Posted: Tue 11th Apr 2023
We partnered with Vodafone to launch business.connected, helping 800,000 small and medium-sized businesses take their digital skills to the next level over the next three years.
Business owners can take part in e-learning modules, digital workshops delivered by business.connected advisers and Lunch and Learn webinars, and have a free consultation with a Vodafone V-Hub adviser.
The business.connected programme covers a range of core digital topics, from SEO and e-commerce to cyber-security and connectivity.
We're catching up with some of the business owners who have been taking part in the initiative to find out about how it's benefited them so far.
Here, we talk to Angela Lyons, a freelance graphic designer who creates designs for clients through her business Lyons Creative.
How did you first discover the business.connected programme? And what were you seeking help with?
I've been following Enterprise Nation for the last two years. I wanted to know about social media and how to use it in business.
I saw a post advertised on LinkedIn from the trainer, who was going to be presenting a webinar on social media skills as part of the business.connected programme. I joined that session and have been following ever since.
What aspects of your business has the business.connected programme helped you address?
The lunchtime webinars have helped give me an insight into SEO and social media. Also, the Enterprise Nation StartUp Show in January helped with some parts of my business – the intellectual property talk, in particular, was an eye-opener.
Watch this e-learning module on how to get started with social media for your business:
Can you talk about your background and what led to you becoming a business owner?
I'm a graphic designer, and have been for over 20 years now. My work has included roles in a B2B publishing house, a reprographics company, financial institutions, newspapers, charities.
I have no niche but I do love designing magazines. After working for a contract publisher for 11 years, I left to take up a role with a software company for six months. It turned out that wasn't for me, so I decided to try freelancing.
I had two young children and thought about having flexible time to be with them, so I decided to set up by myself. I call myself a freelancer but I have my own business, Lyons Creative. The business celebrates its 11th birthday in April 2023.
The last two years have been very busy. I design and am the creative lead for Freelancer magazine. Working with the editor Sophie Cross and team, we produce a 100-page business and lifestyle publication for – you guessed it – freelancers! The support has been phenomenal, and it's growing.
When you decided to go freelance, was there anywhere or anyone you went to for support?
Eleven years ago, the landscape for setting up by yourself was different to what it is now. I went to search online and found the Prince's Trust (which is great) but wasn't quite what I needed.
I wanted to get clients straight away, so I contacted past companies I'd worked for, and recruitment agencies. It's funny – at one time, in my role with an agency, I'd be contacting them for freelancers. Now I was contacting them for work!
I also spoke to freelancers already in business, asking how they did their accounts, how they managed to balance work and life, and so on.
Watch this e-learning module on using SEO to bring people to your website:
How do you approach personal development and learning new business skills?
It's really important to keep your skills refreshed. More so for me – over the last two years, social media, writing on my blog and starting my newsletter has helped me market myself. I wouldn't have done any of those things if it weren't for learning new skills.
Also, PR is an important skill to hone in on. It can be so wide-reaching – I could be a guest on a podcast, do a LinkedIn Live event or write a guest blog post, for example. Recently I got some work with a client who had read about me in a local newspaper.
How are you feeling about the future?
At the moment, good. I have lots of ideas, but I'm a company of one. There's only so much I can do in one day, but outsourcing and working with other freelancers sometimes happens and helps.
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone who's considering starting a business?
Connect with your peers and people in your industry. A lot of people often worry about competition, but actually it's about collaboration. You also learn so much from others. You or they can't do it all – it's good to share the work and refer and recommend.
Try working in a co-working space every now and again to meet with other small business owners and freelancers. You'll be amazed when you find people like yourself, and the advice they share.
Free video training, exclusive offers and workshops
The business.connected hub is a free online training programme of workshops, webinars and e-learning modules designed to help businesses go digital, adopt new technology, and stay safe online. Take me to the hub now