What is EEN? Enterprise Europe Network is the largest business support network worldwide and is delivered in the North of England by various partners, one of which is RTC North, with offices in the North East, North West and Yorkshire. EEN’s aim is to help ambitious businesses innovate, scale, and go global. EEN is a fully funded service designed to help businesses realise their full potential, providing them with business opportunities both locally and internationally.
How can EEN help small businesses? Whilst EEN has helped thousands of companies to penetrate new markets and find partners in other countries, it also helps companies that aren’t quite there yet.
Innovate2Succeed (I2S) is Innovate UK’s fully funded national innovation coaching programme, offering support to those businesses hungry for growth. It is delivered across the North of England by RTC North through the Enterprise Europe Network.
I2S welcomes businesses who are focused on growth through the development and commercialisation of novel products or services to join the inspiring programme.
Minskip Farm Shop recently took part in the Innovate2Succeed programme. The company is a busy, working farm that takes care of many animals such as alpacas, goats and pigs, but the main animal at the heart of this story is their hens.
With 6,000 hens on the farm, the welfare of the hens and the delicious eggs that they produce are the company’s main priority and what keeps them going.
After hearing about the Innovate2Succeed programme at a networking event, they were eager to find out more and came on board. Having taken over the company not too long before starting work with EEN, they were still getting to know the business that they had taken on and learning how to run it.
We caught up with Emma, Owner of Minskip Farm Shop to find out a little bit more about their experience, so you can hear first-hand what they got from the programme and how it helped their company.
So, what is it that your business does?
“Put simply, we are a farm shop and a working farm. We have 6,000 hens on our farm, and the welfare of our hens is our main priority. The eggs our hens lay as well as the vegetables we grow here on the farm are all sold in the farm shop. Alpacas, goats and pigs are amongst the other animals we have here on the farm.”
What problems were you facing?
“We actually took over the business two and a half years ago and met Andy fairly early on when we were still finding our feet and learning how to run a business. He came out to see us and proved to be extremely helpful, especially as we were still in the early stages. I would say business planning and working out the general direction of the business was our main issue. We knew we had potential but we didn’t know how to harness it. When you are a business owner, sometimes you have so many ideas and so many thoughts about where to take your business, but sometimes you need someone to help ground you and tell you which ideas you should focus on and which shouldn’t leave the back page of your notebook!”
How did EEN help you to overcome these problems?
“Initially, Andy came to visit us for a chat, got to know our business, and very quickly helped us to realise that we needed to define our ambition and vision for the business, as we were so caught up in the day to day running of it that we hadn’t thought about where we would like it to go in years to come. He helped us to define a vision, a unique selling point and a plan, which has honestly had a massive impact on everything that we’ve done since. It really helped us to realise what was important.”
What have you achieved as a result of the help that you were given?
“We’ve actually achieved a few things. As a result of having a clear mission for the business, after talking with Andy, assessing and defining our priorities, we decided early on to focus on the original farm, which was veg and eggs. We’ve since been shortlisted for 18 awards and won 5 awards in total, two of which were national! Our turnover has also increased by about 30% and although we believe this is also down to our hard-working team, I2S massively helped steer us in the right direction and enabled us to achieve this.”
“We actually now have planning permission for a café or Farm Kitchen, which will hopefully open later this year or early next year. We will have a full menu to choose from, and our eggs and veg will certainly feature!”
Would you recommend EEN?
“We would definitely recommend EEN to any business, in any sector. We would encourage any company to use the services that EEN provide because for us, having a clear direction and a plan was key to everything else, and I think they’re really good at working out where your gaps are, what areas need improvement and where you are succeeding.
“If Innovate2Succeed can help a little Farm Shop in Minskip, it can help anybody.”