of income generation.
The group provides businesses with a cost effective means of raising their business profile, gaining knowledge and feedback, forming new connections, developing relationships and creating opportunities. These are all essential to ensuring the future development and success of a business. Over the course of the group’s first year a profit of £1,260 was generated.
Virtual Wrexham is an online shopping destination for the Wrexham area, raising awareness of local businesses selling online via a virtual high street. This initiative aims to provide a convenient buy local scheme, to keep money within and bring money into the Wrexham economy. Another key aim of the project is to effectively assist businesses raise additional finances which they could invest into their own shop. In turn, bringing more independent retailers back to the town and creating a more vibrant high street.
New business in particular often struggle to identify the most cost effective local promotional opportunities. As many individuals have never marketed their own business before, raising awareness and attracting sales can be difficult. Businessline launched an advertising pack which highlights local community magazines offering advertising opportunities, community radio stations, sponsorship opportunities, newspapers and local websites, etc. The resource both saves businesses time and allows SMEs to identify the broad range of advertising options which are available before making any advertising investments.
Their business-to-business scheme aims to keep money within and attract money into the Wrexham economy. As well as both new and existing businesses benefiting from discounts offered by local companies, the companies offering discounts benefit from a cost effective means of raising their profile.
Businessline mailing list
The Businessline mailing list was created to offer a cost efficient means of keeping clients up to date with opportunities within the local area together with useful business news. Each month subscribers receive a monthly email containing:
- the Businessline monthly newsletter (in which they offer free article space and advertising opportunities)
- details of the business events taking place within the local area during the upcoming month
- an overview of the networking events taking place in Wrexham over the course of the month
Through developing a list of 400 plus local businesses (to date) that are keen to keep up-to-date with local business events, they are now able to offer companies running business focused events in the local area both a free and paid for means of raising awareness of their event.
Over the years Businessline have co-ordinated a number of self-financing and profit making events, bringing some of the UK’s leading business speakers to Wrexham, including some high profile events.
This featured presentations from both Andrew Davis (a social media expert) and Adrian Webster (a motivational speaker). The event also featured around 50 trade stand exhibitors, a networking session and a prize package worth in excess of £1,500. Overall the event generated an income of £5,145 and a profit of around £600.
Ignite your Business 2012 featuring a digital marketing presentation from Ross Sleight; co-founder of Virgin Games and Chief Strategy officer of Somo (the third fastest growing digital media company in Europe, correct at the time of the event). The event generated a profit of around £500.
In 2011 there was a week long programme of 32 events, which included a number of leading business speakers, such as Chris Hughes, branding and marketing specialist, who has held senior and board positions with companies such as Mars, Pillsbury UK, Prince Sportsgroup UK and Dunlop Slazenger. The event generated a profit of £162.
Businessline also offer assistance to businesses looking to run an event in the local area.
In 2011 Businessline relaunched their website attracting a 93% increase in unique visitor figures, visitor numbers were maintained in 2012 and rose further 60% in 2013.They also attracted around 7,000 enquiries from roughly 800 clients during 2015.
Client feedback can be found on their testimonials web-page.
Future plans include:
The launch of a business mentoring service, allowing new businesses in particular to identify experienced local entrepreneurs who are willing to share their knowledge, expertise and skills on a cost free basis, with a view to strengthening the local economy and improving business survival rates.
Running regular business start-up workshops covering areas such as effective marketing and managing finances etc.
The launch of B2B Wrexham, which will aim to provide new start-ups in particular with an easy means of contacting local service providers of interest i.e. website designers, graphic designers, virtual assistants. All local service providers will be eligible to register to receive emails from clients using the system to specify their requirements, budget etc. As well as helping to keep money within the local economy which could assist businesses to grow and create additional employment opportunities, the service users will also save a great deal of time compared to contacting each service provider individually, explaining their requirements and budget numerous times.
We plan to hold a business conference in association with the Federation of Small Businesses later in 2016 together with a series of events as part of Start-up Europe Week.
Having set-up the 360 Networking group we are investigating the prospect of rolling this out to other local authorities, providing them with a means of generating income. By licensing the database we have created to manage membership renewals forms and letters automatically, manage meeting bookings, compile various statistics, apply discounts to membership fees where applicable, we would also be able to increase our income.
We are researching the prospect of launching a permanent pop-up shop, which will allow home based retailers to occupy a cost efficient high-street presence within Wrexham, from which they can grow and develop their business. The ultimate aim of this initiative would be for businesses to progress to the stage where they are able to launch their own high-street shop.