Did you know there is a national chain of intellectual property centres full of information specialists and business advisers - and all available for free? Mal Williamson explains all…
Down at the library you can not only access IP guidance through these PatLib centres but also get the latest business reports, market research databases and company databases. This info and data might cost thousands of pounds on the open market. And much of this is available online from the ease and comfort of your desk – register now with your library card.
If that sounds difficult, with Hull Business & IP Centre you also get the expert search and retrieval advice of the information specialists.
Hull Library is unique among the 16 countrywide centres because it also has the Business Lounge. This is attracting attention from other centres as libraries, like the rest of us, look to discover new income streams.
The Business Lounge is similar to other network offerings in the city and properly avoids using public funds to undercut commercial operations by charging a similar £25 a month for its Wi-Fi-enabled lounge area with free refreshments. Hot-desks and private meeting rooms are also available and you can have your own office pod for £70 per week.
What is the Business Lounge USP?
“We are here to help the local economy grow and to encourage more people to access support,” says manager Nikki Mellors. “Our support is often one-to-one and bespoke – plus we offer a range of webinars and group workshops to develop businesses.”
Yours truly, Creator Coach, presents weekly online sessions and I can testify to the enthusiasm and expert hand-holding involved. This is a great support service with your own allocated business adviser.
“I am always amazed by the range of people we work with – photographers, retail, cleaners,” adds Nikki. “We have it all and are able to help them regularly. Plus, they can all gain from each other, finding customers and colleagues. Our work depends on the individual and their business and what their needs are.”
As well as treading the London theatre boards and a career in museums, Nikki has been in business herself for eight years so knows the stresses and demands alongside the good life.
“I remember my international agent going bust at the same time as my main manufacturer. Difficult times! You can feel vulnerable when you are solely responsible for the decisions. At work I can ask someone else but in your own business you turn around… and it’s just you.”
How to make those decisions? The Business & IP Centre recommends the use of the business model canvas, which takes newcomers and experienced alike through a great audit of your business process.
“For everything we do we have the feedback form and we evaluate it and learn and grow from it,” says Nikki. “We have pivoted to online because of lockdown and may well continue that when we open up.”
To have start-up and business growth support within the libraries ensures what the Business & IP Centre Network calls democratising entrepreneurship.
“Our over-arching aim is to make things as accessible as possible,” says Nikki. “It’s in everybody’s interests that businesses succeed. The Business Lounge is a place where people can come together, network and swap skills, ideas and services.”
Following a successful bid with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the service will be expanded soon with its Bounce Back programme. You can access all of its business services at any Hull library, email [email protected] or tweet @bipchull.