Natalie Wiley is a firm advocate of Captured and its benefits – but she almost missed out on the scheme because she felt it wasn’t suitable for her.
“I must admit, I thought my business was too small,” she said. “I’d originally heard about Captured at a South Tyneside business forum and it was only after speaking with Angela Craggs at Newcastle University Busines School that I realised I might be able to benefit from it.”
A few months on, she’s glad she did sign up to the scheme, which helps small firms develop the personal and business skills needed for business growth with hands-on support from larger regional organisations. It turned out to be a perfect fit for Natalie, who launched Realign Sports & Holistic Therapies in October 2015 after being made redundant from her previous job at South Tyneside Council.
A qualified sports masseuse and holistic therapist, she offers a wide range of treatments including Thai, Indian and Swedish massages, as well as massages for pregnant women and babies. She signed up to Captured with the aim of finding ways to expand the business further by branching into the corporate sector.
She said: “I was matched with Mike Rohan from Sage and I told him I wanted to get into the corporate market, into wellbeing centres and other similar places with a captive audience. Previously I generated a significant portion of my revenues by bringing in business from friends, private individuals and referrals.
“While that’s all well and good, getting into the corporate sector will open up a new market and enable me to grow the business more rapidly. It will also give me much greater visibility on cashflow and make it easier to produce accurate financial forecasts.”
As well as helping Natalie to develop new revenue streams, Mike also offered her the chance to gain real-life experience of a large company by organising a visit to Sage. She carried out massage treatments on several sales staff as a reward for their endeavours – and received a full day’s pay and lots of positive feedback to boot!
Mike said: “Natalie’s company is a good example of an ambitious small business with growth at the heart of its agenda. Small businesses are the engine of the North East economy and it’s important that they receive the right support, both from larger organisations and the education sector.
“Captured brings together the public and private sectors and provides a great environment for small firms to flourish and develop.”
Natalie’s ultimate aim is to get her own premises, although she’ll need to grow her venture to a point where it can sustain these additional costs.
“Mike’s help was invaluable in broadening my knowledge of the various routes to market out there,” she said. “He has given me a fresh perspective and taught me the value of stepping back from day-to-day activities to reflect on my business.”