Always Dreamed About Starting Your Own Business?


I think this past year has been a chance for many of us to take stock and think about what we really want from life. Many of us have been furloughed / working reduced hours which has given us the time and space needed to start a new hobby or learn a new skill. 

Those of you who watch my Instagram stories will know that my brother has been furloughed as a chef, taught himself carpentry from scratch and has been making mud kitchens and tables which he has really enjoyed. There are 1000s of people like Mark who may be thinking about taking their new found skills to the next level or turning their hobby into a business but are perhaps not sure where to start. Or maybe have a business idea but are unsure how to take the first steps or where to apply for funding. If this is something you are interested in exploring, this post is for you. 

This post has been sponsored by Learn Smarta. Based in North East England, they are providing fully funded flexible and accessible training and advice for those based in Northumberland or Tyne and Wear who are looking to turn their hobby into a business or explore a new business idea.  You can find out more about Learn Smarta and sign up here. 

Starting a Business - My Experience 

I will try not to ramble too much in this section. The process of starting my own business is probably something I could write a whole book on. I have a lot to say! 

North East Family Fun will turn 10 next year (how time flies). In the early days, it was very much just a hobby and I had no idea I could actually make money from running a website. After a few years of running my site as a hobby, I started receiving paid business opportunities and after three years I was running a part time 'hobby' business alongside my part time NHS job. It was nice running my own part time business and this really works for some people. But for me, I started wanting more and craved the freedom of being a full time business owner. I think it is at this point I really could have benefitted from something like Learn Smarta to help guide me through the next stages of properly starting my own business. 

I dithered for ages about taking the leap and turning North East Family Fun into a proper business. I didn't really know what I was doing or have any kind of business plan. My mam is proud of me now, but I know at the time she seriously had her doubts and was worried I was making a mistake. Again, signing up to a business course like Learn Smarta definitely would have put both of our minds at ease.

Anyway, I did end up taking the leap in the end. It's scary but North East Family Fun has been registered as a business for around 7 years and I have been a full time business owner for over 6 years. I do remember looking at funded courses at the start of my journey but there just wasn't anything suitable as nothing was flexible enough (and I worked part time with three small children at home so didn't have much time on my hands). I am still here and absolutely love running my own business but having some kind of guidance and support in the early days would have been invaluable to me. 

When I was just starting out in the business world, I found like-minded people through Facebook and networking groups. Most of my family and friends are employed in traditional careers and having a group of people who were going through the same experience of starting a business as me was absolutely invaluable. Even if they weren't in the same industry (the group I found included a Bookkeeper, Holistic Therapist and Photographer), having these people as a sounding board and encouragement was something I am truly thankful for as I was never alone. I am still in touch with these people now.

With Learn Smarta, you will be in your own group of like-minded people who are all starting the same journey. Believe me when I say, this is one of the best things you can do when just starting out. 

What is Learn Smarta? 

After reading up about Learn Smarta, I believe it has been designed for people just like me when I was first thinking about turning my hobby into a business. They deliver startup training business training for those who are in the initial phases of thinking about starting a business or simply just have an idea.

Their first course provides training worth £499 and is fully funded for Northumberland and Tyne and Wear residents (meaning you won't pay a penny). The first intake is on 10th May (with more following later in the month). Their courses are flexible and should take 4-6 weeks to complete online. 

What to expect from Learn Smarta: 

  • A comprehensive 4-6 week online course for beginners interested in or exploring the idea of starting a business
  • Learn where and how to apply for funding or start up finance 
  • Engage with real business experts who will share their business and start-up knowledge 
  • A one on one consultation with an expert tutor who will help to establish your strengths and weaknesses
  • Join a community of like-minded business brains who are all in the same boat as you and can offer peer support 
  • Learn the basics of business, build your confidence and explore ideas in a safe space
  • Interactive live learning sessions which you can also watch on demand as many times as you would like during your learning experience 
  • Access a virtual learning environment where you can manage all of the course content you'll be using and share work with your tutor 
  • Learn how to be your own boss and the basics of starting and running your own business 

Self-employed life is so different to employment. If it is something you are considering either now or in the future, knowing the basics and getting your head around what's involved will definitely instill confidence. 

Sounds great! How do I apply? 

The course is fully funded for people who live in Northumberland or Tyne and Wear (your home address must be in these areas) and are over 18. That means it is completely FREE! If you live outside of these areas, there will be a fee. Please contact Learn Smarta for more information. 

If you are interested in exploring or starting a new business either now or in the future and are looking for a comprehensive business course for beginners, Learn Smarta is for you. 

The course takes approximately 4-6 weeks to complete so isn't for those who are looking to start a business this week. 

Key dates: 
  • Registrations open on 19th April 
  • The first course starts on 10th May (with more following later that month)
  • Find out more and apply here: 

Who is behind Learn Smarta? 

Learn Smarta is part of Smarta, a place for independent businesses who love to learn, grow and support each other. Smarta is brought to you by the same team behind Transmit Startups, the UK's leading provider of Start Up Loans for business. 

The team are based in Gateshead and between them have years of experience in running a business and navigating self-employed life. The business has backed thousands of entrepreneurs with over £100million since 2013. 

Smarta like to do things a little differently. They found there was a gap in the market for business start-up training that provided qualifications but did so in a way which was accessible to all, never condescending and comes from real life business experiences. 

If you have always dreamed of running your own business but don't know where to start or quite how to execute an idea, there is no time like the present. Why not try Learn Smarta, explore your ideas and learn more about what's involved? You have nothing to lose. 


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