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Jeni Smith had 2020 all planned out: whilst taking some time off, she meticulously planned her new business venture, Networking Knowho, and was set to launch in March this year, but we all know what happened next.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the country was forced into lockdown, leading to a whole bunch of activities that were no longer going ahead, amongst them – networking.

Unable to deliver any of her original business proposal of bespoke networking training, Jeni knew she had to pivot her offering and was determined not to give up. Despite months of planning her original business plan, Jeni went back to the drawing board and worked out how she could adapt her business to meet the needs of the post-lockdown world.

Luckily, rethinking her business plan was in fact made a little easier because of lockdown:

“I was able to have some headspace,” Jeni explained. “You don’t have the distractions of going out to all these meetings and events. It was just me in the house on my laptop.”

Free from the usual distractions of life, Jeni began creating a brand-new business model, and adapted her service offering to something that would work in the remote world. Whilst doing so, Jeni looked for some support. That was when she found Durham Ambitious Business Start-ups (DABS).

Through browsing available support schemes on the North East Growth Hub website, Jeni spotted the DABs scheme and knew it was what she needed to take her business further.

DABS is an ERDF-funded programme that helps high-quality startups in County Durham start trading and offers premium quality support during the critical first 12 months in business.

The DABS programme offers two unique support packages. One for those who have a great idea and have not yet started their business, and another for new entrepreneurs at the start of their exciting journey.

Delivered by a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable individuals, DABS are experts at helping startups turn their remarkable ideas into pragmatic and commercially viable businesses.

Since signing up to DABS, Jeni has been able to take full advantage of their many offerings, from one-to-one support and mentoring, to expert-led workshops, all helping her take her startup to the next level.

Jeni said: “The DABS programme has been fantastic, working independently from the comfort of my own home during lockdown has been invaluable. I’ve had access to a great source of support and being able to get feedback on ideas, have someone to hold me accountable when needed, and the access to courses and information has just been amazing.

“I’d recommend any eligible business takes advantage of this fantastic programme – you literally have nothing to lose and so much to gain! It’s helped me define my ideas, create new opportunities, and focus on my future plans for business growth.”

In the coming year, Jeni plans to launch Networking Knowho’s new online platform, something that the support from DABs has made her well prepared to do.

 To find out if your business is eligible for DABS support, visit their website.

Amanda Armstrong
Article by Amanda Armstrong
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