Growth Support Programme: Smith Hayne Orchards
This month, we are taking a look at what support and advice is available for sole traders and micro businesses in Devon. We had a chat with Anna Chambers from Smith Hayne Orchards who started her business with husband, Will, in September 2017, to learn about the Growth Support Programme and how having a free business adviser has helped shape the business’s future.
What is your business and role?
We’re a two-person cider producing business, living on an old cider farm with 12 acres of Orchards near Crediton. My husband, Will, covers the technical side of the cider making and I do all the admin and everything else in the business!
We started trading in September 2017 and we sell our bottled cider to local retail outlets in Exeter and the surrounding areas.
What do you most enjoy about your business?
The best part is making cider, which of course is why we went into business in the first place. We lived with all these Orchards so felt we really needed to utilise what we had and make the most of our assets.
Each season brings us a different task for our business; right now the trees are blossoming (a little late this year due to the adverse weather conditions in March) and we are bottling last year’s cider. In the autumn we begin the wonderful task of picking all the apples, which is a lovely time of year to be in the Orchards. November is the start of the cider making process – it’s always exciting getting the taste spot on.
What are the most challenging aspects of your business?
The technical aspects as we have to get the blending and the temperatures right. The weather conditions and apples can vary year to year so we have to be prepared to adapt the recipe or change the times that we do things.
Why did you join the Growth Support Programme?
We knew we needed some help to expand our business and when we heard about the free support available, we wanted to take advantage of the programme. I have an MBA but the theory of business is very different to the practical side of running a business and it’s great to get as much outsider advice as we can.
We took a marketing module and we also had help in business planning and IT. The support was tailored to our business and everything was bespoke and on a 1-2-1 basis.
Did you find the Growth Support Programme useful?
We definitely found that the programme was useful for learning more about business planning; we were able to put together a solid business plan which was realistic. We also learnt a lot about digital marketing which is a real must in business these days, even if you’re looking to stay local. The financial planning module was also very insightful and it helped us get our heads around the finances so that it was clearer and easier to understand.
Most of all, having a business adviser has given us the confidence to know we can do it; there’s so many micro businesses out there and it’s comforting to know we are not alone!
What are your goals following the programme?
We have some very clear cut goals now we have been talking to Chris from BIP. We want to increase production and create a larger product range. To do this we will be looking to hire staff to help us with the production, which will then lead to a need to find new customers. Increasing sales is our ultimate goal for our business during the next financial year.
What’s the best business advice you have been given?
To ensure that the product is delicious! This is why the technical side to our cider making is so important. Of course it’s also important to get our target market to know that your products are delicious and to ensure that, we have tasting cups on our market stalls so that people can try before they buy.
If you would like to benefit from the free support available to sole traders, micro businesses and SMEs in the area, please register your interest here: https://bit.ly/2KVI3PU or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Heart of the South West Growth Support Programme project is receiving up to £904,945 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. The accountable body for this programme is Devon County Council, working with the following delivery partners: BIP, Cosmic, North Devon +, Somerset Business Agency, Torbay Development Agency and YTKO.