Being a business owner can be difficult and lonely at times. From 2020 to 2021, these negative feelings intensified even more. The Covid-19 pandemic greatly impacted retail and forced owners to reconsider the nature of their services, practically having to start from scratch with no consistent income coming in. At a difficult time for most businesses, Paul Bennett acted as a reliable adviser to many owners, building healthy relationships with his clients, and helped a plethora of businesses sustain themselves.
As an adviser with the Business Gateway, Paul is responsible for supporting the growth of business owners and companies, with 70% of those being start-ups or people looking to scale up their passions into professional businesses.
Paul comes from a banking background, having worked mostly with manufacturing and engineering organizations to help them grow through finance. He has also supported start-ups through a programme with Coventry University.
Having joined Business Gateway right at the start of the pandemic in 2020, some of the biggest challenges he has faced has been regarding retail customers who haven’t been fully operational due to lockdowns. This caused a massive drop in sales, and business owners still had to pay fixed costs, such as rent, rates, and staff.
Paul said people really appreciated having someone there to listen to them; a friendly voice at the end of a phone. He sets goals or small tasks his clients have to do before their next one-to-one meeting, perhaps starting with marketing or finance depending on the problem. This provides some focus, as well as reducing what can be an overwhelming time for the business.
He has worked with a high-end photographer that was struggling to find work, after the pandemic had wiped out his large contracts with sporting events around the world. This included events for luxury brands like Rolex which came through an agency. The client was going through a lot of pressure and negative emotions.
Paul discussed how the owner was feeling, and what he was going to do to help him. He helped him apply for a grant from his local council for some new equipment, as well as offering some well-being options to help with his mental health. He followed up with several check-ins and fortunately things had started to turn around, with Rolex contacting the photographer directly, as well as the agency returning with other contracts.
Paul and Reena, founder of Inner8, had multiple one-to-one sessions discussing how best to diversify her business.
“I found Reena to be a pleasure to work with and was passionate and open about how she wanted to take the business forward at a realistic pace without compromising her values.”
“She listened to my advice and has taken ownership of her business”.
As a result, Inner8 was given a clear direction on where to go next. Reena was able to establish relevant networks, connecting with new people to help Inner8 progress and flourish.
After Paul worked with Reena, he went on a teambuild activity of Paddleboard Yoga. It was totally out of his comfort zone, but he really enjoyed the experience!