Advice covering the nuts and bolts of starting a business, together with help applying for a start-up loan, was the boost Gemma Voaden’s new business idea needed.
Only a few months on and her company, All Survey, is competing with some of the biggest names in the hazardous world of asbestos, surveying buildings and helping owners to manage any issues with their property.
Gemma was referred to the Business Growth Hub by Oldham Council and was amazed at the depth of advice and support they could offer. She signed up to one of the Hub’s Start Smart workshops and was soon working with business advisor Peter Newton.
“Peter was able to help develop our business plan and financial projections, and that was key in helping us to get a £6,000 start-up loan from Business Finance Solutions,” says Gemma. “Without that, I don’t think we’d be in such a strong position now.”
The business has just completed a major project for Age UK, assessing over 150 properties nationwide. Over 75% were found to contain asbestos, explains Gemma, and she now hopes to continue to work with the charity, helping them to manage the issue.
“Where I think we differ from lots of other surveyors is that we don’t just flag up problems, send in an invoice and then disappear, we can help manage the asbestos and make it safe, too.
“Most of the time we can encapsulate or contain it, as it’s the asbestos dust that is dangerous. But sometimes removal is the best course of action and we can recommend contractors and project manage this type of work, too,” she says.
With a family history of working in the building trade and dealing with asbestos, Gemma is also keen to develop the UK’s first national Asbestos Register, a definitive list of all those buildings which contain the potentially dangerous mineral.
Gemma is a trained energy performance assessor too, another side of the business which she intends to develop. She currently employs one other full-time member of staff, and also works with three sub-contractors who help carry out the surveys.
“To help All Survey go from an idea to an established start up in such a short period of time is hugely rewarding,” says Peter. “With bigger contracts already coming up for them I hope to see then back with us soon to talk more about how they can grow even further.”
Gemma has recently returned to the Hub for more support, this time attending a digital workshop which she says has completely revolutionised the company’s presence on social media. They’re now actively using Twitter, Facebook and Linked-In to find new contracts.
She is also attending the Hub’s numerous networking events and has signed up for a tendering master class to learn some of the tricks needed to successfully bid for work.