So, if you’re sitting on a great idea, maybe it’s time to make your business dream a reality?
At the end of the programme of workshops the strongest business ideas earn the chance to reach ‘The Boardroom’ final. It’s there that they pitch for an investment of up to £5,000 towards their business start-up costs and a year’s worth of one-to-one mentoring. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t make the finals - everyone who completes the course becomes a member of the renowned Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE).
As with everything in 2020, Covid-19 threw a spanner in the works last year. But that didn’t stop us finding a way to go ahead, even if it meant delaying the event so we could find a safer way to make it happen.
We spoke to Donna, one of our finalists who pitched for a £4,000 investment in her business Lash Amorė – an eyelash extension salon and training hub.
“I wanted to start my own training school to give the best support, mentoring and career opportunities to future professionals”, says Donna.
“I have over 12 years’ industry experience that I wanted to share; plus I loved the thought of being my own boss!
Free professional help
“I’d started Lash Amorė 6 months earlier so it was still early days, and here was an email saying I could get free, professional help to develop my business and have a chance to pitch for up to £5,000 investment – I couldn’t say no!”
After signing up, Donna attended the twice-monthly Saturday workshops at our Ealing office between September 2019 and March 2020, developing a revised business plan under the guidance of our expert trainers.
“Although my business had already started, I hadn’t realised how much planning I still needed to do to make it a success in the future,” Donna explained. “The programme really opened my eyes to every little detail that I had to consider.”
A spanner in the works
Donna made it to the semi-final stage in January 2020 and successfully qualified for the boardroom final which was scheduled for late March. But then the Covid-19 pandemic put the immediate future of the programme in doubt.
“I was so happy to make it to the boardroom final and give myself the opportunity to pitch for an investment and then suddenly, everything stopped!” Donna explained.
“At the time, myself and the other finalists didn’t know how or even if we would get the chance to present our businesses, it was heart breaking.
“It was incredible how well the final was adapted to the pandemic by the A2Dominion team,” said Donna.
“By September, using Zoom to communicate was the new normal and the revised format gave us all an extra communication skill that we didn’t know we needed when the programme started.”
A dream come true
Donna’s online pitch at September’s boardroom final was flawless, with the judging panel praising not only her business plan but also the unique beauty products she had created to support her teaching.
“I was naturally quite nervous before I went on to pitch but it could not have turned out any better,” said Donna.
“To achieve a £4,000 investment was a dream outcome that made the long, anxious wait for the final worth it in the end.”
“It’s really exciting to see where Lash Amorė is heading and I’m determined to make it a success despite these difficult times for small businesses,” said Donna. “I want to make my two daughters proud and show them that women are strong and capable, and that the world is their oyster if they strive for success.”
What about you?
So, does Donna have any advice for A2Dominion customers thinking about taking part in the next Enterprise programme?
“Absolutely do it! I’ve had the best journey ever and the support from everyone involved in the programme has been epic! I can’t thank the team involved enough and can honestly say that without their expertise, I don’t know where my business would be today.”
Since successfully appearing in the final, Donna has continued to develop Lash Amorė and will be opening a new salon and training hub in West Drayton in early 2021.
If you’re an A2Dominion customer with a business idea, then we have a dedicated team to help you take it to the next level. Simply get in touch with our Community Investment team. Good luck!