Steve has a BSc in Hospitality Business Management with Conference and Events from Sheffield Hallam University. With a background in music performance and event production, he combined a local need for performance and exhibition space with a glut of vacant industrial premises. The solution was a social enterprise, CADS - Creative Arts Development Space, which Steve started in 2010.
I was interested in creative space due to my background in music performance and events production. There was a real need for this type of space as we were unable to find it ourselves and with so much unused industrial space it was clear we needed to bring it back to life. Our vision was to create suitable creative studios, exhibition and performance spaces that are flexible and affordable, with a policy of inclusiveness across the creative and digital industries.
From April 2009 we tested the concept whilst at university using the enterprise centres support services and on the university’s PYES (Placement Year Entrepreneurship Scheme). We then formally started trading in September 2010 as a social enterprise limited by shares (Newco model).
I funded the initial start-up with several sources: a family loan, some savings, proof of concept and seed corn grant funding from The Enterprise Centre. To secure these grants we had to attend an interview with as business adviser, fill in the application to ensure our ideas stood up and then bring in the receipts for reimbursement once we had spent the money.
The Hatchery, Sheffield Hallam’s business start-up service, provided us with a hot-desking office. Access to business advisors at The Enterprise Centre at the university was also invaluable. The business advisers cover all areas from business, legal, financial and social enterprise areas of our business so were helpful across the board. Their networking events which we attended were really helpful in addition to the people we met at the Hatchery, some of which our now our tenants at CADS.
We start at 10am by checking emails and handling immediate administration. We deal with viewings for potential new tenants and work on business development. We also spend time sourcing new funding and revenue such as applying for grants or working with people to develop further revenue streams whilst also maximising our current business area.
I am also typically on the road running errands and later helping to set up exhibitions or trouble-shooting equipment failure. My working day finishes with more administration at around 10pm.
I enjoy the varied workload and that each day brings new challenges but working on your own can be a challenge. You have to deal with all areas of the business and its operations. That means being responsible for all staff and tasks.
I would tell other graduates who want to start their own business to get experience in their sector/industry and research the business area. You need to make a business plan before starting any operations and make sure you get help and advice from your university enterprise centre.
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