This article is from Cambridge News, 29 July 2019 by Alya Zayed.
Reproduced with permission.
Launch of academy for indie businesses
An academy to help small and medium businesses grow has been launched. The Indie Academy, launched by the Indie Cambridge, is designed to help Cambridge businesses grow and scale up their work.
The academy will host free events for its members, share advice on topics to enable them to grow, and hold workshops on website development, social media, business strategy and outsourcing.
Entitled 'Money Matters', the inaugural event in September will be all about saving money, financial advice for the self-employed, and how to access funding as an entrepreneur with Luis Navarro from Nanna Mexico and Cambridge Building Society.
Debra Alcock, a savings expert from· Cambridge Building Society, said: "We've created a talk that will help inform and relieve some of the stress associated with both buying your first home when self-employed and picking the right savings product for your business savings.
"We' re looking forward to sharing our knowledge and expertise with local independent businesses and supporting them with their financial needs.”
Later in October, there will be 'A Roastery Rendezvous', where attendees will have an opportunity to hear from Simon Fraser, the brains behind cafe Hot Numbers, and will learn to roast their own coffee.
Indie Cambridge co-founder Anne Beamish started the project seven years ago, and though it has manifested itself in many different ways over the years, the focus has always been the same: to celebrate, promote and help independent businesses.
The academy was started when Indie Cambridge realised that while local businesses have many skills and strengths, they also face unique challenges. Ms Beamish said: "We want to celebrate the sector but we want to do practical things to make it stronger.” She added “It can be quite difficult for people to set themselves up as a small business. "You've got to do all the marketing, accounts, everything, and people don't necessarily have the knowledge and skills in all those areas so that's why the Indie Academy was born”
This is why one of the sessions is about outsourcing these tasks, which can be vital for small businesses if they want to scale up.
Ms Beamish said: "I think it's very easy for small businesses to feel they can't afford to outsource certain tasks like payroll or social media.
"But you should look at it like you can't afford not to outsource. If you're doing all that, who's running the businesses?”
Although Cambridge has made a big name for itself in the world of digital technology businesses, Ms Beamish emphasised the importance of the day-to-day businesses, such as clothing retailers, coffee shops and bookshops.
She has also noticed a shift in collective consciousness, where people are becoming more aware of where they spend their money. Ms Beamish said “When you mentioned the word 'Indie' people thought of the indie music scene.
"People just took these places for granted. They didn't think about whether they were having a coffee in an independent or a chain but I think it's become a bigger part of what people consider when making decisions.”
She added: “ If you use independents, the money that stays in the local economy is much greater than that spent in other places.”
Another one of the benefits of working with the Indie is that it opens up opportunities to collaborate.
For example, one company in Cambridge needed a new website, and its owners ended up meeting a website developer through an Indie Cambridge event and they subsequently worked together to both of their benefits.
But the important thing to Ms Beamish is speaking to Cambridge businesses and finding out what they need to succeed.
"We could sit behind our computers and make it up but what's the point? 1
"We want to know what they need" she said.
There are two upcoming events but more will be announced in the future.
'Money Matters' will be held on September 19 from 9-10.45am at the Brasserie on the third floor of John Lewis in Downing Street .
A Roastery Rendezvous will be on October 17 from 6.30-8.30pm at Hot Numbers Roastery, Wrights Mowers, Dunsbridge Turnpike, Shepreth.
The events are free but places are limited.