North Tyneside entrepreneur Chloe Hall explains, in the Journal, why having a young, female entrepreneur on the North of Tyne Growth Fund Panel is a good idea. The panel will review applications and award funds to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based in the region.
Pressing “submit” to officially declare my self-employed status in 2014 was one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life. Starting my own business aged 23 would feel as terrifying now as it did back then. I told myself (and anyone who would listen) that if I managed to survive three months in business I would be delighted. I felt like such a novice, I hadn’t the first clue about how to do a tax return or find clients and am sure I was not alone in feeling this. I do not come from a lineage of entrepreneurs. None of my family or friends ran their own business prior to me starting marketing consultancy Bumble and Bloom Media and I initially felt that my non-traditional background would be a hindrance. It turns out that sheer grit; perseverance and determination go a long way to make up for it.
In a few months I’ll turn 30 and in the years that have passed, my small business survived and even thrived. Bumble and Bloom Media has blossomed into a multi-award-winning marketing consultancy working with the world’s biggest brands. I’ve said yes to every opportunity possible over the years and done my very best to provide opportunities for others. Bumble and Bloom Media started in my bedroom whilst living at home. Just me and my laptop. Ironically, due to COVID, I am now back in my spare bedroom at home. Except this time, it’s my own home.
The catalyst for me becoming self-employed was being trapped in the vicious cycle of needing more experience to get onto the next step of a career in marketing but nobody being willing to give me the opportunity to gain more experience. I was fresh out of Newcastle University with a 2:1 in English Literature and 18 months of working in publishing under my belt but many of the city’s leading employers wanted to see more experience on my CV. Unsure of how or where to find it to solve the problem and escape the cycle, I decided to create my own opportunity.
I am delighted to say it led me here. Or, to be more specific: The North of Tyne Growth Fund Panel. The panel consists of fellow business experts and members of the public sector. It has been created to award vital funding to local SMEs. I’m proud that my hard work as a female entrepreneur has put me in the position to help other businesses, and at such a young age. Not bad for a working-class lass with a non-traditional background in business.
When I heard about the opportunity to join the panel, I knew my experience as a Trustee for local charities Newcastle Citizens Advice and North Tyneside Carers’ Centre would stand me in brilliant stead for reading and understanding financial documents, applications and the wider funding system. In my panel interview I argued that my experience of working with local ambitious start-ups and SMEs to global giants like Lindt, Crew Clothing and Jacobs Creek would help inform my thinking on the growth fund panel. I had no desire to leave the region after university. I wanted to live and work in the city I love. I am fiercely passionate about the North East and proud of the talent we have here. I want to play a part in making sure we develop and nurture it.
COVID-19 has hit businesses like me hard. Loss of income, cancelled events, changes to the way we work and the need to plan for operating in a post-lockdown world were all unexpected factors I’ve had to contend with and explore how they can be overcome. Knowing that someone on the panel is going through a similar situation and having to make the same difficult and unprecedented decisions as you are, I hope, instils a sense of confidence and peace of mind that small business owners have representation on the panel through me.
This project is part funded by the European Regional Development Programme 2014-2020.
Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regeneration’s. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.