Holly Thompson set up Future Skills Vision, which helps businesses to improve and grow, after working in education for many years. She talks to BQ about what inspired her to enter this year's If We Can You Can competition, and what advice she would give to other entrepreneurs
What did you do before setting up your business?
Most recently I worked in education, specifically digital & technology, and had done for several years. During this time, I gained experience across apprenticeships, further and higher education, which included leading and managing teams. My original field of expertise was software development, which is something I still very much have a passion for.
What inspired you to set up your business?
Over the years I have come across many different types of businesses and business people, some of which I have found very inspirational. To see those who had the courage to really go for it on their own was a true inspiration. I think I have always had some form of entrepreneurial desire, just hadn’t come across the right opportunity or the timing wasn’t right.
What makes this business different?
I would say my passion, tenacity and ambition, as at the heart of my business is a desire to support and develop people whether this is within industry or the education sector and support many different types of organisations to collaborate by connecting them. Our strapline “Harnessing your people power” really is what we do, we help businesses to grow talent from within harnessing all of those skills to grow or improve their business. We focus on supporting businesses to build an effective talent pipeline seamlessly blending apprenticeship, graduate and internship schemes with experienced hire and up-skilling & retraining opportunities. We collaborate with many partner organisations to subsequently deliver the highest quality training, using bespoke programmes that the businesses have designed for their employees. With the view that looking after your people will in turn generate additional growth and revenue.
What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?
In my opinion it really celebrates the spirit of entrepreneurship, the idea that “If We Can You Can” is inspiring in itself, but I actually know of a number of colleagues who have entered and found it a really positive experience. I had the opportunity to attend the final event last year as a guest and it was fantastic!
Where do you see your business in three years’ time?
There is growth on the horizon for FSV, I am keen to ensure we retain adaptability and flexibility amidst a growing client base across the North East. I have ambitions to be operating on a national scale but maintaining the agility of a small team, as this is what makes our service unique in its approach, and makes us able to deliver the level of personalisation our clients expect.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
So far, quite simply to create something that didn’t exist before and to see months of hard work paying off, which has subsequently allowed me to build a team and become the leader of a growing business.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I have faced on a personal level is dealing with the career change. At whatever stage of your life you change career it is hard, and it is a huge challenge, and to be honest, I think I underestimated the amount of time you need to adjust as an individual.
Who/what gave you support or advice?
There have been many amazing people who have supported me along this journey from my immediate friends and family, who make it all worthwhile. To the work colleagues and business owners I am now connected with. I joined Entrepreneurial Spark (powered by NatWest) in Newcastle in February of this year, and I have to say the support I have received there has been excellent. Their approach is unique putting you as an individual first alongside your business and I have to say I would not be accelerating the business at the pace I am now without the support of the Newcastle hub team.
What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?
Do it! Once you get over that initial fear you will never look back, no matter how challenging the days are, it is so much more rewarding.