The Inclusive Business Launch Pad: Supporting Entrepreneurs for Commercial Success

Written by Yasin Hussain


IBL: What is it? 

The Inclusive Business Launch Pad (IBL) is a collaborative program with the aim of promoting equal opportunity in entrepreneurship.  The innovative program is designed to empower disadvantaged micro-business owners across Europe. Inova Consultancy and our sister company, Inova Aspire have been working on the project with participants in the Netherlands and the UK. This includes migrants, people with disabilities, lone parents, 50+ individuals, and women, all groups who face extra challenges and obstacles to building businesses. IBL consists of a bespoke training program that includes workshops focused on turning knowledge into action and helping businesses grow/maximise positive outcomes. It also provides peer mentoring and support through ‘Inclusive Business Launchpad Circles” which were open to those who attended the training workshops and provided more individual, ongoing support. 

Most of the participants for the in-person program services were located within the vicinity of Doncaster City. They also mostly included people who were early-stage startups, or micro/small businesses who were struggling to grow. Some disadvantages that these early-stage entrepreneurs mentioned were limited funds as well as a lack of access to the tools and knowledge needed to start or expand their businesses. Ultimately, this led them to participate in the IBL training program. 

Inclusive Business Launch Pad Training Pilots: 

The May Launchpad pilots had 12 participants on day 1 and 11 participants on day 2. All sessions took place at Premier Inn, Doncaster. The Launch Pad was rated 5/5 by 75% of the participants. This excellent rating was given for the methodology being relevant to participant needs and for the program allowing independent thinking. The November Launchpad pilot of the Workshop was attended by 11 participants. 77% of the attendees said they benefited from the sessions as they served as a catalyst for them to revive their businesses from stagnation.Participants included but were not limited to florists, dog trainers, owners of car wash workshops, mental health business owners, and property investors. The entrepreneurs were able to develop technical skills as well as soft skills by attending workshops that introduced essential business concepts like business auditing, the Industry Life Cycle, grant applications, negotiation models, and more.

Participants were able to identify their areas of focus through mentoring and Think Tanks. The sessions also allowed attendees to reflect on their self-talk and manage their limiting beliefs through positive psychology via presentations and collaborative working. Group sharing made participants feel less alone in their personal and professional struggles and also made networking easier throughout the event. 

Overall feedback was positive, with one entrepreneur stating: 

“The tailored approach! I liked it as it focused on examples from my own business.”  (IBL Circles National Report). 

IBL Circles:

The IBL Circles took place in June and December and provided a chance for participants to work together to put into action some of the goals they had set themselves during the Launch Pad training sessions. Participants included freelance writers, kitchen business owners, consultancy owners (and more); all wanting to take their businesses to the next level. 80% of attendees benefited from the program being aimed at the right level and said they would recommend it to others. (IBL Circles National Report). The session’s Soft Skills self-assessments allowed participants to figure out their strengths and weaknesses. Participants formed goals for their businesses using the SMART goals framework, introduced within the session. Attendees explored Action Planning to build strategies to meet their goals. Concepts like ‘Reticular Activating System’ and ‘Handling multiple priorities using the Eisenhower Matrix’ were discussed to allow participants to elaborate their strategies. By the end of the session, participants benefited by having created a custom, holistic, and sustainable business plan ready for implementation. Overall, the sessions were received very positively, with entrepreneurs stating: 

“The Circles program has been extremely worthwhile in helping me find a focus and determine which direction and next step to take. I was feeling overwhelmed with the variety of tasks I need to do in my business, but I have been able to narrow it down and figure out the next step.” (IBL Circles National Report)

“Amazing opportunity to get to know other local businesses and develop a network of like-minded people who motivate and encourage each other.” (IBL Circles National Report)

The IBL program has been a success with business owners throughout the year. The main points for improvement were to have more sessions over a longer period; further indicating that the sessions were helpful and highly beneficial to entrepreneurs.


by Carolyn Usher

International Project Manager & Trainer/Coach

Carolyn joined Inova in 2011 and is a Project Manager, trainer and coach. She is passionate about development and supporting people to achieve their dreams. Carolyn has a PGCert in Coaching and Mentoring from Sheffield Hallam University, BA in Communication and Cultural Studies and a MA in Cultural Policy and Management.

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