Member Article

Creative Solutions are inspired to new levels

Creative Solutions North East Ltd was set up by Keith Blakeman in 2009 after he was made redundant as an IT manager for a multi million pound food distribution business that went into administration. Initially Keith decided to provide computer repair services (albeit reluctantly), as this was an area that he had ample experience of, but did not particularly enjoy.

After a few months however an opportunity arose for Keith to change direction and to create a website for a business with a turnover of around £100 million. With the client clearly impressed by his work, Keith decided that web design should be the main focus of his business in the future.

Keith quickly began to secure some impressive clients and completed deals with various companies to design websites on their behalf. However with the work load increasing at a rapid pace Creative Solutions North East Ltd soon needed to take on more staff. All staff employed to date were previously unemployed, and one had been on benefits for over seven years.

Keith soon realised however, that to move the business forward once again he would need to review the organisation and its structure, and he believed this could only be achieved with external support. Accordingly he contacted David Steel of Facet Solutions Ltd hoping to benefit from their unique engagement solutions.

Coaching and mentoring delivered by David was supported for an initial three month period by funding from NBSL which is a D-BIS (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills) approved and regulated Local Enterprise Agency. Over the last 8 years NBSL has delivered the North East’s Leadership & Management Advisory Service, funded by D-BIS’s Skills Funding Agency. Under NBSL this programme has gone from strength to strength, engaging directly with more than 1,000 SMEs each year.

In order to continue the programme NBSL has secured ERDF investment of £2.38 million to deliver support to the North East’s private sector businesses employing between 2 – 249 employees, and funding is still available which provides grant support of up to £1,000 for businesses like Keith’s that need coaching for growth.

Keith commented “The application process with NBSL was simple and straight forward allowing us to engage Facet Solutions in real time to allow the engagement to have real time impact within the business“. Keith was then able to secure additional funding to allow the program to progress over a longer period therefore having an even greater impact on his business.

Facet Solutions Ltd (which is an approved and key provider of NBSL’s business growth and leadership and management programmes) offers a number of bespoke interventions which support businesses at all stages of development. Keith undertook the “Bridge the Gap” programme for established business owners and a review was undertaken of all aspects of his organisation as well as Keith’s personal aspirations. This allowed Keith to focus the business on specific goals and aspirations, and the outcomes have been very impressive, as Keith commented,

“Over the last few months we have been working with David. He has helped us tremendously, not only in the business but as an individual I found his input and support to be fantastic, making a big difference to me and ultimately my company.

Before working with David we lacked some of the drive to move forward getting bogged down with everyday issues with no one to talk to. It really does make a difference having a friendly ear, from a knowledgeable and professional individual.

David has helped us focus the business and brought in accountability, meaning tasks are done in a timelier manner driving the business to greater success. We now have more work more regularly, and some great systems in place, taking stress out of the day to day running of the business in addition to taking on new staff. We have seen a genuine return on our investment of over ten fold, money well spent!“

NBSL still has limited funding available to support businesses, so if you would like to benefit from grant funding of up to £1,000 towards the cost of developing a strategy for your business, and get your business on the road to growth, contact NBSL now on 01670 813322 or apply online at

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Phil Langton .

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