Start a Business Programme Chalks Up 5,000th New Business

Two Mallusk entrepreneurs have set up the 5000th new business to be started through the Start a Business programme, which has generated an estimated 8,250 new jobs across Northern Ireland.

Oliver McErlane took part on the programme with business partner Tim Swann, before setting up their electronic marketing company, TxtFlow. Both are experienced web application developers and aim to help smaller businesses run marketing campaigns via e-mail or by using mobile phone messaging.

Oliver McErlane comments: “TxtFlow will be different from its competitors because we will put the business owner in control. There will be no account managers running marketing campaigns for clients; instead the technology will enable companies to create and send their own messages by accessing a web browser.”

Oliver adds: “We found the Start a Business Programme to be excellent. It gave us a good grounding in all the key areas of running a business and helped us to clarify our ideas and approach to promoting the business. It’s also great to have the ongoing support of a business adviser to help in the early days of running a business, when things don’t always go according to plan!”

Graham Davis, Director of Local Economic Development in Invest NI comments: “We’re delighted to be marking the 5000th new business created through the Start a Business Programme. New business ventures generate wealth and employment for the Northern Ireland economy. Our Accelerating Entrepreneurship Strategy and related Go For It campaign is encouraging people to turn their business ideas into reality and as a result we’re seeing a steady increase in numbers interested in starting a business”.

The fundamental aim of the Start a Business Programme is to stimulate enterprise by supporting individuals to become entrepreneurs and provide them with professional advice from the idea generation stage through to when they first start trading and beyond.

The Programme offers an accredited advisory service provided by business advisors who work with business owners on a one-to-one confidential basis. Participants also take part in an entrepreneurship course comprising 10 modules focusing on sales and marketing, financial management, legal and statutory issues, ICT and general business practices. A financial planning service helps participants to decide how much money is needed to start the business and to explore all potential sources of funding.

The Start a Business Programme is part of a suite of services offered by Invest NI to assist Northern Ireland entrepreneurs create successful businesses operating in local, export and global markets.

The Start a Business Programme also offers participants a free web package to help them market their business on the World Wide Web. To date over 1,000 businesses have benefited from this.

The Start a Business Programme is free and is available right across Northern Ireland. It is delivered by Enterprise Northern Ireland through its member enterprise agencies in each district council area. It is funded by Invest NI, the 26 district councils and the European Regional Development Fund.