Apprentice star Neil Clough joins 12 Altrincham businesses at launch of start-up support group

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Former Apprentice star Neil Clough was in Altrincham last night to help launch a new initiative that aims to give the town’s start-ups the support required to be successful.

Start-Up Business Services (SUBS) brings together a range of local service providers, from a bank to an IT company, who will act as a one-stop shop for local entrepreneurs who have taken the leap and set up their own business.

The brainchild of David Bellin, himself a local entrepreneur as MD of The Web Studio, SUBS is intended to combat alarming statistics that suggest up to eight out of every 10 start-ups will fail within the first 18 months.

Clough, who enjoyed a brief fling with celebrity last year as one of the aspiring businessmen and women to be put through their paces by Lord Sugar on BBC1’s The Apprentice, is himself now a start-up business owner with Hale-based NWC Consultancy.

He told Altrincham Today why the new initiative was necessary.

“I didn’t start a business for many years because of that fear of failing and the risk of leaving a job,” he said. “I was lucky enough to do the Apprentice and get a lucky break to launch a business.

“Events like tonight bring together successful businesses that start-ups can learn from, and I’m really passionate about that because advice is key – you can’t be a master of everything when you start a business, so get advice from people who know what they’re doing.”

Start-Up Business Services – Local partners

Tax Assist
McHale & Co
The Web Studio
Marketing Profile
Altrincham HQ

Martin Hambleton
Insure Risk
Hale Communications
Lifestyle Therapy
Bowdon Business Group

Clough said his main piece of advice to start-ups would be to network with people with complementary skills.

“I’ve worked in sales for 15 years and I could talk all day to another salesman – but I’m probably not going to learn too much,” he added. “If I talk to accountants, lawyers, solicitors or whoever, I can learn a hell of a lot.”

Founder Bellin said the absence of a similar service when he was starting his business had inspired him to launch SUBS.

“I was told to fill out a business plan and phone up Business Link, and all they would do was redirect me to reams and reams of information. Sometimes all you want to do is ask somebody ‘should I do this?’ and why.

“So Start-Up Business Services is about engaging useful, helpful advice to start-ups that can’t get it anywhere else. Rather than writing emails to lots of people, some people prefer to pick up the phone and speak to a human being, and that is the mentality we’ve got.

“We’d like it to eventually become synonymous, so that when people think of a start-up they think of Start-Up Business Services, specifically in the Altrincham area.”

The team of partners will be offering one-to-one consultations and taking part in a range of events including mentoring, workshops and Q&As.

First up will be a free event at the Cresta Court on November 13th. Local start-ups are also invited to register on the initiative’s website.

In attendance at the launch party at Altrincham Town Hall last night was Cllr Sean Anstee, the leader of Trafford Council.

He said: “Altrincham is the jewel in Trafford’s crown, so we need to make sure that with the market, the interchange, the hospital, the library, the public realm works and everything that’s going on, people can take advantage of it. If we can get to a point where people feel they can more easily start businesses in Altrincham and Trafford, then that would be a good thing.”

Below (top to bottom): Neil Clough and David Bellin with Cllr Sean Anstee and Philippa Wright from launch sponsors McHale & Co; founder David Bellin; Neil Clough; attendees at the Town Hall launch; local business partners

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Images: Martin Hambleton

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