Firstly, let me introduce myself to those members I am yet to meet.
I’m Chris Cooper and am one of the 4 directors of Seofon Business Services based in Horsham. We have 10 people in the team in total and deliver bookkeeping, payroll, admin and mentoring support to small businesses.
The Executive Committee appointed me as Chair last month and since then have been putting down on paper my thoughts of how the Chamber can grow. This was presented to the Exec on 19th October and shared with the attendees at the networking lunch the same day.
… a place where businesses (new and old) can come for guidance, expertise and direction to achieve their own goals.
In essence the final package is to provide a place where businesses (new and old) can come for guidance, expertise and direction to achieve their own goals. Additionally, the vision is not to replace any of the existing networking opportunities but to enhance them and bring them together so their existence is known to more people who may benefit.
To achieve this there will need to be some small tweaks to the existing structure we have in place to streamline things and deliver a slick process that saves everyone time and maximises the opportunity for businesses to share and contribute to the local communities.
- Expand the catchment and actively include Horsham in the Chamber with a view to renaming Billingshurst & Horsham Chamber of Commerce.
- No political involvement in that the Chamber will not support any political party or have any political agenda.
- Outside parties can submit to the membership for comment (via the Secretary). This change is not a watering down of involvement but will provide an enhanced channel to capture views across a wider group of the membership who maybe affected by proposed developments or may wish to contribute themselves to assist specific projects.
- Alternate the monthly meetings between Billingshurst & Horsham.
- Arrange regular events (e.g Billibiz) along with ad hoc events to cover specific items (like the meeting we are planning for next year to involve several speakers for a Q&A).
- We will work with the individual groups in the area to include them in the Chamber publicity – not to replace what they do but to ensure the Chamber is publicised through them and there is a joined-up line from them to us.
I realise that the ideas above do give a wider focus than just Billingshurst. Currently there is a void in Horsham and we are well placed to fill this with the professional Chamber that has been offered over the years. Many of our existing members come from Horsham and this is a natural evolution of Chamber without forgetting the roots and membership in Billingshurst. The focus of the day to day activities will be purely business focussed whilst enabling other parties to capture valuable feedback on their plans, as mentioned above, without the need for duplication of effort at multiple meetings.
A chamber of collaboration throughout the business community
The vision is a chamber of collaboration throughout the business community. Not a body that sits remote from businesses with its own staff and its own ivory tower. Ours will be run by the membership for the membership and everyone involved as a member has an opportunity to promote their business and benefit as a result.
The initial feedback from the Exec and members has been really positive, I know there will need to be some refinement before we get the final version of how things look having discussed with all the interested parties but this gives us a blueprint to move forwards and develop on the superb work that has been done by my predecessors. I look forward to working with you all on achieving our goals.