Our friends at East Durham Business Magazine are featuring MINT in their upcoming issue. We’re excited to share this news with you…
A County Durham business club is celebrating after a year of growth and the expansion of its team.
Launched in 2019 by founder Nicola Jayne Little, MINT Business Club is a support group for small business owners and self-employed people, which has doubled its membership over the past twelve months.
Nicola said: “MINT was founded as a face-to-face membership club where we would meet once a month for training with an online group to stay in touch between sessions.
“The pandemic changed all that as we found ourselves with 90 members who all had small businesses and some of them had no idea what to do or where to go for support as we went into the first national lockdown in March 2020 – just five months after MINT launched. We’d planned a taster session to attract new members in East Durham and Teesside, which we had to cancel and almost start anew.”
Nicola and her business partner, Paul Smissen, were forced to rethink.
Paul added: “We took everything online, there was nothing else we could do. Our members couldn’t meet face to face anymore – and for how long no one knew.
The pair put together a schedule of online training, which members took to immediately.
Nicola said: “I started by doing a live motivational video every day and we went on to deliver training every day too. We gave members a full year worth of training in just a few months.”
A year on, and the business is booming with a team that’s expanded from two to seven people.
Nicola added: “I’ve always been passionate about a self-employed supply chain for MINT Business Club but as we’ve grown I felt it was the right time to create longer-term employment opportunities. The team now is a mix of employees and long-term contractors, each bringing their own set of skills, experience and expertise to MINT and our members.”
Suzanne Whelan, Alan Sawyers, Peter Surridge, Gemma Phillip and Nyomi Tremble now handle all of MINT’s membership management, marketing, IT, admin and social media operations respectively, leaving Paul and Nicola to work on the next phase of growth.
MINT has continued to deliver fully-funded training contacts via its partners, North East Loans Company, Valued Accountancy, and ITEC North East, and the company is also a registered delivery partner of the Kickstart scheme, managed by Peter Surridge. Having placed its first candidates, MINT hopes the scheme will allow young people the opportunity to find meaningful employment when their placements end.
Paul said: “Kickstart is a fantastic scheme that gives 16–24-year-olds on Universal Credit a foot on the employment ladder. We have successfully placed 20 young people into Kickstart roles already and hope that those positions will lead to apprenticeships, training and employment with MINT alongside supporting them as they develop, just like we do our members and their businesses.”