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Company:Your Life in Your Hands


Creating a business and investing in the care for the health of others

After 30 years’ of working in as a professional medical practitioner, Shirley Powell spotted a gap in the market for a health and well-being business. So, she started up Your Life in Your Hands to provide mobile health screening, well-being assessments and mentoring in Suffolk. But having never run a business before she needed help to pull together a business plan, refine her offering and secure funding for the equipment she needed. Read on to find out how New Anglia Growth Hub’s advisers kick-started Shirley’s ambitions.

After more than 30 years working as a professional medical practitioner in a number of different roles in Suffolk and London, Shirley Powell decided that it was about time she started her own business.

Her experience helped her to spot a gap in the market – local health and well-being needs weren’t being met, especially amongst vulnerable and deprived groups. She recognised that most individuals did not have regular healthcare checks and some simply cannot access the local services they need.

Being passionate about health and well-being, Shirley decided that she would set up a business that would help people to live a positive, healthy lifestyle.

The business: Your Life in Your Hands

Shirley established Your Life in Your Hands to deliver mobile health and well-being assessments and provide ongoing mentoring through consultations with private individuals or in partnership with employers and community organisations in Suffolk.

The central aim is to arm individuals with the tools they need to take control of their lives, for both their physical and mental well-being and to enable them to enjoy a fulfilling, healthy and long life.

Shirley offers an initial diagnostic assessment testing for risk of heart disease, stroke, artery health, blood pressure, liver and kidney function as well as cholesterol and diabetes.  She also offers a lifestyle assessment and coaching to help people to cope with the mental stresses of modern living.

Her business model is structured so that the work she does commercially can help fund free health screening checks for individuals who are homeless or socially disadvantaged.

The issues Shirley faced in starting up

As a start-up, there were a number of challenges that Shirley faced.

First, she had to come up with a business plan. Having had no experience of doing this before it proved to be a quite daunting task.

Funding was another issue. Shirley needed to purchase the equipment she would need to carry out the assessments and set up a website to be able to promote her business.

And then there was marketing. How would she reach her target audience to articulate her offer?

What made Shirley turn to the Growth Hub?

Shirley did a lot of research when planning her start-up which included speaking to Business Link. They suggested that she speak to the Growth Hub to explore areas where it might be able to help.

Growth Hub help

Growth Hub adviser, William Miller, was the first to see Shirley’s plans for the business. Following an initial assessment, William helped her to refine the plan to capitalise on her huge experience and skill and that meant concentrating on health screening.

He also provided Shirley with a number of templates for her accounts and provided referrals to organisations who might want to use her services.

Another of the Growth Hub’s advisers, Robert Turnbull, met with Shirley to assist her in applying for funding from the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurship programme. Following a successful application, Shirley was invited to a Dragon’s Den style pitch event to present her case. Again, Robert worked closely with her to produce a hard-hitting presentation and coached her to deal with the tough questions the judges would ask. The result was that she secured £4,000 in grant funding.

When it came to marketing, Robert helped to raise her profile by nominating her for the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards at the Suffolk Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Awards 2017. She was a finalist which attracted valuable media coverage in the East Anglian Daily Times.

What impact did this have on getting the business off the ground?

Shirley explained, “The support I received from the Growth Hub was immense. From the outset, the advisers helped me establish sound business principles, identified areas of expertise I needed most help with and gave me the right tools to build really solid foundations.

“Always approachable, supportive and empathetic, they made great efforts to make sure I was able to implement their suggestions. They also provided me with great motivation, picking me up if I was feeling a little uncertain or unsure, reminding me of the importance of things like ‘follow-up‘ and being a sounding board for my thoughts and ideas.

“I would definitely recommend any start-up with a good business idea to ask the Growth Hub for help.”

The advisers’ views

William Miller said, “Shirley never lacked passion for her ideas but initially she wasn’t sure where to focus. We helped her to build a business plan that focusing on her core strengths. Potential barriers like funding, marketing, legal and accounts work were addressed and solutions found. With good plans in place Shirley grew in confidence about her business and is now starting to reap the rewards.”

Robert Turnbull said, “I worked closely with Shirley to develop her strengths into a viable business proposition.  The funding from the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurship programme was a vital cog in the mix that enabled Shirley to fast-track her launch plans. Business start-ups aren’t always certain of what financial and non-financial help is available which is where we come in – we have developed great networks that enable us to find funding from a variety of sources.”

If you have started a business but think you need some support to get it motoring then we’d love to hear from you. Pick up the phone and call us on 0300 333 6356 and we will put you in touch with one of expert advisers who’ll arrange to come and meet you to discuss your plans.

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