Foundation Degree boosts enterprising entrepreneurs

Photo of Deborah Meaden with Foundation Degree Business Start-up graduates Tina Rees, Julie Lou Weston, Emily Walker and Mary-Anne Rapson.

Budding entrepreneurs are being given the skills and guidance to launch their own businesses through a new course at Staffordshire University Business School.

The Foundation Degree in Business Start-up has now seen its first cohort of graduates successfully start their own enterprises, ranging from book keeping to photography.

Emily Walker, 28, from Stoke-on-Trent, runs Semi-Permanent Make-up and Medical Tattooing, which includes cosmetic treatments and confidence boosting help for people with conditions such as cancer or alopecia.

She said: “I visit different salons delivering an advanced form of makeup that lasts on average 12 months, such as eye brow or lip enhancements.

“The other side of the business is medical tattooing, which can include cancer patients that are going through chemotherapy, where we can replace eyebrows for example, or camouflage scars for burn victims.”

Emily added: “I wanted to get on the Foundation Degree for various reasons: the resources that are offered by the University, the access and networking opportunities, there is a lot to be learnt from the lecturers about the different ways of doing business and promoting your company.”

Julie Lou Weston, 40, from Stoke-on-Trent, completed the two year Foundation Degree and topped this up with a third year to gain a BA(Hons) in Entrepreneurship for the Creative and Cultural Industries. She now runs iArtizan, a photography practice. 

Julie said: “I was working in an office, in finance, before this, and I’m now running my own photography business. 

“The course has taught me skills that I’ve then been able to apply to my work. It has helped me to think outside the box and be a bit more creative in how I run my business and what I'm doing to promote it.” 

She added: “I’d like to take iArtizan as far as I can, possibly with some kind of training academy down the line, so I can give something back to the photography industry.”

Tina Rees, 42, from Stafford, set up Advance - Business and People Development Ltd during the second year of her course. The company delivers vocational training programmes throughout the West Midlands.

She said: “I have 20 years worth of experience in the industry. I have been successful in helping people get the vocational qualifications they need to get into their chosen career or move up the ladder in their current jobs.

“My focus is on the vocational side of training, through NVQ's and Enterprise, and I also support new business start-ups with policies and procedures.”

Mary-Anne Rapson, 36, from Stoke-on-Trent, spent more than 10 years in the bookkeeping business before deciding to use her experience to launch Flexibooks Bookkeeping.

She said: “It’s bookkeeping for small businesses, where they might only need a bookkeeper for a few hours a week, a month or a quarter instead of full-time.

“The course has helped me to get the business off the ground and given me the skills to run it. The long term goal, one day, would be to employ people to take it that step further.”

Course leader for FD Business Start-up, Stephen Kelly, added: “The course is specifically designed to develop entrepreneurship, enterprise and management skills in a supportive environment.

“It follows a systematic process of starting up, developing and managing a business. The Business School is fully committed to entrepreneurship and enterprise and this is a piece of that jigsaw.”


Maria Scrivens
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