For over 25 years, Business in Focus has helped thousands of start-up and scale-up businesses grow and prosper across Wales – providing excellent properties, facilities and business support to enterprises of all sizes and sectors.
Angharad Harding, Enterprise Hub Manager and Business Advisor for Business in Focus, has been integral to the development of this hugely successful and fast-expanding service for the past two and half years; and took time out of her busy schedule to share with us how Business in Focus has widened its offer to individuals and businesses of all types, expanding imaginatively and inclusively, even through a global pandemic .
“I had a broad-ranging background in property, procurement and the supply chain across the private and public sector when I joined Business in Focus – and I’d particularly enjoyed projects where I’d helped support both established and start-up enterprises – so my role here felt a perfect fit from day one. I’ve witnessed and been closely involved in our expansion towards becoming a truly pan-Wales family of sites – and enjoyed every minute of being part of a social enterprise built on a mission, which saw our purpose really coming to the fore during the pandemic.”
“Because we talk to businesses every day, we’ve been able to feedback as a partner, connector and communicator”
“Because we talk to businesses on a daily basis, we’ve been able to give feedback to local and national government on the day-to-day realities of commercial life on the ground. We see that role – of partner, connector and communicator – as a vital part of our role: raising awareness of what’s happening ‘out there’ for the economic good of everyone in Wales.
Being a catalyst is a natural part of what we do, giving business a platform to grow and influence – and three examples of this come to mind from during the COVID emergency. When the pandemic hit, we set up a number of virtual networking communities, the first one being our Women in Business sessions which have resulted in four businesses working together in close collaboration to pursue joint opportunities, making those businesses much more confident and resilient.
For the past 15 months, on every Friday, we have also run our ‘Friday Club’ for businesses to connect and communicate – and as we have come out of the pandemic a number of those companies taking part have told me that for a four-five month period, the Friday Club was the only thing that kept them going. Beyond that, we have long recognised the potential for tech companies in our region, so we set up our Smart Team Action Group in July 2020, for tech companies to come together with a real voice and purpose. We put the emphasis on ‘Action’ and the Group has now grown to become a focal point in the region, working together and helping advise the public sector on what’s needed to unleash the huge potential we have here across all tech sectors.”
“Seeing the way people have grabbed the opportunity to take their ideas into action – building something valuable – has been immensely rewarding for me on a personal and professional level” reflects Angharad.
“Looking forward, it’s an incredibly exciting time for Business in Focus. We’re accessing new opportunities through both Welsh government funding and private sector avenues. We’re increasingly seen as ‘the place’ for the complete package of flexible accommodation, affordable finance and expert guidance – the people to talk to for anyone who wants to take their idea and turn it into a successful enterprise.”
“Our new Shared Spaces in Carmarthen helps remote workers and start-ups feel connected and supported.
It even offers the chance to market test a product for free.”
“We’re particularly proud of an amazing new offering that we’re just launching for West Wales – our new Shared Spaces tenancy in St Catherine’s Walk Shopping Centre, Carmarthen, which offers an open-plan and well-equipped work space for remote workers and start-ups. We’ve been listening to feedback following the pandemic and realised that there was a real need for a hybrid working solution, for both remote workers who were in danger of feeling secluded, as well as for small businesses to take their products and services to market as the recovery continues – and the Shared Spaces facility gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to work in a space where they can share their ideas and collaborate with like-minded people, in a vibrant town centre location. We’re offering a variety of co-working packages to suit a wide range of needs – and we even give entrepreneurs the opportunity to test the market with any product currently in development, simply by booking a dedicated space.”
“Widening and deepening our connection and collaboration with our clients and communities is at the heart of what we do.”
“In many ways this new offering encapsulates our approach to helping start-ups and scale-ups develop their products and services, learning and growing from their experiences, while benefiting from a cost-efficient, supportive and safe environment that allows them to concentrate on nurturing their business” notes Angharad. “As well as an economic benefit, our Shared Spaces tenancy will allow our team to engage with the local community on a wider level – enabling us to launch our pop-up shops for test trading and product showcasing, connecting us and our clients with the community we all live and work in.
That stakeholder inclusion is one of the key pillars of our approach and for me sits at the very heart of what we’re looking to achieve as we grow and develop across Wales and perhaps even further afield.”