We are supporting independent retailers in Whitstable

Find out how we can work together to help make your business a success…

In an increasing competitive retail environment we are aware that you need additional and bespoke support. We have therefore created a free business support package delivered by specialist independent business advisers that includes Workshops, 1-2-1 support, seminars and a shop local marketing campaign.

Here’s what some of the independent businesses in Whitstable had to say about our 2016 support programme:

“Brilliant and so beneficial”

“It has been invaluable. I feel a lot more confident”

“The one to one sessions were so helpful as a they were tailored to my business”

We are supporting independent retailers in Whitstable

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Fly Free with FreeFly VR’s Mobile Gaming Headset!

Immersive Experiences

Inspired by his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and by being raised in an environment with great work-life balance, Mark Little started FreeFly VR in October 2013. The business enables customers to connect their mobile phone to the FreeFly VR headset to take sports, gaming, education and horror into a whole new level of immersive experience. It opens the door to hundreds of compatible experiences available on both iTunes and Google Play where you can share new realities with other virtual reality enthusiasts. Mark says the headset has full blackout casing and headphone access and can be used with apps like vTime, enabling you to meet, chat and interact with your friends and meet new people, in fabulous locations under the sea or, for example, in virtual Tuscany! It’s simple to set up with the GLIDE controller and is regularly updated with all the best GLIDE experiences.

Networking & Integrating

FreeFly VR is currently situated in London, but Mark is shortly moving the business to Birchington. In order to help him integrate with the Kent business community ahead of the move, Mark decided to attend the StartMyBiz and GrowMyBiz Kent UNconference this year. He says of the event “it was a great day for our growing business as we were able to meet face to face with our Kent partners, such as AM Marketing who run our Google Marketing and RIFT Accounting who we work with for our accountancy and R&D tax credit requirements. I also loved the talks by local business people and found some really inspiring, particularly the workshop led by Bradley from AM Marketing.”

Achieving Business Goals

As an entrepreneur, what Mark has found most fulfilling is building his team of employees. He delights in watching them innovate and explore the market to produce increasingly better products that have exceeded both his and his customers’ expectations. To help propel his team to success, Mark sets web traffic and sales targets so everyone knows exactly what they need to do to grow the business.  His client base is currently 55% in the USA, 20% in the UK and 25% around the globe.  You can find out more about FreeFly VR via the website www.freeflyvr.com and on Twitter @freeflyvr. Mark also offers customers a “Club Class” membership option through which they get notifications of upcoming Virtual Reality shows and new experiences.

Entrepreneurial Advice

Mark’s excellent advice to other entrepreneurs is, “Speak to other business owners and listen to their stories, they’ve already learned a lot and could help you avoid the mistakes they have made.”

So, if you have ever wondered about Virtual Reality or you are already a loyal VR gamer, watch out for new promotions and experiences on the FreeFly website and be prepared for new “realities” that will blow your mind!

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Start Your Business Here and Succeed

Canterbury is the top location in the southeast for starting a business, according to research out today (Wednesday 26 April).
Domain registration company Nominet also places the city as 16th highest in the whole country in the survey, which identifies where the opportunities are for new owners to harness online interest in their trade.
In addition, the research picks out the best locations for specific services, and shows Canterbury as sixth best for starting a car valet business or a bakery. Cleaners, cafés, grocers and accountancy firms also do well in the city, featuring in the top 20.
Canterbury City Council’s Head of Business and Regeneration, Caroline Hicks, said: “This is brilliant news for Canterbury and the surrounding area. The research shows our economy is strong and that there is plenty of demand, both online and offline, for local products and services.”
The council works closely with the business community in the area and runs its Start-my-Biz and Grow-my-Biz programmes. This is a partnership of various organisations in the district aimed at supporting businesses to start, grow and invest.
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Canterbury City Council is delighted to bring you Expo 17

Canterbury City Council is delighted to bring you Expo 17, Herne Bay’s biggest business and community exhibition. Come along to the King’s Hall, right on the seafront, to find out what’s happening in the local area.

This popular event is celebrating its 10th year! Join more than 60 exhibitors as we bring together local businesses and community groups for an afternoon of networking, sharing ideas, promotion and updating on major projects, including our business support initiative ‘Buy in the Bay’.

  • Meet businesses with great products and services and knowledge to share
  • Expand your network with like-minded business experts
  • Find out more about ‘Buy in the Bay’ and how the council can help your business
  • Meet community groups and see how you can get involved in town life
  • Find out about local events including the air show, sci-fi and festivals

Expo 17 is free to attend. Come and celebrate our 10th birthday and make it our biggest event yet.

Free refreshments at the networking cafe for the first 100 people to visit.

Visit canterbury.gov.uk/expo17 for more details and remember to use #HBExpo17

Register now!

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Expo 17 – Expo is back!

Expo is back with Expo 17! One of the largest business and community exhibitions in Herne Bay takes place on Wednesday 3 May 2017 between 11am and 4pm at the impressive King’s Hall, right on the seafront.

Building on the success of last year’s event that hosted 65 exhibitors, over 600 visitors are expected to attend this year.

Join us at King’s Hall to showcase your business, take advantage of networking opportunities and see what else the district has to offer you.

You’ll also be able to find out how our Buy in the Bay shop local campaign is supporting local businesses.

Watch the video below to get a taste of last year’s event. Stay tuned for more updates on Expo 17.

Book your stand

To book your Expo stand at a cost of £50, please email angela.furlong@canterbury.gov.uk or call 01227 862 262.

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What is Better Business for All (BBfA) Kent & Medway?

BBfa – What is it?

A partnership designed to improve the way regulation is delivered to ease the burden on the local business community.

Who for?

All businesses, but especially SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). All regulators working with the local business community.


By working together to remove real and perceived barriers to growth. By understanding each other’s perspectives we can adapt our approach, tackle obstacles and find solutions.


To create a safe and fair trading environment that:

  • Supports business growth
  • Encourages fair competition
  • Protects consumers


  • Consumer confidence
  • Public safety
  • Local economic growth (jobs and apprenticeships)
  • Safe, happy, thriving communities

Get Advice?

Businesses — find links to the right type of regulatory service support to get assured advice and find useful information on each type of regulatory service and a general downloadable guide for business.

Click here to visit the BBfa website and find out more

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Campaign Films – How Movies Can Be Worth More Than A Million Words (Local Business)

Anton French is a self-employed film maker and Brighton Film School alumni, who runs his two film production companies Curious Films and Campaign Films from his home in Kent. Curious Films makes films for and with the local community and other arts professionals, Campaign Films is an independent production company that creates promotional films and other commercial work for businesses, local authorities and charities, supporting people of all ages and abilities in the community.

Research, Script, Lights, Camera, Action

Anton discovered his passion for film whilst working as an advertising account manager. He began to realise that he no longer wanted to administer other people’s work; he wanted to unleash his own artistic capabilities and create his own films! His highly-experienced team includes a BAFTA award winning writer; a business strategist with expertise in disability, community, local authority and health; and a marketing and research expert with a keen interest in philosophy. Their creative talents combine to enable them to create excellent, broadcast-standard, high-definition films with the right cast and location and great catering, even for clients on a low budget.

Anton and his team always go the extra mile to provide a great customer experience, developing the full potential of their clients’ campaign films by thoroughly researching their target audience and ensuring that the creative piece will engage the right people, in the right place, at the right time. For both promotional and informational films Campaign Films creates imaginative, innovative and accurate scripts in-house and works closely with every client to develop their ideas for the screen. As a local business man himself, Anton says he, “Understands the needs of local businesses. Whether you’re just starting out in a new venture or if you’re established and looking to expand, your potential clients need to find you and engage with you. Film allows you to grab the attention of your clients straight away and to involve them in a way that a body of text just can’t accomplish.”

Creative Gifts

As a hugely creative person Anton admits that one of the hardest aspects of being an entrepreneur is that he is not financially motivated and only wants to make money so that he can continue to produce excellent work that his clients love. There is also a fair amount of competition locally. This is true for a lot of creative professionals and the key to success lies in forging relationships with clients who offer interesting opportunities and value your unique creative gifts and working on your motivation and self-discipline. Business workshops and regularly seeing a mentor are great for keeping a strong business focus.

Growth Planning

Anton first heard of GrowMyBiz by word-of-mouth through a client. He says that the Project has provided him with invaluable information about business support groups in the area and connected him to people who have helped him make decisions on how to grow Campaign Films. He says “It has been inspiring find out that Canterbury City Council is focused on growing the business community through helping individuals such as myself. It has certainly helped grow my confidence too. I have also been able to develop the marketing for the business further due to the contacts GrowMyBiz has given me –  it’s an excellent advisory service that is readily accessible.”

If pictures say a thousand words, then films say a million more! Film is proven to be the most popular and successful form of online communication that gets the highest engagement and most social media shares, so take a look at Anton’s website here (http://www.campaignfilms.co.uk/) and give him a call to see what he can create for your business.

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Enamellist Kate Samuels Can Brighten Up Your Home and Your Day (Local Business)

It’s clear from talking to talented enamel artist Kate Samuels, that she is truly passionate about her art. She gets her inspiration she says, from her children, the sea and “my surroundings, life adventures and sunshine moments; I like things that make me smile.” This happy, upbeat attitude is wonderfully apparent in her brightly coloured, bold, artworks, sculptures, mugs, bowls and plates all bearing uplifting words to brighten your day.

Kate’s process is evolutionary, every piece of work beginning with a moment or several images she has collected from her own experiences on day trips in and around the Kent area and sometimes further field. The beauty of her work and the reason for its popularity with both locals and visitors, is that every piece is a handmade, signed original and every collection reflects a local story. They are created with British steel and enamel from China. Enamel is a great medium for customers as all Kate’s creations are hygiene standard tested, durable and dishwasher proof.

As we so often hear, particularly with successful creative entrepreneurs, enamelling was Kate’s hobby for many years. Once she had children she decided to turn her love for enamelled art into a business so she could create a better work-life balance while also doing a job she loves.

The converted Victorian coach house where she lives with her family houses Kate’s studio and her kiln so she can conveniently work from home. To reach out to the local community Kate runs an open studio once a year, during which people can come to her house and watch her work, enamelling and hand-firing in her kiln. As the Director of Made in Herne Bay she also brings local artists together giving them a platform to discuss their lives and their work and how to market and sell it.  

Below is a video that shows what Made in Herne Bay is all about:

Big trade shows in venues like Olympia have proved a very successful way for Kate raise brand awareness and sell her creations. She has made some great connections through networking and you can find her designs in 20 galleries and shops in the UK and Australia and in many local Kent galleries. Next she is set to conquer New York.  

Kate says she is looking forward to the StartMyBiz, GrowMyBiz and Herne Bay Shop Local projects helping her grow by managing her time more effectively, planning for the future, and finding the funds to take on a new employee. Her advice to entrepreneurs is to stay true to your individuality, as this has always worked so well for her. To see Kate’s designs visit her website at: http://www.katesamuelsdesign.co.uk/

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Get Back to Nature with Khoa Contemporary Jewellery (Local Business)

Back to Nature

Khoa Mahon’s stunning fine silver jewellery is lovingly hand-crafted and incorporates gorgeous freshwater pearls and semi-precious stones. You can see Khoa’s passion for her work as she describes how each piece reflects a different occasion when she has felt connected to the earth’s natural environment. Some items are reminiscent of a leaf or a pebble, others the look of moonlight reflecting in the water or the texture of a seashell. In addition to her talent, what sets Khoa apart as an artist is her careful attention to detail, high quality craftsmanship and determination that every creation is unique and makes the wearer feel special.

Khoa’s love of crafts harks back to when she was a little girl. Knowing from a young age that she wanted to be a jewellery designer, she studied goldsmithing, silversmithing and jewellery design at the Kent Institute of Art and Design (KIAD). She then went on to do her MA in Three Dimensional Design at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA). A desire to be in control of how her very personal designs were marketed and sold, led to the decision to become an entrepreneur and run her own business.

A Passion for Craft

You can find Khoa’s beautiful creations at local craft fairs and exhibitions in the Canterbury District or, if you have an idea for a piece for yourself or a loved one, you can commission her to make a piece to order. To help promote and showcase her own work and that of other talented local artists, Khoa created “Passion for Craft”, an organisation that puts on exhibitions and pop-up craft fairs in local galleries and popular venues like the Horsebridge Arts and Community Centre.  The events which provide a lovely way to while indulging yourselves with gorgeous designs, you can meet the artists to learn more about their work and purchase presents for family, friends or adding to your own accessory collection! Khoa always goes the extra mile to ensure that these events are a great experience for artists and customers alike.

Khoa and StartMyBiz Canterbury

A member of Canterbury City Council’s StartMyBiz Canterbury Project, Khoa says the Project has helped her develop her business in several different ways. A dynamic talk by Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation, at an SMB Bootcamp, gave Khoa a great overview of what she needed to do to set up her business. StartMyBiz then introduced her to a friendly local accounting firm who provided her with free advice. A workshop on how to engage with potential partners and investors also proved invaluable and Khoa says she appreciates the way in which StartMyBiz and GrowMyBiz raise her business profile through their social media channels.

Get Your Own Unique Piece

There is something very special about Khoa’s jewellery and you won’t see anything like it anywhere else. So visit her website or go to a Passion for Craft event or you can find some of Khoa’s jewellery displayed for sale at The Conquest House Gallery in Canterbury and buy a unique piece that will never go out of style.

Website: http://khoa.co.uk/

Twitter: @KhoaMahon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/passionforcraft

The Conquest House Gallery: https://www.artincanterbury.co.uk

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Kent and Medway Business Fund

We’re offering 0% loans between £50,000 and £500,000 to small and medium sized businesses in Ashford, Canterbury, Dartford, Dover, Folkestone and Hythe, Gravesham, Maidstone, Medway, Sevenoaks, Swale, Thanet, Tonbridge and Malling, and Tunbridge Wells.

The scheme aims to deliver investment to businesses across Kent and Medway and is funded by loan repayments from our previous Regional Growth Fund schemes (Expansion East Kent, Tiger and Escalate).

If you have any questions about your application please email kmbf@kent.gov.ukKent and Medway Growth Hub is government funded service provided by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce that provides help and support to new and existing local businesses.

Find out more and submit your pre-application