Ben struggled to find permanent employment. He didn't know what to do until he discovered the Enterprise programme, which helped him to set up his own surf business.
As a child in Bristol, Ben had grown up far away from the sea. He had always loved surfing however, so eventually moved to Swansea to attend university and to pursue his dream.
Having been diagnosed with dyspraxia, Ben faced a number of challenges while growing up. So, after volunteering at an event to help children with autism, he decided he wanted to do more. He managed to secure work at a school helping young people with learning difficulties, but when the contract came to an end, he was left unemployed.
After hearing about our Enterprise programme through friends, he decided to use his passion for surfing to create his business – Surfability UK CIC – which helps people with disabilities and learning difficulties to surf, while also boosting their confidence. He hasn’t looked back since.
When did your business dream start to become a reality?
"I volunteered at some surfing events for people with Autistic spectrum conditions but realised that something regular was needed to help the young people develop.
"I ran a weekly surf club for people with autism through a mainstream surf school. This group was so successful and grew so quickly it made me want to create a specialised service for disabled people. When my job at the special school ended I decided to start Surfability.”
How did the Enterprise programme help?
"The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme helped me to realise that my idea really could work. However, while I knew I had the practical coaching skills, I didn’t have the business knowledge.
“The most helpful thing about the Enterprise programme was learning about business plans on the four day Enterprise course. They take you through the whole process of writing your business plan, step by step and breaking it down into sections.
"A lot of the clients I work with don’t have any other way of getting the support that Surfability gives them. A couple of the lads I’m working with at the moment are really excited about their next session so it makes it all really worthwhile.
Top tips from Ben on setting up a business
"The only reason why I didn’t set up a business sooner was that I didn’t realise, a year, two years ago that I could start a business. I didn’t know how much help was out there.
"If it’s one you feel strongly about, you should make sure you have the support you need – like the support from The Prince’s Trust – and then just go for it.
"Make a clear business plan but don’t be scared to change it. I got a Will it Work grant from The Prince’s Trust, which is a bit of money to help test trading and to see what works and what doesn’t. If you’ve got a plan, it will help you to make sure you’re working on the things that you really need to - don’t go off course and get wrapped up in the work that’s not relevant.
"I enjoy the fact that my business is my responsibility. I can choose my hours so if I decide I want to go surfing, I can do that and fit it around the sessions.
"However, you’ve got to be prepared to put in lots of hours and to be prepared to not pay yourself much at the very beginning of your business."
Anyone can have a great business idea. If you're interested in setting up your own business, get in touch with The Prince's Trust and we could help make it happen.