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Keith Whalen: “PNE’s start-up course was the best thing I could have done.”

Keith Whalen

PNE interaction:
Connecting with PNE through our services supporting teams facing redundancy, Keith attended our start-up business course and received 1-2-1 advice when launching his web development company.

There are many changes in our lives that lead us to reflect on what we want next for our careers, from family to finance to health. For Keith Whalen, it was the prospect of redundancy that led him to start the journey from employee to entrepreneur. 

We had an open day with Melissa Middleton (Business Support Coordinator at PNE) who discussed the options for being self-employed and I had a real lightbulb moment.

Keith’s employer, BAE, had recruited PNE to assist those losing their jobs in the closure of one of its sites, by providing inspiration and advice on starting a business. Those seeking to pursue self-employment were then enrolled on PNE start-up support programmes. Keith was one of those keen to make his idea for a venture into reality. 

“I was building online apps for BAE. I had been developing websites for several years, which I really enjoyed, but they all looked the same for each employer and I really wanted to do something more creative.”  

Keith signed up for our start-up course, which gives aspiring business founders a chance to grow their knowledge and skills in starting and running a business, with topics including planning, finance, marketing, sales and business law. Whilst he was on the courseKeith launched his web development companyFluid Web Development. 

“Attending PNE’s 12-week start-up course was the best thing I could have done. I learned so much, won some customers and it really helped me to focus on what I needed to do to succeed. 

“The most important lesson I learned was that there is more to being self-employed than simply delivering a product. I was very comfortable with the technical side but marketing, bookkeeping, insurance and so on were all an unknown for me. 

In the first year, Keith carved a niche out for Fluid Web Development, catering for start-up businesses in the North East and growing a reputation for honest, quality work. This earned him the Business of the Month Award from PNE and regional recognition through a Business Achievement Award from Enterprising Newcastle.  

Seven years since Keith first met PNEFluid Web Development is still going strong and his designer daughter is working with the business. What’s more, Keith has continued to be a big supporter of North East start-up businesses, sharing his expertise on web development and technical know-how at PNE workshops, and his experiences of entering self-employment with up and coming businesses at our Get Growing Your Networks events. 

I would like to say thank you to PNE, who continue to give me such great advice and support. Anybody thinking of starting a business should talk to these guys first.” 

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