A qualified coach from Cardiff launches her own business, helping people and organisations navigate the path to sustainable living.

With over 20 years’ experience running events, workshops and training , Mary Duckett started Ecobalance Courses to provide courses and coaching to individuals and organisations, helping them discover a way to sustainable, ethical living. Mary got in touch with the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service for help starting up, and thanks to advisory support, was able to launch the business in 2020.

  • workshops on starting up, managing finances and tax
  • start-up advice, including insurance, marketing and winning business
  • commitment to the Business Wales Green Growth and Equality pledges to help with tendering opportunities
  • successfully started

Introduction to business

Launched by Mary Duckett, Ecobalance Courses offers a range of courses, aimed to educate individuals, teams and organisations about the interconnected relationships between economics, the environment, social justice and wellbeing.

Ecobalance Courses’ purpose is to help people discover and navigate their own routes for sustainable, positive and ethical change via reflective and practical exercises.

Why did you decide to set up your own business?

I have a 20-year career background in community development and community services, and, therefore, am very familiar with project management as well as setting up activities, events and training. However, these were always in the context and security of being employed by an employer.

In January 2020, I left my job, and realised I needed to establish my own business. At the time, I had lost my self-confidence and didn’t think I could get back into employment via the standard recruitment processes. So, on a needs-must basis and in response to an inner calling, I began the journey of setting up Ecobalance Courses.

Why is sustainability important to you and your business?

The inner calling is my life-long deep love of earth, the natural world and humanity as well as a commitment to quality of life and equality of life for all. These two elements are like a double helix that run through me, the most profoundly important part of being me.

In March, the UK went into lockdown and interestingly, seemed to increase the emphasis of humankind reflecting on our impact on earth and towards each other. The virus put a painful spotlight on our mal-practice in relation to other animals, nature and the terrible human inequalities we have created and sustained through our most dominant economic systems. During international lockdowns, there were calls for “no more business as usual”. It felt like Ecobalance Courses was forming at a timely time – as well as a strange and unprecedented time.

In response to climate and social justice crises we are collectively grappling with, Ecobalance Courses are for personal and team development, as well as organisational systems change. I believe we have the choice and ability to transform our systems, to support ecological health and human wellbeing.

Business Wales support

After attending a number of Business Wales workshops on starting up, tax and finance, Mary worked with a business adviser, Yusuf Behardien, who walked her through the start-up process and supported her with a variety of aspects, including business planning, financial management, marketing, business set-up and legalities, enabling the successful launch of Ecobalance Courses.

Outcomes

  • workshops on starting up, managing finances and tax
  • start-up advice, including insurance, marketing and winning business
  • commitment to the Business Wales Green Growth and Equality pledges to help with tendering opportunities
  • successfully started

To assist my journey with the business expertise and advice I needed, I contacted Business Wales and started attending some of the various workshops available for business start-ups. I highly recommend these as I found the quality of information provided and accessibility of the tutors really great. A lifeline when I was going through a period of overwhelming flux. I was fortunate to be allocated Yusuf as my business adviser and benefited from regular one-to-one meetings, guidance and support. Our discussions covered everything, from my business plan, legalities and finance, to marketing and networking. As I am unemployed, I also have support from the Job Centre and Lynne Berg under the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme, and am in the process of finalising the Ecobalance Courses business plan to register as a sole trader in December.

I am really grateful to both Yusuf and Lynne for their business start-up advice and support. I feel quite emotional when I think of how much their support helped me during a personally, and internationally, challenging time. Thank you.

If anyone is considering starting their own business, I greatly recommend they contact Business Wales, whatever their circumstances. Definitely attend the brilliant information and training sessions available, and one-step at a time, you will create and follow your own pathway to becoming self-employed! Good luck.

Future plans and ambitions

After planning and advertising during the summer, in October 2020, I held my first free taster sessions online. These were four sessions covering conscious consuming and sustainable governance, which provided an excellent opportunity to learn how to use various online platforms, including Zoom, Eventbrite, Survey Monkey and Canva, as well as practicing the content I had written. Prior to lockdown, my business idea had been intended for delivery in person! The sessions were a success, especially considering the week I chose to launch, turned out to be the week before the second lockdown in Wales. I gained excellent and valuable feedback from participants, including everyone confirmed they are considering personal changes because of the session they attended.

I am now developing the next set of Ecobalance Courses (Ecobalance for Business (SMEs) and Altruism, Self-Care and Social Justice) – free online tasters which will run January and February 2021. There will also be a release of pre-pay sessions on Conscious Consuming and Sustainable Governance.

Ecobalance for Business (SMEs) will include reference to the Business Wales’ Green Growth Pledge, looking at a case study of the supply chain and outlining a framework for your business to prepare an Environmental Policy Statement. The latter is useful as it is also required for submitting tenders via Sell2Wales. Please note, this learning is transferrable and useful for businesses in other areas of the UK.

Thank you Business Wales, I am looking forward to the future of Ecobalance Courses!

If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.

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