Cotton Court Business Centre

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Cotton Court Features in Lancashire Business View

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If you haven’t already picked up a copy, check out the latest edition of Lancashire Business View . Robert takes centre stage, discussing all things entrepreneurship in The Big Interview.

Amy also talks about the importance of a good first impression for a start-up business, and how this has changed in the new ‘online world’.

Plus we spotted plenty of other familiar faces in the magazine, discussing everything from funding to the future of workplaces!

The magazine is available to read online
https://www.lancashirebusinessview.co.uk/read-lbv94-online

Cotton Court welcomes Create Theatre Academy!

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We are looking forward to hosting Create Theatre Academy as they welcome back their students!

Who are Create Theatre?

Create Theatre Academy offers a unique training experience of the highest quality taught by industry professionals. Their mission at Create Theatre is to nurture talent and enhance performance skills with innovation and imagination. 

Create aim to build a strong foundation for their students so that they can succeed in reaching their full potential. They take pride in building student confidence, encouraging growth and creating a safe space for students to develop their skills in Musical Theatre and Acting. Create Theatre Academy are a triple threat school focussing on allthree disciplines, Acting, Singing and Dance, ensuring they bring to their students a wide range of knowledge in all areas of the industry.

Founded by Rebecca Eastham, Wesley Bromley and Alex May Roberts, who as a team of all working actors and creatives in the industry can provide a fresh and contemporary approach to our training, They pride themselves on being an inclusive and engaging place for individuals to embrace their own unique talents and skills.

Email : createtheatreacademy@gmail.com

Meet the team :

Wesley Bromley –

Wesley graduated from The Urdang Academy London with a distinction in Professional Musical Theatre and Dance. Wesley is currently working as a senior rehearsal director/ choreographer for talent artistic group/ tui sensatori international. 

 

 

Rebecca Eastham- 

Rebecca trained at the prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre London in Musical Theatre (BA Hons) as well as working as a professional actress. Rebecca has taught drama and musical theatre ( including lamda exams) in various schools across the North West.

 

 

Alex May Roberts –

Alex May Robertr trained at the University of Central Lancashire and graduated with a degree in Musical Theatre (BA Hons). She is currently working as a drama tutor and is a highly skilled vocal coach. Alex is a professional musical theatre performer and is represented by a top London agent. 

 

Small Business Tips for Surviving the Pandemic (by Laura Jeffers)

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We caught up with Start-Up Competition finalist and client, Laura Jeffers who shared some of her tips for small business survival during the pandemic.

It has been a crazy year to say the least! With well established businesses shutting down all around us it’s hard to stay hopeful. If you’ve made it this far, I guess you can say you’re one of the blessed ones! 

Honestly, there isn’t yet a fool proof guide to surviving a pandemic, but here are some tips that have helped me stay afloat in business during this crazy season. 

1. Adapt your services I’m a seamstress by trade, I make garments, it’s what I love to do. Although that’s the main focus of my business, I also sell smaller accessories, African print headwraps and Bow Ties that attract other customers. Someone proposed the idea of making Masks in African print fabrics. At the time I thought it was a bad idea, I wasn’t too crazy about it, but my options were limited so I gave it a try. Initially I created a DIY mask tutorial for my YouTube channel but to my surprise, instead of generating more video views, I had hundreds more sales. Now with masks being a compulsory item in the UK, it was one of the best decisions I made for my business.

2. Keep expenses to a minimum – Last year I actually launched a second clothing brand – Stay Lit Apparel. Initially I was printing the garments locally and shipping from my studio. Although it kept costs low, I found it took a while for the garments to reach the customers, especially when the printing service was delayed or unreliable. At this point I considered buying in bulk but as it wasn’t feasible for my business at the time I researched other methods of t-shirt printing. I came across a local drop shipping company. They print the garments according to my specifications and ship them directly to the customer which also means I don’t have to hold stock. During this pandemic that has been a blessing as I haven’t had major overheads or stacks of apparel stock to shift. This has been one of the ways I’ve been able to keep business costs low and keep my brand going.

3.Tap into support where possible – The government have been offering grants for eligible small businesses. I do realise however that not everyone qualifies for this support. On doing some research I have seen that there are other initiatives being put in place to help small businesses thrive and stay afloat during lock down. It’s wise to do your research, find out what is available to you and be willing and ready to accept the support if you need it. 

4.Utilise free advertising and social media networking groups – Don’t underestimate the power of social media. My masks wouldn’t have reached as many people as they did if those who initially purchased had not shared their masks with others. It’s free for your friends, family and existing customers to share something about your brand on social media. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews and feedback. In addition to this, there are also many groups on platforms like Facebook, that you can join, to network with other small businesses in a similar situation to you. These groups provide great support and that much needed community spirit.

5.Use your time wisely – They say time is money, so make sure you use yours wisely. Why not pick up a new skill, develop in an area that can either aid your business or even develop into another one. Invest in yourself! Do something you’ve never had the time to do, spend more time with your family, try to enjoy this season even though it’s hard. 

6.Create a new normal – Try not to dwell on the past and focus on what you have lost. Instead take time to plan the future, what that might look like and how you can move forward. 

7.Don’t give up, ask for help – Last but not least don’t give up! There is always support out there to help you create the future you dream of. Life is too short sit back and do nothing. If you need help and support, get in touch with business organisations that can offer that support to you. Cotton court are on hand to help small businesses like yours thrive and grow. Take advantage of their knowledge and services. You have come so far; you owe it to yourself to not give up! 

I hope these business tips have been helpful. What have been the pros and cons of this pandemic for your business? Let us know in the comments below.

This blog post was written by Laura Jeffers a fashion designer from Preston. She currently runs two businesses, Asikara (,a African clothing and accessories fashion label) and Stay Lit Apparel (,a Christian clothing brand). If you would like to find out more about her you can follow her via the links below.

Asikara by Laura Jane – African Fashion, Headwraps & Accessories  

Www.asikarabylaurajane.co.uk

Www.instagram.com/asikarabylaurajane

Www.facebook.com/asikarabylaurajane

Stay Lit Apparel – Christian Clothing Brand

Www.staylitapparel.co.uk

Www.instagram.com/staylitapprel.co

Www.facebook.com/Staylitapparel.co

 

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The Big PNE Sleepout

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Friday 15th November saw a team of us from Cotton Court take part in the Big PNE Sleepout. The event was organised by Preston North End in the Community, Blog Preston and BIFFA who have joined with The Foxton Centre – a Preston based charity celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019.

Whilst we had time to prepare for this challenge, it wasn’t what we had expected and was much tougher than we initially thought.

We joined around 300 others who were also taking part, in the concourse at the stadium where we were handed a piece of cardboard that would act as our ‘bed’ for the night.

 

At first, it seems almost exciting to be able to take part in something that you wouldn’t usually find yourself doing. However, as the night goes on this challenge becomes exactly that and it is a hard one. The home comforts that we regularly take for granted like a comfy pillow and a nice mattress are missed. You may feel tired but to find that position that you are comfortable enough to sleep in without the luxuries that we are accustomed to is very difficult. The neck aches and back aches begin and it makes it somewhat impossible to sleep. On top of that you are battling with the cold!

 

When you do finally manage to drift off to sleep you are constantly tossing and turning meaning that you aren’t actually getting the sleep required in order to be able to feel satisfied.

This really highlighted for us what those that are homeless have to endure and on a much tougher scale. This helped us all stick it out despite some of us wanting to leave at points, because we knew that these people don’t have that choice.

It was a real eye opener being able to experience the sleepout and we are so very grateful to all of the organisers and everyone who supported us and donated. We were aiming as a team to raise £1000 and to date we have raised £1193 so a huge thank you to all of you. We sincerely hope that this money can contribute to making a difference in Preston where homelessness is a major issue.

The Sleep Out had a target of £50,000 to raise for The Foxton Centre’s Housing First scheme and has already exceeded this in online donations. 

You can have a look at our photos from the event here:

https://bit.ly/2O4PdVs

Natwest Events 26th November 2019

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We are excited to be hosting the Back Her Business workshop on Tuesday 26th November in partnership with NatWest and Crowdfunder. The event will teach entrepreneurs all about how crowdfunding works, and how crowdfunding in general and Back Her Business, in particular, can be an effective way to get your new business up and running.

These events are a must-attend for an idea or early-stage businesses and entrepreneurs that are serious about growth!

By joining the session you’ll learn about:

  • The importance of female entrepreneurship to society
  • The Rose Review
  • Back Her Business: how people can access it and the Bank’s role
  • What crowdfunding is, and all about Crowdfunder
  • Benefits of crowdfunding, including Back Her Business match funding
  • How to crowdfund

The event is free to attend, but registration is essential:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/back-her-business-preston-turning-ideas-into-businesses-free-event-tickets-74804100077

Hope to see you there!

Northern Powerhouse Lancashire #PowerUp!

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We were delighted to host the Northern Powerhouse Lancashire #PowerUp conference yesterday. We took away some really useful information about how businesses can access the best support available to help them to grow! Attendees benefited from the advice of panel members Sue Barnard (Senior Manager, British Business Bank), Ben Hookway (CEO, Relative insight), Andrew Leeming (Boost Programme Manager, Boost Business Lancashire), Will Salt (Senior Policy Adviser, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)) and Andy Mann (Director and Group Editor, The Samuel James Group.) The event discussed business support and how such organisations can help companies access the most relevant, best support available to grow the Lancashire economy and support local businesses!
The Northern Powerhouse is the government’s vision for a super-connected, globally-competitive northern economy with a flourishing private sector, a highly-skilled population, and world-renowned civic and business leadership.
The North has a long history of innovation, influencing the fortunes of the country and the face of the industry further afield. Today’s global industry trends are driving new opportunities for growth and the Northern Powerhouse is working to help you harness their potential to benefit your business.  

NPIF is a collaboration between the British Business Bank and ten Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the North West, Yorkshire, the Humber and Tees Valley. NPIF provides over £400m of investment to boost small and medium business (SME) growth in the North of England. Funding options which are available include; Microfinance, Debt Finance and Equity Finance.
If you are a small business that is looking for support get in touch and we can point you in the right direction #growinglancashire  

PowerUp

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What does the Northern Powerhouse mean to your business?

The North has a long history of innovation, influencing the fortunes of the country and the face of industry further afield. Today’s global industry trends are driving new opportunities for growth and the Northern Powerhouse is working to help you harness their potential to benefit your business.

The time is NOW, so lets PowerUP!

Register for your free place today for a Northern PowerUP information and networking event near you to find out more about how the Northern Powerhouse is fuelling and supporting the growth of small and mid-sized commerce in your area. Hear from neighbouring businesses that have benefitted, and about support initiatives through your Local Enterprise Partnership.

  • LANCASHIRE, Tuesday 25th June

Cotton Court, Preston, PR1 3BY

Agenda

9.30am – Registration and coffee

9.50am – PowerUP panel and Q&A

11am – Networking

11.30am – Close

Speakers

Speakers include representatives of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, Local Enterprise Partnership and your business community.

Register for your free place now!

Pitching secrets to be revealed at upcoming event

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Budding and established entrepreneurs from across Lancashire are invited to learn about creating the perfect pitch.

NatWest will be holding a pitching-based taster session for its Pre-Accelerator programme at Cotton Court Business Centre, Preston. The session will coincide with the Cotton Court Start-Up Competition which sees entrepreneurs from across the Red Rose County pitching for a chance to win everything they need to start, build and expand their business.

Heather Waters, Enterprise Manager at NatWest, said: “During our Pre-Accelerator taster session, we will teach participants our award-winning pitch structure which enables entrepreneurs to confidently and effectively present their business in any given situation. Pitching is absolutely vital for skill any new business and having the confidence to deliver a good pitch can make or break a business opportunity.”

Robert Binns, Director of Cotton Court Business Centre, said: “Being able to shout about your business and tell your story is invaluable to any business person and this course will give people the opportunity to learn first hand how to accomplish this.”

Later this summer NatWest will be bringing its full Pre-Accelerator workshop to Cotton Court. The session is designed for early-stage businesses looking at ways to grow and enhance their business ideas. The programme is part of NatWest’s three-stage business accelerator scheme which is delivered across the UK.

The pitching event is on Tuesday, May 6 at the Cotton Court Business Centre from 10am to 11.30am. To register visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pitching-masterclass-tickets-60302903608

Preston wins back talent from Manchester to support growth 

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Preston based group of companies hires new Interim Marketing Director to support local growth  

 

The Preston based group that operates Cotton Court Business Centre and operates a number of leisure, tech and property businesses, has appointed an Interim Marketing Director on a 6-month agreement to support a period of growth & development.  

Jack Barron, who is originally from Preston, joins the group after a number of years living and working in Manchester. The 30-year-old initially moved to Manchester to pursue a career within a city centre media agency, working his way to becoming a director in the company, and achieving his Masters from Manchester Metropolitan University.  He broke away last year to set up his own consultancy business, specialising in helping small to medium sized businesses, a business he still operates across Lancashire & Greater Manchester. 

“I couldn’t be happier taking on this role with the Cotton Court Group. There are a wide variety of businesses within the portfolio for me to get stuck into and do good work for, but I’m especially looking forward to working on the Cotton Court Business Centre side of things. My passion is helping SME’s, which aligns perfectly with what Cotton Court have been doing for many years.” The former UCLan student said. 

 

“There’s loads going on at Cotton Court in the very near future with the pods being built, expansion of our service offering, the free events and resources we’re running for small businesses and a number of things that haven’t been announced yet. It’s not just a period of growth for Cotton Court, it’s a period of growth for Preston. You only have to look at the recent investment in the City Centre and Queens retail park. I’m glad to be back and to be a part of it.” He continued. 

 

 

The Cotton Pods are a new development at the Church Street site, announced in September of this year. Utilising specially adapted shipping containers to increase the overall capacity of the site, they’re expected to be in operation early in the new year.  

Managing Director Robert Binns comments “Since the conversion of Cotton Court into a business centre, we’ve been the catalyst for a significant number of start-up businesses. We don’t intend to stop doing that any time soon, but in order for us to help more businesses we need more capacity. That’s what these pods will offer. As well as being responsible for helping us with our growth, one of Jack’s responsibilities will be to help steer the growth of our customers and other local businesses. Having worked with him before over the years, I’m confident we’ve got the right man for that job.” 

 

Big Plans: How the Cotton Pods will look at the Church Street site

Cotton Pods: Another angle

Big media hubs such as Manchester and London have historically been responsible for taking much of the young talent out of the smaller towns and cities such as Preston. The recent development and investment into Preston could prove to be a turning point for retaining & attracting that talent. The Cotton Court Group aims to build on that more by funneling new Manchester based talent through its new Media City office on Salford Quays, and back towards its other businesses in Preston. 

“It’s very positive news to learn about Cotton Court’s expansion plans.  As a city we’ve already seen the business centre grow and develop to support many fledgling businesses and the wider city community.  The organisation has actively embraced city life and are exemplary in their corporate social responsibility strategy.  2018 will be an exciting year for the city and it’s great that businesses like Cotton Court are pushing from the front to add value to Preston’s city centre” said Mark Whittle, Manager at Preston Business Improvement District. 

Already in post, Jack has started work on a number of important projects. “I’ve really hit the ground running thanks to the support of Robert and the team. I think it’s especially nice and certainly reflective of the group ethos, that my first project was working on the Barnardo’s Christmas Toy Appeal and the next one was involvement in a free event for local entrepreneurs and business owners. I’m looking forward to working across the group portfolio but especially working with local small businesses to help them develop & grow alongside the rest of the City”. 

 

 

19th Century Mill: Still home to hard working Lancastrian’s

 

Cotton Court is an old 19th Century Mill, providing incubation for start-ups and services for small to medium sized businesses. It provides physical office space, hot desks and conference space, as well as virtual & administrative services. It acts as the flagship business and headquarters for the Cotton Court Services group, which boasts a portfolio of leisure, property, tech and social enterprise operations.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Cracking on with it’ in business

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Over the years we’ve been in business, we’ve developed a reputation as being the ‘go to’ guys for advice, or just to run ideas by. Our team is powered by a wide variety of disciplines, so we’re usually in a good position to help. The only thing that really holds us back is time.

Like most people in business, time can sometimes feel like it’s working against us. The hours in the working day fly by, and sometimes it feels as though you haven’t completed half of what you needed to get done. It can be frustrating, stressful and bad for business.

When people come and ask us for our advice or just to pick our brains, we always have the good intention of helping, but sometimes our complicated relationship with time gets in the way and we just aren’t able to.

We don’t like disappointing our friends and colleagues, so we’ve been thinking of ways that we can help as many people as we can, whilst not affecting all our essential tasks. We’ve decided to team up with Kennedy Ross Consulting to tackle that problem, and bring you a series of FREE events hosted at Cotton Court Business Centre. 

The events are aimed at helping business owners, managers or even just people thinking about starting a business overcome the main issues they face, and the main barriers to just ‘cracking on with it’ in business practice.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re currently on our Christmas Card list, an existing Cotton Court Customer or we’ve never had the pleasure of meeting. The ‘Cracking on with it’ events are free and open to anyone looking to be more productive, improve their business and develop their skills. 

The first event is just around the corner, with limited spaces filling up fast. If you want to further your skills and develop your business, sign up free of charge now. The first event is focused on a truly universally applicable skill, getting along with people. 

Relationships are just as important in business as they are in your personal life, and getting off on the right foot can make a marked difference in your businesses success. The event titled “Getting along with everyone within the first seven seconds” promises to be an insightful, fun and useful session, that is already generating lots of interest.

Click HERE to register your interest (opens in a new window)

 

or call us on 01772 507 767

 

We look forward to seeing you there!