The idea for The Accessible Guide had festered in my thoughts for a few years prior to founding the Company. It is not an easy task starting a new business from scratch, and knowing who to turn to for advice can be a daunting experience. Fortunately, a friend of mine, Steve Shotton, had started the Start Up Programme at the School for Social Entrepreneurs and had glowling recommendations of both.
I applied to the same programme in 2014, and after attending a couple of introductory sessions, that formed part of their selection process, I was invited to an interview. At the interview, I was able to pitch the idea of The Accessible Guide, at this point though we hadn’t even come up with a name of the platform. Whilst the interview and pitch had gone well, I had concerns that the timing wasn’t quite right as at the end of the day, it was just an idea.
I was delighted to be chosen to be part of the 2015-16 programme. At the School for Social Entrepreneurs, I was part of a supportive cohort of individuals. All of us were on similar journeys, but we were all at different stages. It was quite unique, but very supportive, and the experience helped me find my voice and overcome issues and concerns. The programme itself was varied, with different activities and sessions, all of which were inspiring. The opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and organisations gave me the belief and confidence in moving forward with the business idea. Being a social entrepreneur can be a lonely experience, and one of the things I gained from the programme was learning how to be resilient.
In 2016, after the conclusion of the Start Up Programme, I graduated to become a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and shortly afterwards, we registered The Accessible Guide as a Community Interest Company.
It has been a tough couple of years for everyone due to the pandemic, and my resilience has been tested to the core. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy ride and had anticipated and expected bumps along the way.
It has taken us longer than expected to launch The Accessible Guide, we are now at the start of a new chapter. One that is filled with excitement, desire and confidence. The School for Social Entrepreneurs have been integral, and the role they have played in supporting my professional development, and also my personal development, is something I will always be grateful for.