Fear of the unknown can be a big barrier for people considering self-employment but, as Louise Joachim can testify, the Outset programme can remove this fear by helping new businesses to navigate the terrain.
Made redundant in April 2013, Louise Joachim claimed Jobseekers Allowance and applied for many jobs without success. She took this as a sign that she was meant to be her own boss, grabbed the opportunity to follow her passion for floristry, and decided to set up Wendy House Flowers from a workshop at home.
Armed with a strong idea, Louise knew what she wanted to achieve but didn’t know where to start when it came to setting up her business. She found out about the free support service offered by Outset Swindon at her local Jobcentre, and immediately booked on to the Business Start Up course.
“The Outset workshops made everything seem much clearer and a lot less scary”, says Louise. “They took the mystery and confusion out of setting up my own business, so now I am more confident with my accounts and putting proposals together.”
Outset also guided Louise through preparing her business plan, ensuring that she felt confident about how to proceed at every stage. She was practical in her outlook and expectations, and knew it was going to be a slow burn but that was exactly what she wanted.
“The content covered in the Outset programme is perfectly matched with the staff who deliver it. I found the modules easy to follow and the mentors had so much knowledge and experience to pass on.“
Although Louise advertises herself as a freelance florist, she also offers event planning, hire services, floral arrangements and landscape design and maintenance. Her previous work experience allows her to provide a one-stop shop for customers, who range from the general public to corporate businesses and charitable organisations.
Whatever the occasion, Louise aims to offer something unique for everyone at affordable prices. She has formed strong relationships with local businesses, schools, charities and community projects and it’s this focus which sets her apart from her competition. “My business has always been about giving back to the community and I get the best job satisfaction from knowing I’m helping others”.
Being self-employed has also given Louise the flexibility to get involved with local organisations such as Swindon Young Carers, Swindon’s stillbirth and neonatal death charity SANDS, the Central Community Centre and Swindon railway station, which has a small garden. She also teaches flower arranging at afterschool clubs.
Business growth will be Louise’s next challenge as she will eventually need more space, and Outset Swindon will be there to support and guide her on the next step of her journey. “There are so many fantastic things coming up that I hope to see my business in the top 10 florists in Swindon by 2015,” says Louise. She would love to be a candidate for Wiltshire Business of the Year one day too.