What impact has the Local Enterprise & Apprenticeship Platform (LEAP) had on Eastbourne?

While 91% of small businesses in the UK survive their first year, that rate significantly goes down to only 40% staying open until their fifth year. Starting and running a business takes more than theoretical know-how. Without the right support—that is, experts guiding you in the right direction—business owners would be groping in the dark for success.

This is where organisations like the Local Enterprise & Apprenticeship Platform (LEAP) come in. Since its inception, LEAP has helped several entrepreneurs start, run, and grow their businesses, including those in Eastbourne.

What is LEAP?

LEAP was born in 2013. Funded by the Lewes District Council and delivered by Eastbourne & District Enterprise Agency Ltd (Edeal), this organisation guides local entrepreneurs via an intensive training programme to realise their business ideas and execute them well.

For those who want to start a business, LEAP provides the following:

  • Financial support — The chance to win £2,500 in order to fund and setup your business.
  • Start-up workshops — This one-day workshop will teach you how to maintain good cash flow, come up with a sound business plan, market your business, and stay compliant to UK laws.
  • 1-2-1 business advice — You’ll have mentors that you can freely ask about your business idea and how to execute it.
  • Social media training — Given that users are becoming more active across social platforms, you need to be able to market yourself in these channels.
  • Business networking — Building a network opens doors for future opportunities
  • Referrals — If you need loans or grants, LEAP can help make the introduction for you.

Meanwhile, for entrepreneurs who already have a business but need to take it to the next level, LEAP can help you with:

  • Business advice — You’ll have access to 35 years’ worth of experience with LEAP’s group of mentors.
  • Social media training — If you’ve tried and failed to gain traction on social media, this programme can teach you how to grow your online following and gain more leads.
  • Business networking — The value of your network cannot be overstated, as it can lead to partnerships, clients, and/or mentorship.
  • Referrals to other agencies — LEAP can help you gain access to financing sources, especially if you need to pivot or scale your business.

Note that to receive LEAP support, you need to be 18 years old and over, as well as reside and run a business in the Lewes District.

LEAP Start-up Programme Overview

LEAP programmes are free and come in three stages:

  1. One-day workshop — At the end of this one-day workshop, 15 delegates will be selected to move on to the next stage.
  2. Series of intensive workshops — There will be a series of 3-hour seminars (e.g. finance, law, marketing, social media) for a couple of months, together with a specialist mentor dedicated for each delegate. All delegates will create a business plan, but only five will be chosen to present it to a panel of expert judges.
  3. Mentorship — Although there will only be one winner who will receive the £2,500 cash grant, all 15 delegates will be given 10 hours of mentorship from the advisor of their choice.

The 2019 LEAP programme is ongoing at the time of this article’s writing.

How LEAP Helped Eastbourne Entrepreneurs

Today, LEAP boasts of a long line of entrepreneurs that they have helped over the years. Here are some of them:

1. Avril Chester — Cancer Central

As a breast cancer survivor herself, Eastbourne-based Avril Chester identified a gap in the support system that cancer patients have in the UK. She then pioneered a digital platform that would help patients throughout their journey, from pre-diagnosis to moving forward with a cancer-free life.

Her vision brought “Ave” to life—an AI chat support powered by IBM Watson. This platform aims to connect users with products and services they need via a conversational search engine.

For her efforts, Avril won Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2019 Women in IT Awards.

2. Natalie James — Stitch

With LEAP’s help, Natalie James was able to take over a haberdashery business in Seaford in 2016. The Stitch of Broad Street was relaunched and rebranded in the same year, which helped Natalie win the 2017 Women in Business award.

Her business took off, which then allowed her to open a second branch in Eastbourne called the Stitch of Compton Street.

3. Esther Eggerton — Confidence Box

Esther Eggerton approached LEAP in 2016 to help build her business that aims to boost candidates’ chances of landing a job. The Confidence Box trains people to communicate effectively, deal with nerves during presentations and interviews, and perform under pressure.

She now works with Edeal and provides confidence coaching for businesses and charities in East Sussex.

4. Tim Danson — The Green Man’s Garden

For Tim Danson, people’s outdoor living spaces can be transformed into an aesthetically pleasing bespoke garden without harming its surrounding habitat.

With LEAP’s help, the Green Man’s Garden was born. Tim’s business provides “ecologically-driven landscape design” services—such as living garden designs, tree surgery, surveys, and woodland management—to their clients in Sussex, Surrey, and Kent.

Take The Leap

There is plenty of uncertainty ahead of every business owner’s journey, and a lot of factors are out of your control.

If you want to take the guesswork out of running your business, find funding options, and be mentored by experts who have been in your shoes and succeeded, consider joining business support organisations like LEAP. They have the resources and network that can jumpstart and fulfill your entrepreneurial dream.