Two entrepreneurs who took a ‘leap of faith’ to come off benefits and start their own company have achieved their goal in just one year.
Katie Ives, 36, and partner Mark Noel, 42, from Mildenhall, were seeking help from the Jobcentre to start their own business with little success when they decided to take matters into their own hands.
Many training courses and a qualification later, they founded social media management company On The Button, offering help to small businesses in Mildenhall and Bury St Edmunds.
After a year struggling to keep their family of four afloat on between £70 and £120 a week, Katie and Mark have finally started taking a salary.
Katie said: “We’d never been out of work before so it was very hard for us.”
They sought help from Andrew Manig, director of Manig Business Advice & Training, who became their ‘unofficial mentor’.
Katie said: “We owe Andrew everything. He went above and beyond what was required, helping us through every stage of the process.”
Katie said coming off benefits, which she and Mark used to support themselves and her two teenage daughters, was a difficult decision.
“It was a huge leap of faith,” she said. “We also had to go to Peterborough to pick up Mark’s son when he came to stay with us, which has been a struggle.”
Katie still invested £30 a week in bus fares for her daughters, Molly, 14, and Tess, 16, who both attend County Upper School, in Bury.
“It was hard, but it was worth the sacrifice for their education,” she said.
Katie and Mark are now expanding On The Button to offer social media workshops, teaching businesses how to manage their online profile.
The company received initial financial support from Forest Heath District Council, which has recently given it another boost – offering to subsidise its workshops for businesses in the district.
Katie said: “The council’s belief in us kept us going, and this most recent decision has given us the confidence to say, ‘We are capable of this’.”
The partners currently run the business from their home, in Mill Park Gardens, but hope to soon start renting an office.
Katie added: “We also want to take on an apprentice, to give back to someone in the horrible position we were in.”