A group of twelve business owners and executives have found strength in numbers after joining a six-month development course run by a County Durham digital marketing trainer.

Former teacher Nicola Jayne Little, who runs Consett based agency Digital Sparkles, devised the course after engaging with hundreds of small business owners on various funded training courses.

Nicola, who delivers training for organisations including NBSL and Digital Drive County Durham, wanted to find a group of professionals, who run or work for a small business, to become to first cohort of the #dodigital Bootcamp, which held its first of six monthly sessions in April.

She said: “From 80 applicants, the majority of whom are members of my #dodigital Facebook group, I selected twelve people I knew would be able to help each other help themselves in developing their digital marketing skills and strategies.

“I took inspiration from a fitness bootcamp – slogging it out on a regular and consistent basis to achieve your goals through hard work and loads of effort.

“This course is paid for by the delegates, so it’s for those who really, really want to push their own digital boundaries and improve their online sales and networks, engagement levels and business reputation.”

Michelle Morrison runs Horden based beauty business House of Exquisiteness. She said: “At the beginning of the bootcamp journey I had goals for my business that I never thought possible. Nicola helped me realise that I could completely smash those goals within six months and I’m so grateful for her belief in me and all the support she and the group have provided.

“I am now a salon owner after renting a room since January this year. My business is going from strength to strength by the day and this is all down to my digital presence. I don’t advertise my business in any other way and the bootcamp has made that possible.”

Joanne Stanton is marketing manager for a group of optometrist practices in and around Hexham including Geoff Steven & Sons. She added: “I joined the bootcamp to improve my digital skills, which I have done immensely.

“However I also gained a team of peers and mentors who I can bounce ideas off, develop plans and build targets with. The bootcamp has made me accountable each month with target setting and gives me time out of the businesses to focus on growing them.”

Jaime Moran-Wilson is a sports therapist based in Jesmond. She said: “As a self employed person who generally works alone, there can be low moments when you feel you can’t see the wood for the trees, question yourself and your own skills and abilities, and just generally don’t have anyone to chat to about business.

“Now I am part of a fantastic group of people who have helped and supported me over the past six months in ways I never thought possible.”

The first cohort of #dodigital Bootcamp members is now looking at ways it can stay together for monthly target setting sessions, while a second cohort is being recruited.