Back in the year 2000, I decided to chase a dream and start my own hat business. I had heard about The Princes Trust Start-Up Grant from a friend and, although it seemed like a huge leap for me, I thought I’d give it a go.
The application process was pretty thorough. I had to lay out my business plan and present some of my hat designs. It was all a bit nerve-wracking - I’d never done anything like this before – but it felt like the right thing to do and I put everything into it.
It worked! I was awarded a grant of £3,000. With the funds, I commissioned the creation of two wire hat stands and ordered some starter hat blocks. Little did I know that one of those, my double-sided brim block, would go on to shape over 1000 hats and I still use it today.
But the money wasn't the only good part. I was also paired with a mentor. He set up accounting systems and, most importantly, helped me get more organised. As someone whose internal thoughts are often tangled like a bowl of spaghetti, staying organised is still an everyday challenge!
Looking back, I'm just so thankful for that start-up grant. It was more than just financial help - it gave me the push I needed to turn my passion into something real. Starting a business is not easy, but with a bit of support and a lot of determination, amazing things can happen.
So, if you're sitting on a business idea, I'd say go for it. Look into grants, find a mentor, build your network and take that first step to creating something of your own!