County Down entrepreneur says “yes!” to business ownership

British Business Bank hits £800m start-up funding milestone as loan recipients reflect on saying “yes!” to life-changing decision

By Claire Cartmill
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 5:00 pm
Will Smith from County Down, took out two loans totaling £6,000 to launch Woodwork by Will in January 2020
Will Smith from County Down, took out two loans totaling £6,000 to launch Woodwork by Will in January 2020

Entrepreneurs often dream of opening a business for months, or even years, before they take the leap and set the process in motion.

In every business owner’s life, there comes a moment when they say “yes” and make the decision to work toward becoming a successful business owner.

The timing of that crucial decision point, and the journey to get there, is different for everyone. It can be a moment when they decide to apply for funding, to create a website, or draft up a business plan.

For budding entrepreneurs looking to take their first step into the world of business ownership, however big or small, that vital ‘yes’ moment can be life-changing.

Here, a business owner from Northern Ireland who took out a government-backed Start Up Loan shares what that ‘yes’ moment looked like for them, how they got to that point, and how it felt, to inspire others who might be considering starting a business in 2022.

Will Smith, from County Down, took out two loans totaling £6,000 to launch Woodwork by Will in January 2020, to follow an ambition of making his bespoke creations available for others to buy.

The support Will received from the British Business Bank has enabled the company to increase its capacity and take on larger projects earlier than expected. He used the money to invest in essential machinery, including a table saw.

Will Smith, founder of Woodwork by Will, said: “A number of factors come into play when deciding to say ‘yes’ to starting a business. For me, the most important factor was being able to do what I love for others and create my own working environment in the process.

“When I started my business, I felt nervous and anxious, but I was determined. I was nervous that people wouldn’t like my furniture and anxious about taking the financial leap, but I really believed that my business would work.”

Richard Bearman, managing director of Start-Up Loans, added: “Delivering over 90,000 loans and providing £800 million of funding is a huge milestone for the programme and reflects the ambition and determination the nation’s small businesses have demonstrated over the past few years.”

“It’s brilliant to hear the stories of how Northern Irish business owners felt when they said ‘Yes’ to becoming their own boss. Our Ambassadors often tell us that, despite how nerve-wracking it may be to start a business, saying ‘Yes’ and firmly making the decision to go for it is half the battle.

“Start Up Loans offer many great resources for entrepreneurs on the cusp of saying ‘yes’ to starting a business. Our pre-loan support package, and mentoring scheme once a loan has been provided, mean all recipients are supported during one of the most exciting, but daunting, decisions of their lives.”

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