YOUNG entrepreneurs in South Lakeland have been enjoying success after using a service that offers businesses expert advice to help them grow.

South Lakeland District Council’s (SLDC’s) business advice programme has been running since 2012 and has helped create more than 150 jobs and led to the start-up of over 110 new businesses.

Figures released last week showed that the employment rate in the Westmorland and Lonsdale parliamentary constituency is in the highest two per cent nationally, with just 0.6% of the economically active population claiming unemployment benefits.

Kellie Bradburn-Sims delivers the SLDC business advice programme, which has helped 21-year-old Ben Grenville Evans move his business Level 8 Games into new premises on Finkle Street, Kendal.

Mr Grenville Evans opened his business in 2013, selling video games from a stall in Kendal’s covered market.

A keen gamer himself, he expanded the business to sell card-based board games and now specialises in selling gaming equipment and resources.

As the business outgrew its stall in the market, he was given help by the council on relocating to the new premises seven months ago.

While the council’s Invest in South Lakeland economic development team assisted with the premises negotiations, he used the council’s business support programme for help with a financial review of expenses and income, a cashflow forecast, business planning, marketing, guidance with staffing and to get an overview of health and safety requirements.

“Having not run a shop before, I had no experience of the day-to-day commitments this type of business would need," he said. "Fortunately, I have plenty of offers for help and having a business adviser on hand to guide me through the process and talk through plans was really helpful.

“There are always opportunities to improve, expand and develop your business in new ways but it’s not always easy to identify them, and that’s where a business adviser comes in."

The business programme has also helped Stuart Pearce, 26, from Kendal, by giving useful advice about how to develop his company, 54 Floral Clothing.

Mr Pearce set up the business, which sells a range of clothing he designs himself, in 2013.

He now sells the clothing via his own website and pop-up shops – including using the council’s own pop-up unit in Kendal - and his products are stocked in 12 stores nationwide and on 10 online shopping sites.

The business advice programme is part of SLDC’s key ambition to create 1,000 new higher paid jobs in the district by 2025 and to support and promote the growth of existing businesses.

Mrs Bradburn-Sims said: "It has been a fantastic experience working with SLDC to deliver business advice and support across the district.