Up to eight start-up businesses in Staffordshire are set to benefit from a free membership offer from the county’s largest business networking organisation.
BNI Staffordshire is offering free membership to one 2020 start-up at each of its established networking groups in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire Moorlands and Stafford Borough as part of a UK and Ireland programme known as the BNI Givers Gain Grant. With groups recording over £9.7 million in invoiced business transactions in 2019, the offer has the potential of giving the eight start-ups a significant boost over the next 12 months.
Tony Altham, (main image) BNI Staffordshire Executive Director, said: “Covid-19 has hit companies hard but it has also seen many budding entrepreneurs make the break from full time employment to start up their own company. Establishing a referral pipeline is key to any business success at any time, but perhaps even more so right now. At BNI Staffordshire, our members have stayed strong during lockdown, have continued to meet weekly, via Zoom, and kept the referrals flowing.
“The offer of free memberships is worth around £5,960 + VAT, as an annual membership comes in at just over £745 + VAT per member, but the average return on investment for our members comes in at 15 to 20 times this. On top of this, there’s all the free advice from members as each BNI Chapter offers a strong support network and BNI provides, training, coaching, mentoring and networking skills for its members. Effectively, you get trusted advisers, ambassadors for your business and a sales team of like-minded local business leaders who want to help you achieve your goals.”
The eight BNI chapters where new companies can apply are: BNI Sir Stanley Matthews, BNI Network and BNI Wedgwood, normally based at the Upper House, Barlaston, BNI Izaak Walton, based at the Moat House, Acton Trussell, BNI Britannia, based at the North Stafford Hotel, Stoke, BNI James Brindley, based at the Hotel Rudyard, near Leek, BNI at 10am and BNI Victory Stoke, both based at the Moat House, Etruria.
Each chapter offers places to one member per business sector, and applicants for the free place will be considered on this basis. Each chapter has a management committee which will assess applications. The start-ups must be the applicants main work activity, not a side project, and they must be new in 2020.
Chapters have continued to find opportunities for members during 2020 . Laura Smith, President of BNI Sir Stanley Matthews said: “ While lockdown and furlough has presented challenges, we have remained optimistic and active. Around 30 members attend via Zoom each week and we’ve referred over £1.1 million of invoiced business, which is not far short of last year’s figures which were a new record for our members. I set up my own company, Red Cloud Business Services in 2019, and found the advice from BNI members invaluable and integral to our business growth.”