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Are you really ready to start a business? Do you need someone to talk to about your business or business idea? Starting a business isn’t easy, in fact, we know that it can be so difficult that the process actually puts you off going down the business route. Not to worry - we have a solution. Introducing Chris Rayner, South Kilburn’s latest response to the growing thirst for business in South Kilburn and beyond.

Chris has spoken exclusively to us about who he is, what he is doing at the Trust and how you can get amazing free, yes, FREE business advice.

Hi Chris, tell us about the service?

We have a business advice drop-in service, you can come and discuss your with a business advisor one-to-one. We can go through anything at all; your pitfalls, risks, queries, rules and the regulations. Anything you want to ask, we’ve got experience from starting a business from scratch and of all the problems and pitfalls so we try to give you a practical and intelligent guide to running a business.

When did the service become available to South Kilburn Residents?

It’s been available for a little while now (and still is). We are working with South Kilburn residents especially Brent Housing Partnership (BHP) residents but the service is available Brent-wide as well as South Kilburn specifically.

What do you do?

We try to introduce a number of rolling programmes, workshops, networking events (industry specific) and a set of seminars on business basics. We also have the South Kilburn Studios that are subsidised or free to use. The Studios are also a space that people can come and work in and is also open to the community. We are trying to marry enterprise with the employment initiatives that South Kilburn Trust have and also create a sense of community by bringing everything together without defining it overly.

What we are trying to be is approachable and we are very good at listening.

What kind of individuals and businesses would you typically see?

Well, there isn’t really a typical type of individual or business. People usually start off with having an interest or a hobby. They usually start off with an idea - they see a gap in the market. Certain sectors are favoured; there are people in fashion, music, catering and food, tee-shirts, cupcakes and graphic design. It can be absolutely anything at all; service industry, manufacturing…we will work with anything and everything.

What would you say to somebody who just has an idea, has never had a business and is probably still working?

We deal with pre-start people, people who just have an idea and want to ask a few questions. Business isn’t for everyone but at least we can give you a reasonably pragmatic, impartial opinion and tell you roughly the right direction to go. We can probably save you some money as some advice will tell you to spend on things you probably don’t need to spend money on. That’s what I wish I had when I started.

You can also come if you’ve already started your business or if you’ve been in business for years. We pretty much can deal with absolutely anything.

How long can you support people for?

It’s ongoing. (Yes, that’s correct - unlimited business support).

Can you tell us about the background of BHP contract?

BHP (Brent Housing Partnership) have allocated some resources to the South Kilburn Trust to support their residents to start a business. That support is ongoing. Brent Housing Partnership are looking for engagements with people who want to start a business and within reason, they are leaving it up to us. 

Julian is also a Business Advisor and so are you, what’s the difference between the two of you?

We’re pretty much the same. Julian is excellent and has been advising for a while and he deals mostly with the South Kilburn Studio tenants and I’m dealing with the new studio tenants. I’m here three days (Brent-wide) and he is here one day a week.

I’m here Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9:30 - 5pm. I’m usually at South Kilburn Studios. 

Drop-in is tricky as I can be away for meetings but you can still drop-in. The best thing to do is to contact me by email to book a slot and we can meet at South Kilburn Studios. 

I will talk to absolutely anybody within our remit and go through everything. I’ve been through it all myself so I understand how it is when you start out or are already in business.

What’s your background in a nutshell?

I worked for a large organisation for 10 years and then my wife who’s a designer, started a fashion business. We went into business together to sell her collection directly. We started by selling to some shops and only started to make money after about 5 years. After 15 years we were turning over 3 million a year and had 50 employees. We then sold the business in 1999/2000.

Would you like free business advice? You can contact Chris on chris@southkilburntrust.org or call him on 07469 660 883. Drop-in to South Kilburn Studios, 2A Canterbury Rd, NW6 5SW.

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