Louise Goult Textiles

Skills for Growth support helped Louise diversify and grow following the Pandemic.

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit Louise quickly realised that her business, Louise Goult Textiles, needed to diversify to generate a new income stream.

Having previously relied on face-to-face workshops and footfall to her base at Articentric in Saltburn, Louise introduced a new e-commerce website enabling her to sell online and also started selling textile kits for beginners and artists of all levels to use at home.

Louise received a Cultural Development and Innovation Fund grant from the Tees Valley Combined Authority to help introduce these changes, but she also needed more practical support and guidance to get to grips with the new digital skills she would need and to take the business forward.

Louise registered her interest in Skills for Growth, which offers impartial advice to help local SMEs access training and support to upskill employees and improve productivity.

We spoke to Louise about her experience of the Skills for Growth Programme.

What happens after you register for Skills for Growth?

After registering my interest in the support I was contacted by a Business Skills Advisor. We had a chat about my business – what I do, what the challenges are and where I’d like to go. It was a really useful conversation and easy to understand.

After that, I had a conversation with a Skills Development Officer. This was a deeper dive into my training needs. From there, the team drew up a recommended training programme for me. My particular needs were around digitising my business, marketing and business planning. I had an idea about where I wanted to go with my business but was nervous about taking those steps. The tailored plan I received was really easy to understand. They recommended a ‘Going for Growth’ course with Enterprise Made Simple.


After going through the diagnostic, were you surprised by any of the findings or advice?

Yes, I hadn’t realised how much the commitment to financial outlay had been holding me back. As my only source of income, I’m nervous about making financial commitments. Through the diagnostic, I realised that this has been holding me back. Through the Going for Growth Course, I received help in analysing investment risks, what to put money into and what not to invest in.


What did the course involve?

Going for Growth is a two-day course focussing on business planning, looking at the strengths and weaknesses of your business and marketing. There were 15 people in the cohort – most were from the creative and culture industries. We had facilitated group sessions and worked through a useful workbook. We had to come up with ideas for new income streams for our business. We worked through the ideas, looking at the positives and negatives and how to project financial income and expenditure and ensure that our business was sustainable. You could apply those principles to any project. I got a lot of good marketing tips. At the end of the course, I got a growth plan and a marketing plan.


Was the course useful?

The course was brilliant! It was completely free and I got a lot from it. When I’ve done courses in the past, often I’m the only creative business. It made a big difference being with other creative businesses. Through meeting at the course, some of the participants are now working with each other.  We’ve set up a WhatsApp group and keep in touch, sharing opportunities with each other.

It’s an accredited course so I’ve come away with a Level 2 certificate in Developing Enterprise Skills and a Level 1 Award in Digital Promotion for Business. I also received 12 hours of free business coaching as part of the course.


Would you do another course in the future?

I’m registered for another course called ‘Digital Hype’. This is a two-day course and will provide practical marketing skills.

Now that I’ve worked with Enterprise Made Simple, I can access other free courses with them too. I’m hoping to go on to complete the Going for Greater Growth course next which will have more focus on management.


What support did you receive from the Skills for Growth Team?

I’ve received really useful ongoing support from the Skills for Growth Team. They’ve checked in regularly in case I’ve had any problems in registering for the courses and to see how I was finding the course. If I needed anything in between or if my business needs changed, I could contact them at any time. There’s no end date or limit to the support.


What would you say to a business who is thinking of registering for Skills for Growth?

Go for it! The support I received was amazing. Often programmes like this feel like they’re for bigger businesses. It was great to be with like-minded people and businesses. It was so easy and accessible. All I had to do was provide a letter that confirmed I was self-employed and provide some photo ID.

About Skills for Growth

The Skills for Growth programme works in partnership with Teesside University and is supported by the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.


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