If something is free, it could mean that it’s crap. It could also mean that someone else is paying for it. And it could even mean that there is a bigger reason behind the product or service.
For the last 5 years, Acorn Enterprise has run nine FREE 20 week Business Accelerator Programmes. Seven in Fife, located in Rosyth Business Centre, and we’re almost finished our second in the Flour Mill Dundee.
During this time we have had the privilege of working with an eclectic bunch of exciting new business owners in Fife and Dundee! Each one unique and special. Each one with their own story, their own challenges, and their own dreams.
On the Programme, we work with new business owners to develop: confidence, business skills and clarity. We do this by providing: office space in a collaborative environment, weekly seminars to develop and challenge, and a business mentor who provides an extra layer of accountability.
We have worked with over 80 new businesses in Fife and Dundee, who we call “Acorns”. Over this time, our Programmes have been free and we don’t take equity in their business. “So, how does Acorn Enterprise make money?”…
“How is Acorn Enterprise Funded?”
The the quick answer for now is: we’re NOT!
Unlike many of the “business support agencies” in the Scottish “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem”, Acorn Enterprise has not received any funding. No funding from the Council, no funding from the Scottish Government and no funding from any grants or trusts.
Acorn Enterprise is 100% self-funded. We are run by business owners, for business owners.
We generate revenue through the important work we do with Colleges and Universities across the UK, to enhance the student experience through enterprise. We also make money by offering other services, such as helping new businesses with their digital marketing. And there are some other very exciting plans in the future!…
Acorn Enterprise know our customers take a lot of pride in knowing that by working with us, their money is directly helping to grow the UK’s entrepreneurial culture!
Unlike others, we don’t go cap in hand and beg for money. We make our own and use this to directly help fledgling businesses. Every penny we earn is directly invested into helping other new businesses grow.
This also means we know EXACTLY what the new businesses we work with are going through because we are in the trenches with them for our own business: creating value, making sales, and everything else in between.
We’re not here to tick boxes or fluff out “Impact Reports”, we’re here to make a real impact on people’s lives.
Since we receive absolutely no funding, why would we choose to run a Programme that doesn’t actually make us any money for now?! It is a wee bit mad!
Why Does Acorn Enterprise Exist?
Jerry Alexander and I launched Acorn Enterprise in Fife in June 2013 because we felt there was a real need for support for new businesses that was: structured, intensive and entrepreneurial-led.
We were frustrated at the support being offered to new businesses in Fife so decided to do something about it.
What started off as a pilot Programme in Rosyth Business Centre, has now run nine times across Fife and Dundee. 70% of the businesses we have worked with are still trading and growing, something we are extremely proud of!
We know that startups have little money so we decided to offer the Programme for free for the time being. And we don’t take any equity because our goal is to genuinely help new business owners and make a difference, without any strings attached.
In short, Jerry and I simply want to create the support we wish we had when we were starting our own businesses.
Other Business Accelerators do take equity and that’s cool too, this is just not a path we want to go down at this stage. However, many of our Acorns have gone on to secure private investment. And we have also been known to financially invest in some of the new businesses we support.
“Is the Programme Any Good?”
Another question we get asked is, “if the Programme is free, is it any good?”.
No actually, our Business Accelerator Programme isn’t good. It’s Awesome!
Now, of course we’re going to say that! Here’s what some of the Acorns we have worked with over the last few years have to say about the Programme:
- “It made me realise that I’m really not alone” – Shahieda Erkamp, Shades of Mocha.
- “My focus and drive has improved and I feel more professional in my behaviour and work. The best thing is having the support and friendship of the other Acorns, even though we are a diverse bunch.” – Jane Camillin, Pitch Publishing
- “Acorn Enterprise helped me find myself” – Scott Burrell – Red Rock Music.
And you can also watch this cheeky video below [3.32 mins] to found out what the Acorns said about the Acorn Enterprise Business Accelerator Programmes in Fife and Dundee!
We also couldn’t run without the tireless support of other business owners who run seminars for us and mentor out Acorns. We have some truly world-class facilitators on board and we feel very lucky and proud to work with them and offer this to new businesses in Fife and Dundee!
“If the Programme is free, do people really value it?”
The majority of the “Acorns” have completed the Programme, however, over the years, a few have decided to leave the Programme before the end or were asked to leave. That’s perfectly normal for any course.
We would rather people discovered early on that running a business isn’t for them, in the safe and supportive environment that Acorn Enterprise provides.
We have strict rules on attendance and performance and if these are not met, the business owner may be asked to leave. Just because the Acorn Enterprise Business Accelerator Programme is free, does not mean we don’t take it seriously. In fact, we take it very seriously. It’s not just our job, it is our passion!
To sum up, the Programme is free for the time being because we are determined to make a real difference and we know new businesses have little money. Despite the fact that it’s free, the Programme is awesome! It changes lives.
We have had the privilege of doing that for nearly 5 years now through 9 Programmes, working with around 80 new businesses in Fife and Dundee. It would not be possible for us to run the Programme without our Partners or the help and support of a lot of good people who: run seminars for us, mentor the Acorns and help in other ways.
Thank you for your continued support from all of Team Acorn x
To find out what we can do together, get in touch with Team Acorn here now.
P.S. If you’re a new business owner in Dundee and are considering applying for the 10th Acorn Enterprise Business Accelerator Programme, join the Waiting List here now!
This will run September 2018 – January 2019, in the Flour Mill, Dundee.