Business champion: Deputy Mayor Cllr Gary Millar, who is behind Liverpool’s entrepreneur in residence scheme at Liverpool Central Library.

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A Liverpool project which gives free advice to people who want to start their own business has helped more than 1,600 budding entrepreneurs since it began life.

Over the past five years, Deputy Mayor Cllr Gary Millar has been sharing his considerable business acumen with self-starting city dwellers through a regular series of advice drop-in clinics at Liverpool’s Central Library.

Cllr Millar has been joined by a series of guest experts who regularly pass on their knowledge, wisdom and experience to the eager audiences.

The entrepreneur-in-residence sessions have proved to be a smash hit, with more than 1,600 people popping-in for pointers since they began.

And 2019 has proved to be a bumper business year, with a total of 310 people receiving first-rate help and advice.

The project’s recently released end-of-year report for 2019 shows that 96 per cent of those who have taken advantage of the free sessions have come away happy and inspired.

As well as one-to-one meetings, Cllr Millar and the team have supported 192 business advice meetings and a further 118 meetings offering guidance on Intellectual Property (IP).

The breakdown shows that 40 per cent of those taking advantage of the sessions were female entrepreneurs. A quarter of all those who turned up for advice were from the city’s black and minority ethnic communities and 23 per cent of budding business brains were under 35.

Half of all those people seeking advice were planning to start their own business.

Typical comments from those attending the sessions include:

“Excellent gained useful, practical, insightful knowledge and asked challenging questions to help me identify aims for improvement.”

And: “Really good information. Put me through my paces – good to think about elements that I might not have thought about otherwise.”

Cllr Millar said: “It’s been a great year for business in Liverpool and we have been excited to see so many bright, enthusiastic entrepreneurs coming to see us at the library’s Business and Intellectual Property Centre, the BIPC, in search of the boost they may need to get their business grow and under way. Interestingly they don’t just come from Liverpool but as far afield as Yorkshire and Wales! Thank you to them all for taking that bold step in reaching out for help.

“I must also thank our volunteer unpaid specialist mentors for their amazing help week in and week out for the last five years. Plus of course, I thank our wonderful library and BIPC staff for supporting our businesses every day of the week. In addition, what is really pleasing this year is we are seeing an increasingly diverse range of people popping in for guidance. It shows our city’s dynamic make up and gives us great signs for a promising future for our city.

“We urge anyone who aspires to start up a new business and wants help growing their existing business in 2020 to drop in to one of our sessions any Thursday at Central Library between 1pm and 4pm and see how we can help.”

Ali McGrath, Enterprise Enabler at The Women’s Organisation and expert adviser at the entrepreneur’s clinic said: “It’s been an absolute privilege to sit alongside Gary and the team of experts at the entrepreneur-in-residence sessions over the last five years. Each week brings a new wave of enthusiastic entrepreneurs, with new ideas and questions to explore.

“Having easy-to-access, expert free advice is an invaluable resource, especially for those in the early stages of starting a business who might find themselves unsure of where to begin. At The Women’s Organisation we know just how important it is to seek advice and take advantage of the business support there is out there, including projects like our Enterprise Hub programme. I would encourage anyone who has a burning business question to pop in and see how Gary and the team can help.”

Entrepreneur in residence is part of the Central Library’s Business and IP Centre – which gives residents access to a wealth of free information and support. The drop-in sessions take place every Thursday between 1pm and 4pm at the library and on the first Saturday of every month.

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