A confidence boost: How small business mentoring helped Natalie grow


The entrepreneurial journey often begins with a simple spark of inspiration, a desire to create something unique and personal. For Natalie, that spark ignited when she found herself in search of a phone case that truly reflected her personality. Dissatisfied with the generic options on the market, Natalie decided to take matters into her own hands – so Creative Banter was born! Having seen her family build many amazing businesses, she was inspired to create something of her own. Knowing she needed support, she turned to the small business mentoring offered by Digital Boost and Boost Lancashire and saw a huge shift in her business thanks to the mentorship she received!

From Personal Passion to Thriving Business

“It all started back in 2019,” Natalie recalls. “I remember getting a new phone and wanting a case that was more than just a generic pattern. I wanted something that spoke to who I am.” As an illustrator, Natalie was inspired to create a design that reflected her and her life and so she illustrated her very first phone case.

But what began as a personal project quickly evolved into something exciting! Natalie’s friends and family loved the cases and soon she’d had many requests to create unique phone cases for her network. Natalie began this project whilst she was studying animation and was encouraged by her teachers to turn her passion for illustration into a business venture. She began slowly designing cases for her friends and families alongside her studies, and her small business was born!

The Evolution of Natalie’s Business

Initially, it was a side hustle—a creative outlet that allowed Natalie to express herself and share her art with others. But as time went on, she realised that her illustrations held the potential for something greater. “I started to realise that this is actually what I love to do,” Natalie reflects. “So, I expanded my offerings to include more than just phone cases—gifts like canvases and cushions.”

Every step of Natalie’s journey has been organic and fuelled by her own experiences as a customer. Having added these new offerings, Natalie again was inspired by her own experience when she was planning her wedding! “We were creating our own stationery for the wedding,” Natalie shares. “And it hit me: Why am I not doing this for other people?”. Once again inspired by her own experiences, she began to offer custom stationery services as part of her business and immediately had more friends and family queuing up for her services.

📸 Creative Banter

Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Support

Natalie acknowledges that entrepreneurship isn’t without its challenges, especially when it comes to financial constraints. “It’s a struggle sometimes when you’re like, but I’m broke,” she admits candidly. In those early days of building a side-hustle, it can be hard to strike the balance between working a 9-5 and trying to break into a fully-fledged small business.

As so much of Natalie’s early business came from friends and family, it didn’t initially feel like a small business! But some key ‘aha’ moments marked a turning point for Natalie. One of those was the moment her phone notifications were blowing up with website visitors! Being discovered by customers who weren’t her friends and family was a moment where Natalie realised she’d gone from passion project to true small business!

The Transformative Power of Mentorship

The support Natalie received from Boost Lancashire and Digital Boost proved instrumental in her entrepreneurial journey, providing guidance, mentorship, and invaluable resources to help her navigate the complexities of running a business.

Natalie’s initial introduction to business support came through her sister’s involvement with Boost Lancashire. Witnessing the growth and success of her sister’s business under the guidance of a mentor, Natalie recognized the value of having a mentor of her own. Inspired by her sister’s experiences, Natalie decided to seek out her own mentor through Boost Lancashire—a decision that proved immensely beneficial. “That was really good,” Natalie reflects. “Because, again, there were things that I had no idea about, and they really helped me to figure out.” From essential tasks like maintaining financial records to more complex aspects of business management, Natalie’s Boost Lancashire mentor provided guidance and support every step of the way.

As Natalie’s circumstances changed and she prepared to relocate to Surrey, Boost Lancashire introduced her to Digital Boost. “At the beginning, I thought it’d be a very similar [service],” Natalie recalls, “but then I was pleasantly surprised.” As well as 1:1 mentoring, Digital Boost offered Masterclasses, accelerator programmes and networking sessions to support small businesses and charities! Having experienced personal support from Boost Lancashire, Natalie was impressed that a similar level of support could be accessed virtually through the Digital Boost platform – and all free of charge!

The Impact of Digital Boost on Natalie’s Business

“Before, I didn’t have access to all the knowledge that I need,” Natalie reflects. “But coming to Digital Boost, it feels like I have access to the world’s knowledge.”

Through Digital Boost, Natalie was able to access a huge variety of mentors, who all brought unique perspectives and support that she could apply to her business. With over 70+ mentoring topics offered, Natalie had access to support in areas she didn’t even know she needed!

Natalie has been lucky enough to be mentored by Ian from the BT team. Ian volunteers his time through Digital Boost to support small businesses and charities around the world. Ian is a Digital Marketing expert and has supported Natalie in developing her website, SEO, and brand positioning so that she can stand out in her market and get more customers! Natalie admits that before ‘Digital Boost, no one was visiting my website’

Natalie describes how Ian will tell you how it is and isn’t afraid to tell you when something isn’t working in your business! She’s found this to be immensely helpful as having constructive feedback has allowed her to develop a website that’s working for her and her business. Thanks to Ian’s support, Natalie’s website is now getting discovered by new customers and generating more sales!

This was most impactful after Natalie attended her first wedding fayre with her business. She recalls how excited she was as it was on her ‘bucket-list’ and how many potential customers were blown away by the innovation of her designs. She even got noticed by the local press when they were blown away by her reversible seating plan, which includes an illustration of the happy couple on the back, so you don’t have to throw the seating chart away after the day! With so much interest generated on the day, Natalie then had an amazing website to direct them to buy from her, all thanks to the mentorship of Ian 😊

📸 Creative Banter

Building Confidence

Ian from BT offers small business mentoring through Digital Boost!

But what’s changed most for Natalie as a result of mentoring is her confidence. For Natalie, having Ian’s mentorship has been ‘validating’ and she doesn’t underestimate the power that validation has had on her business journey. She acknowledges that confidence has been her ‘weakness’ on her journey. Every entrepreneur knows how hard it can be to put yourself out there and feel confident in what you’re selling – it’s normal! But for Natalie, having an expert like Ian look at her business and say that it’s ‘great’ and better than other options on the market has been a huge confidence boost for her.

What struck Natalie was when Ian said to her: ‘I believe in your business and I believe in your stuff’. Having a small business mentor believe in you, even when you’re struggling to yourself, was game-changing for Natalie. With the support of Ian, she’s gone from strength to strength and her business is flourishing.

Looking Ahead

As Natalie’s confidence grows, so does her business! She’s gone from strength to strength as a result of Digital Boost’s small business mentoring and the future is very bright for Natalie.

Natalie’s story is a testament to the power of mentoring and having someone in your corner cheering you on. Whether that’s friends, family, other small business owners, or a mentor, never underestimate the power of your support system when building a business.

If you’ve been inspired by Natalie’s story and would love to find out more about how our small business mentoring can support you, you can find out more here! 👇

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