Spark lights up business ambition
6th June 2013
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Spark, the Harborough initiative set up to generate jobs, encourage entrepreneurialism and boost the local economy, has fired into life with its first programme of free workshops aimed at helping businesses start out, create commercial success or take a growth step.

The interactive sessions, led by expert business leaders and consultants with many years’ experience at the helm of successful companies, will address essential topics for business success. This will include the development of an internet strategy to drive business development, increasing sales, franchising and, for those yet to take the plunge, everything you need to know before starting a business.

Each workshop will be followed by the opportunity to book a one-to-one session with the consultant to get support and advice on any issues or opportunities specific to the business plan.   

The first workshop, covering internet marketing as a way of boosting sales, takes place at Harborough Innovation Centre at 10am on Thursday 13th June and will be led by web consultant Richard Dennison. It will include practical demonstrations on developing an internet strategy, generating new business via digital marketing techniques, understanding and maximising SEO and the integration of a social media strategy that delivers and a return on investment.

The following workshops, also held at the Centre, are:

Exploring a franchising strategy – 8.30am, Thursday 20th June

Selling – what you absolutely must know! – 9am, Wednesday 26th June

Getting started in business – 9am – Wednesday 3rd July


Rachel Panther of Oxford Innovation is running Spark on behalf of Harborough District Council, which owns Harborough Innovation Centre.

“We are delighted that the Spark momentum continues to build and are excited to be hosting the first of our Spark events at the centre. These free workshops and mentoring sessions have been crafted in response to requests from Harborough companies so we’re delighted to be addressing those issues in this reactive and positive way. 

“They also present a rare opportunity for participants to discuss matters specific to their business with an expert in the field, and with further workshop programmes planned over the next six months, we are confident that they will make a tangible difference to the success of both our current and blossoming local companies,” she added.

Among those who have already signed up to benefit from the expertise on offer is Elizabeth Cave of Pure Accounting; “Having just recently set up my business, developing a sales and marketing strategy that I feel comfortable with is high on my agenda. There is so much theoretical information out there on sales and marketing that it is really difficult to identify, or indeed have the vision to identify, which techniques will be best for my business.

“I'm really looking forward to talking to an expert directly and getting specific ideas that will definitely work for me,” she added.

For more details about, or to book a place on, the interactive and practical workshops, or to learn more about the ways in which Spark can help you and your business to succeed, please visit the dedicated website -

Spark – which runs until December 2013 – offers the following:

  • A dedicated website. For budding entrepreneurs this is providing guidance on what to focus on first and the critical steps to starting a business. For those already running their own businesses there is advice and information on how to scale and build value in a business from a group of successful business leaders with experience of doing just that in both small and large global organisations.
  • Business mentoring. In conjunction with Oxford Innovation’s team of business coaches and advisors, business leaders from across the region are supporting existing and budding entrepreneurs.
  • Workshops and surgeries. A full programme of events is running at the Harborough Innovation Centre, focusing on everything from finding customers, marketing and social media to finance, managing profitable growth and business planning.
  • The Spark Business Innovation Competition. Details will be provided via the website in September, with the best new innovators and business expansion plans to be judged and winners unveiled in December.

To lend your support, to sponsor or to find out more about Spark, log on to the website

Key Background Facts

  • Only 3% of start-ups grow to 10 employees after 10 years and over half new businesses fail in the first year.
  • Over 99% of UK companies employ between 1 and 49 staff and small businesses represent 48% of the UK’s employment market.
  • 455,000 new businesses were started up in the UK in 2011
  • Only 295,000 of these were outside London. The majority were set up in urban areas and major cities.


About the Author

Carol M

Member since: 10th July 2012

Shy retiring (!) red-head from south Leics working hard to showcase everything great about our towns and villages. Loves her son, her man & Bruce Springsteen!

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