Esi Hardy joined the Inspiring Enterprise project in January and has been working with our adviser Susan, who has been helping her get started. She has now registered as a sole trader, written her business plan, and has her website up and running. I caught up with her to find out a little bit more about her business, Celebrating Disability and ask her some questions about how she was getting on…
Your business sounds fantastic; please could you give us a quick overview?
The business is a disability equality consultancy for organisations and education establishments.
My main target market is medium sized organisations, and I present workshops to delegates within those organisations about disability equality in the work place. I present standard workshops and if a company wants a different model then I can create bespoke consultancy models around disability equality to fit their requirements.
It is important to understand that disability equality is important for all businesses not just businesses that work with disability, There are around 12 million people in the UK who have a disability, it’s the fastest growing minority in the world, but it’s still the most segregated and the most under represented and there are only 50% of disabled people of working age in employment, there is so much segregation and stigma attached to disability and disability can be a scary thing for employers, but it needn’t be. Everybody knows what they can do in the work place and what they need support with. A simple conversation will identify where support may be needed and there are grants that can be tapped into, the government have an access to work grant which can be used to support disabled employees, but nobody knows about it.
I can help organisations have an insight into disability equality and the gain the confidence to deliver it.
I can develop personalised material with a company so I can help them develop their policies and procedures around inclusion for disabled customers or employees within their organisation and I also offer support for individual employees as a peer mentor to help support an individuals needs.
How did you come up with your business name?
My business is called Celebrating Disability and it is called that for two reasons…
I’ve learned that in order to get up on google analytics it’s best to have what you do in your title and I think that people still think there is a stereotype and stigma attached to disability, which scares them away. There is a misconception that if you are disabled, you’re incapable, especially in business, the word disability is looked at as a negative and people don’t see the positives, and by putting the word celebrating in the title it focuses on the positive. I want people to look at disability as a positive rather than negative thing.
When did you set your business up and what gave you the inspiration to do it?
I set it up on 28th January this year; I left my previous employment in December. I had been working for a charity who support disabled people in all aspects of their lives so I knew I wanted to work in the field of disability equality but didn’t have a plan yet so I went to see The National Careers Service and she posted me in the direction of an Inspiring Enterprise Self Employment – Is it for Me? workshop. I went along, and met Susan who told me about the support I could get and I thought it was just what I needed, somebody with a bit of business expertise but also somebody to give me that extra push of motivation, so I thought, yeah, let’s just do this….joined the project, registered my business the next day and set up a website!
What has been the best part so far?
Honestly, I’ve really enjoyed working with Susan from Inspiring Enterprise , it’s been great to have that passion and to have someone to talk through ideas with and offer a guiding hand, It’s been really helpful to work with someone who has business experience that can help point me in the right direction. It’s also been great to have someone to help motivate me; it’s always easier to get this done when you are accountable to somebody. She helps keep me on track!
What are the challenges to you have had to overcome?
Finance- one of the things I was worried about with setting up my own business and still worries me now is setting my prices, I don’t like talking about money, it’s not something I’m embarrassed about but I don’t want to set my prices too low or too high, I don’t want to under or over sell myself. Susan and I have been working on finance and I now have a table of rates that I can refer so I have a range of prices depending on an organisations requirements. I am going to take note of customer reactions and review my rates regularly.
I don’t like social media marketing, If someone asks me what my business does I can explain it really well, but I struggle to put it in a post on social media, I find it really hard and I find it difficult to write a blog, so I am going to ask people to give me blog topics and record video blogs. I have also taken on a marketing volunteer to help.
What is the best advice you would give to anyone else on the project?
I wouldn’t recommend setting up a business on a whim like I did! I wouldn’t do it any other way personally as I work well with improvisation, but I wouldn’t generally recommend doing what I did unless you really know that you can adapt really quickly and are really good at jumping from one thing to another.
Get as much information as you can, there’s so many free resources out there, use volunteers and always talk to people about your ideas, don’t be afraid to talk about your ideas and ask for feedback.
Be adaptable to the things that come up around your business idea.
You can find out more about Esi and Celebrating Disability here https://www.celebratingdisability.co.uk