Start Up Loans has delivered more than 4,100 loans to business owners in Wales since 2012, providing over £40m funding, in-line with the country’s percentage of the UK’s business population.
Entrepreneurs often dream of opening a business for months, or even years, before they take the leap and set the process in motion. In every business owner’s life, there comes a moment when they say “Yes” and make the decision to work toward becoming a successful business owner.
The timing of that crucial decision point, and the journey to get there, is different for everyone. It can be a moment when they decide to apply for funding, to create a website, or draft up a business plan. For budding entrepreneurs looking to take their first step into the world of business ownership, however big or small, that vital ‘Yes’ moment can be life-changing.
Here, a business owner from Wales who took out a government-backed Start Up Loan share what that ‘Yes’ moment looked like for them, how they got to that point, and how it felt, to inspire others who might be considering starting a business in 2022.
Aoife Doherty set up her business in November 2020 after graduating from the University of Reading with a BA Hons in Graphic Design.
After noticing a gap in the market for eco-friendly stationery, she decided to take out a Start Up Loan of £9,000 to launch Floris – her own zero-waste stationery company based in Cardiff. She used the funding to help support the manufacturing of her products and design tools.
With a natural flair for creativity, she wanted to harness the skills she learnt at university and turn them into a business. In the initial phase of developing her business, she had a stall at a local market, but because of the restrictions and lockdowns she had to think on her feet about how she could keep growing her business in other ways. She decided to host an ‘online market’ through her website, which was a huge success.
Aoife Doherty, Founder of Floris, said: “I came up with the idea for Floris in university. When I graduated, with lockdown the job market wasn’t particularly good, so I just thought “Now is the time to go for it and just give it everything I’ve got. I’m never going to have another opportunity like this. Everyone’s online shopping, let’s just go for it.” I don’t have any regrets. This was the best decision I have ever made.”
Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start-Up Loans, said: “Delivering over 90,000 loans and providing £800 million of funding is a huge milestone for the programme and reflects the ambition and determination the nation’s small businesses have demonstrated over the past few years.”
“It’s brilliant to hear the stories of how Welsh business owners felt when they said ‘Yes’ to becoming their own boss. Our Ambassadors often tell us that, despite how nerve-wracking it may be to start a business, saying ‘Yes’ and firmly making the decision to go for it is half the battle.”
“Start Up Loans offer many great resources for entrepreneurs on the cusp of saying ‘yes’ to starting a business. Our pre-loan support package, and mentoring scheme once a loan has been provided, mean all recipients are supported during one of the most exciting, but daunting, decisions of their lives.”
Breakdown of loans by region
|UK Region||Loans Made||Amount Lent (£)||Average Loan Amount (£)|
|East of England||6,344||58,512,373||9,223|
|Isle of Man||2||10,000||5,000|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||7,803||72,509,654||9,293|
|Region not obtained||248||3,077,521||12,409|