Posted: Tue 7th Mar 2023
The Next Generation programme aims to give thousands of young people aged 18 to 24 the support they need to start a new business or grow an existing one.
Created in partnership with Launch It, the programme provides free training, events, content, access to advisers, peer groups, funding and much more. It's designed to help young people who might not have easy access to the finance and opportunities they need to go into business for themselves.
Here, we talk to we talk to Jordan Holland, whose Crux Climbing Coaching is a youth coaching company for indoor rock climbing. The Birmingham-based business has expanded its marketing and social media presence thanks to guidance and mentoring from the Next Generation programme.
How have you benefited from the Next Generation programme so far?
Next Generation has given me the inspiration and motivation to get my business up and running. It has done this by providing me with a business mentor and pitching mentor, as well as access to a wealth of live Zoom meetings from company representatives at Apple, Google and Willmott Dixon.
My biggest takeaway from the programme so far has been the support around setting up and running my social media marketing and website. If you'd have asked me six months ago how to market my service or create a webpage, I would've looked bewildered! But now I'm successfully set up and selling my services across a range of social media platforms and have all of my details ready for customers to view on my website.
My business mentor Kofo has been really supportive. I had a day when a business proposal to a facility went wrong and threw my plans into chaos, yet with Kofo's support I was able to bounce back and re-evaluate my plans and strategy.
I really doubt that I'd have got off to the start that I did, and when I did, without the Next Generation programme.
How did you come up with your business idea?
The idea came from working in the industry over the last few years and seeing my own daughter participate in weekend sport.
I'd identified two needs. One, that young people taking part in sports like climbing could work regularly with the same member of staff and peers of a similar ability (not just age). And two, the need to build a strong and age-appropriate foundation in that sport, so they can then become climbers for life.
Parent involvement had to be a key part of the process too. Where the coach can email and keep parents in the loop about the activities that their children as individuals are doing during progressive club sessions.
How is your business unique?
My business is a start-up youth coaching company for indoor rock climbing. Since launching at the beginning of January, two young people have learned how to climb with applied techniques and enjoy some bouldering and belay (safely holding the rope from the ground).
We've had an Instagram giveaway winner whose children enjoyed a great family taster session and were booked on to make progress with their climbing through February.
Plans are coming together for our social impact project, set to take place during the summer of 2023. That will allow for more access to indoor climbing for a range of children and teenagers across Birmingham.
How have you financed your business?
I've funded the business with a small business loan, which went towards initial equipment purchases and start-up costs. I also used some of my own wages from employment and receive support with some donated bits of equipment from my current employer.
The Next Generation programme has given me access to a lot of free content and also £200 in credits from Fiverr.
If you needed help getting your business up and running, where did you go for support?
I went to the team at Next Generation, industry professionals in my sector, other small businesses similar to mine, and some other successful start-ups in similar industries.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced and how did you overcome it?
Being overly optimistic on a business proposal. It was too rushed and it ended up throwing my ideas and plans into the air. However, with the support of my business mentor I was able to bounce back and go back to the drawing board to see where to head next.
I'm now happy that this happened the way it did because it gave me new options to think about. That really removed many of the limitations that were in my original plan.
When it comes to business, what do you need to learn more about, and how do you plan to do it?
The next thing I need to focus on is making the business sustainable: how to pace the business well and the logistics behind expansion and employing staff.
What are your top tips for getting started in business?
Get the wheels in motion – every little bit of action, phone call, enquiry or application starts to give your business traction.
Be wise with your time. If you're starting out the same as me, with a primary income job as well as your start-up, you'll be pushed for time and juggling can become overwhelming. So plan wisely and know when to take a break.
Be resourceful and have a network. Try to use the professional or useful contacts that you know to get advice or access to other requirements that your business may need. Having and maintaining good relationships and working well with other people is key as you set up.
What's the best piece of business advice you've received?
My mentor Kofo told me the key to making it work is having good contacts and maintaining good two-way working relationships with others. Which goes back to the old saying, "It isn't what you know but who you know".
It really wouldn't have been possible to get started the way that I have without receiving the help and advice I did. But remembering that it's a two-way relationship is key.
What are your plans for the future?
After seeing the lack of social and economic diversity in the youth aspect of the sport, I was driven to introduce the 'give back' scheme in which £1 from every purchased session is saved to help fund sessions for children of deprived backgrounds in the future. There will also be fundraising campaigns to provide support to this project during the summer of 2023.
The following phase will see us supporting young people aged 16 to 22 into a career pathway for coaching climbing or other adventure sports. We'll support them into the industry by providing training and work opportunities.
The very long-term goal is to have a climbing centre which we can use to provide sessions for the children of Birmingham and employment opportunities for young adults starting out.
In the meantime, however, I want to give a big shout-out to the climbing walls of Birmingham and surrounding areas, as well as the friendly professionals in the climbing community who have been supportive in my business endeavours.
Need help starting or growing a business?
The Next Generation hub can help you with the education, inspiration and funding you need to achieve your business goals. Sign up to the hub today