July 2017


Business Ready offers perfect safety net for Michelle

Michelle McHugh, director of Contrect Ltd, can vouch from first-hand experience that the Warwickshire County Council-backed Business Ready business support programme is the perfect "safety net" for anyone taking the bold step of starting their own company.

Michelle successfully launched the Contrect Portal, a contracting site which connects freelance ‘change’ contractors (including programme/project managers, business analysts and organisational development specialists) with clients, cutting out the need for recruitment agencies.

The Portal was launched  in March and is already building up a strong customer-base.

It was last year that she decided to start her own business for the first time and she was confident that she was well-qualified to do so after 15 years working in the public sector, most recently as Head of Transformation Delivery at Staffordshire County Council.

A big part of her role there was engaging change-based contractors to support the council’s ambitious transformation programme. Michelle became increasingly aware that she was overly reliant on recruitment agencies to provide visibility of the contracting market. That was unnecessarily time-consuming and expensive, so a business idea formed.

But while she possessed all the relevant expertise in her field, many of the practicalities of running a business were new to her. And that's where the Business Ready programme, based at the University of Warwick Science Park, offered priceless help.

"I was confident that I had a good idea and the knowledge to back it up," she said. "But it is still a huge step to start up your own business. The support I received from the Business Ready Programme has been fantastic."

Business Ready, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, forming part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Programme, supports tech-based and innovative businesses with high-growth potential based in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Michelle explains: "Everyone  who starts a business has the passion, the idea and the knowledge and experience in their field, but there is so much more to running a business. I have never worked in a small business, let alone run one and it is a huge change from working for big organisations. Suddenly, it's all down to you, from forming company strategy and managing bank accounts to sorting your IT problems.

"Business Ready is a safety net. The advisors flag up things you wouldn't even think of and you can access to all sorts of advice and support, on aspects like business planning, marketing, accessing financial support and website development.

"I have been given a Digital Marketing Mentor which has been immensely helpful. It's an area I had never been involved in before but it's really important to a small business in 2017 in order to build credibility and attract customers. I have been given loads of practical and hands on advice and support which has been key to the early successes Contrect has had in attracting contractors and client organisations."

Dirk Schafer, a Business Ready advisor from University of Warwick Science Park, commented: "Business Ready is an innovative business readiness support programme for businesses with the characteristics and ambition for growth. With a bold mission to transform the UK contracting market, Contrect clearly meets this criteria. We are excited to support such an innovative local start-up."

  • For more information or to apply for Business Ready support please email businessready@uwsp.co.uk or call 02476 323121.
  • To find out more about the range of support available to grow your business, please contact the Growth Hub on 0300 060 3747.


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