Posted on Tuesday 9th February 2021
One of the first recipients of the county council’s Staffordshire Start-up Loan Scheme is using a long career in HR and recently mastered life coaching qualification to support people and business after launching her own company.
The scheme was launched last autumn – providing interest-free loans between £3,000 and £5,000 to people who had successfully completed the Staffordshire Start-up Support Programme or similar mentoring scheme. The support programme focuses on the county’s priority sectors and provides advice and guidance on a range of issues. It is administered by the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, while the loan scheme is delivered by the county council.
Rugeley-based Sarah Hodgson, an experienced HR professional who decided the time was right to launch her own business last summer. Her company, SJH Coaching Ltd, provides both life coaching and HR support to individuals and businesses, whether through a transformational programme, commitment to motivate and develop employees or personal development with careers and lifestyle decisions.
After finishing her last role as HR director for a logistics company, Sarah took the plunge and started the business. With her children grown up and downsizing the family home, she decided it was the right time.
I’m passionate about supporting and helping people. My ability to combine the skills and experience of wearing ‘two hats’ borne from two intrinsically linked professions, provides quantifiable reassurance.
On the HR consultancy side of the business, I can support any SME management teams with business strategies, including offering any HR assistance as required. “Wearing my ‘coaching hat’, I’ll help anyone dealing with issues during adversity such as personal career progression, career performance, relationships, anxiety, and far more.”
Sarah completed a master practitioner course in life coaching and despite a lifetime career in HR, running her own business presented a huge challenge.
I was coming into this as a complete novice in terms of building my own business. I made the decision to start as a limited company and heard about the start-up support programme and loan scheme. The support has been fantastic – giving advice on areas such as marketing and legal which is a real weight off my shoulders. This and the loan have meant that I can really focus on the business using my own experience, positivity and determination.”
With a £5,000 loan, Sarah purchased a new laptop, software, faster internet service and a purpose-built coaching room in her new home. This is in addition to marketing, ongoing training and professional membership.
And while starting a business during a global pandemic is far from ideal, Sarah said this has presented her with positive challenges to help take her business forward. She added:
When Covid-19 hit, the impact on people’s lives has been immense for everyone in different ways. People are struggling with anxieties and fears for their personal and professional lives while many businesses are concentrating on just surviving.
We are at a stage now where people and businesses have learnt to think differently, and we can all apply our recent experiences going forward. I want to use my learnings to develop strategies helping others achieve their chosen lifestyle, career or personal goals and address any individual or SME business’s current needs in the timeliest, positive and most cost-effective manner.”
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said:
We launched a comprehensive range of support for start-up businesses to give them the backing they need to get through their critical early months and during an incredibly difficult time to launch a company. This is part of our wider Staffordshire Means Back to Business programme.
The start-up programme has been hugely popular as we anticipated, and our follow-on loan scheme is already making a difference. Sarah’s knowledge and experience combined with the advice and financial support we can provide is a fine example of how the programme should work. Through the pandemic we are seeing great determination and resilience as people have overcome challenges and sought new opportunities. We wish Sarah every success as she grows her business.”
Sarah can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about the Staffordshire Start-up Programme, the Staffordshire Start-up Loan Scheme and all other business advice, contact the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub at www.stokestaffsgrowthhub.co.uk or call 0300 111 8002.