A former IT manager has discovered the key to achieving a healthy work-life balance by pioneering South Yorkshire’s first CORGI accredited locksmith business after calling on help from a unique business support programme aimed at helping to nurture the talents of the region’s newest entrepreneurs.

After spending much of his career sacrificing precious evenings and weekends to stare bleary eyed at computer screens, when redundancy beckoned, Andrew Dawson-Sawyer saw it as a chance to escape from the rat-race for good and so he began exploring the idea of working for himself.

With three business ideas in the back of his mind and determined to forge a new career for himself built around his love of problem solving, but having never previously worked for himself, Monk Bretton-based Andrew decided to contact the Sheffield City Region’s Launchpad programme for advice.

Unsure whether to try and transform his hobby of building custom motorbikes into a full-time vocation or earn a living from his love of silversmithing, Andrew’s eureka moment came when he enrolled on a locksmith training course. To his surprise he discovered that the industry was largely unregulated and determined to use his skills to help others, he passed his course with flying colours, becoming South Yorkshire’s first accredited CORGI Fenestration Locksmith.

Although perhaps best known for their work in regulating gas safety, the Corgi Fenestration Locksmith scheme was launched in June 2019 in response to pressure to introduce regulation and customer confidence into a largely unregulated industry. After passing his qualifications with flying colours, which saw Andrew tackle some of the toughest locks currently available, he began working with an experienced business advisor to begin developing his business ideas further.

Working with the Launchpad team, Andrew was able to develop the essential skills needed to run his new business. Working with an experienced business adviser Andrew attended a range of workshops which helped him to develop the vital skills needed to run a business, as well as receiving one-to-one business advice and support from the ERDF funded programme.

Having found the key to a winning business formula, Andrew is setting his sights on further business growth, as well as managing to reclaim a better work-life balance.

Andrew Dawson-Sawyer said: “I liked the idea of working with my hands, helping others and solving problems. Working as a locksmith seemed like an ideal way of combining all of these skills, but I was acutely aware that having the skill to do something is very different to having the business acumen to earn a living from it.”

“After spending time researching the business support available in my local area, I contacted the Launchpad team who gave me the confidence to develop my ideas. Having previously undertaken work on behalf of HMRC in a previous role, I wanted to fully understand the tax implications of running a business and also how to build and develop a customer base.”

“Running a business isn’t simple, there are lots of different things to think about and it can be a daunting prospect. Without the help I received from Ben and the Launchpad team in Barnsley I’d probably still be working in an industry I didn’t enjoy. They gave me the confidence to believe in myself and lift the blinkers off to the possibilities which lay ahead.”

Ben Hawley, Business Advisor, Launchpad programme, said: “It was very clear from the day that Andrew approached us that he was determined to carve out a new career for himself. He had lots of different business ideas and we spent time helping him to explore the pros and cons of each idea. Earning his CORGI locksmith qualifications has given Andrew’s business a very unique place in the market and to become not only Barnsley’s but the Sheffield City Region’s first accredited locksmith is a fantastic achievement.”

“The Launchpad programme was developed to help people like Andrew who are very aware of the many different roles business owners undertake – from building a customer base to managing the finances of the company. Our work with Andrew helped him to access specialist training workshops as well as practical one-to-one advice designed to give his business the best possible start as well as ongoing support during the all-important first three years of trading”.

Launchpad is the Sheffield City Region’s key business support programme for new business. Financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within the Sheffield City Region and the Prince’s Trust, the programme provides free help and support to budding entrepreneurs in the City Region. Entrepreneurs who access Launchpad are those who are thinking of starting their own business, or have started trading within the last two years. Further information can be found at www.scrlaunchpad.co.uk.