A Fylde coast woman, no stranger to running a business from home, is seeing her new co-working centre idea for others take off.
Nikki Hesford started The Small Business Academy at Peel Hall Business Village in the former Charlie Bears nursery building in April.
Since then, scores of sole traders and small home-based firms have come forward to take advantage of the working spaces there and to meet like minded business owners.
The Small Business Academy has reacted to growing demand from freelance workers and small business owners operating from home. It providing an alternative to meetings in coffee shops and their residential address on business cards.
And, despite being just a few months old, the business has been nominated for a BIBAs award.
Managing director Nikki, who also runs Hesford Media, said: “As someone who has previously worked from home, I know it creates so many challenges while trying to grow your business.
"Lack of space for paperwork, nowhere to meet your clients, your home address all over the internet, not to mention when you’re alone all day –contributing to feelings of isolation that often play a key role in forcing many would-be entrepreneurs to jack it in and get a job.”
She said residents get to network every day with other businesses at the academy, to bounce ideas off each other, make use of the various services and even enjoy social events such as barbecues and after work drinks.
She said: “It’s like working in a big office.
“And, in addition to flexible working, we also have training room hire and offer a variety of events that are specifically engineered to cater for the pockets and needs of the cash-strapped start-up.
“When I started my first business in 2008, I had no idea how to market it or get sales. I couldn’t afford an agency and it seemed as though nobody wanted to show me how to do it myself.
“In the end, I learned by trial and error, blowing huge amount of cash in the process. Our events were created so that others don’t have to embark on the same journey that I did.”