A Corby grandmother has gone from stressed to self-employed thanks to support from a National Lottery funded enterprise programme.
Annette Sutherland, 55, enjoyed a high-flying career as a recruitment consultant before facing redundancy.
At the same time she was caring for her mother, who was suffering from heart failure and pneumonia, and was eventually signed off with stress.
She turned to the Enterprising People programme, funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, for support.
Thanks to this funding Northampton’s Building Business Consultancy Ltd, a partner in the project, was able to offer Annette free advice on setting up her own cleaning business.
Grandmother-of-five Annette, who is originally from Inverness, said: “I loved my old life as a recruitment consultant, a job I’d done for 15 years.
“I loved the buzz, I loved getting new business in, and I always had a real sense of achievement at work.
“So when I was faced with redundancy, my stress levels were really high and the doctor signed me off.
“My mum fell ill and I had to look after her on top of everything else, plus my son Michael and his family moved to Australia.
“I was happy for them but it was hard to see them go.
“My situation had given me the drive to work for myself away from recruitment and to work less hours,” explained Annette, who lives with partner Steve.
“My friend Angie and I had talked about starting a cleaning business together called A&A The Clean Team, and Enterprising People was really helpful in guiding me.”
Annie Hawkins, project co-ordinator at Building Business Consultancy Ltd, supported Annette to set up her business.
She said: “I did some initial research with Annette, to get an overview of what was needed both practically and legally to start a cleaning business.
“We looked at the territory she was aiming to cover, identified how many houses she would need to break even and so on.
“I then helped her with her business plan and we looked at ways she could market her business.
“I’m now looking into securing funding for equipment and marketing.”
A&A The Clean Team has already secured its first clients, and Annette is hopeful that her new business will give her the same sense of achievement as her previous career.
“I’ve already noticed that, with older people especially, it’s as much about offering companionship as the cleaning itself. So that is very rewarding,” she said.
“And I’m already looking to the future, branching out into offices as well as houses, which is exciting.”
Annie added: “Annette had a very positive attitude towards starting her own business, so was a real pleasure to work with.
“She is determined to make it a success which I’m very confident that she will.
“Her great personality will make it easy for her to sell her service, and I’m sure she’ll come highly recommended by anyone that uses A&A Cleaning.”
The Enterprising People programme is managed by training and skills provider The Consultancy Home Counties Ltd (TCHC).
Funding for Enterprising People comes from the Building Better Opportunities initiative, with money provided by the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.
TCHC chairman Dale Morgan said: “Building Better Opportunities is tailor-made for individuals like Annette, who have experienced difficult times but who are determined to change their lives for the better. We wish her every success in the future for her business and are sure that her can-do attitude will stand her in extremely good stead.”
For more information about TCHC and its other services, visit www.tchc.net or call 01923 698 430.
A&A The Clean Team can be found on Facebook, or you can call Annette on 07511 044155.