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One in two businesses don’t survive until their 5th birthday. It’s therefore my great pleasure to be writing this blog in honour of ours.

It’s 5 years since that cold and snowy spring morning in 2018 when SiGNAL opened its doors to local businesspeople for the first time. We were a proper start-up then, launching our brand-new concept onto an unknown and unsuspecting world. We led with free coworking to kickstart the business, this worked wonders at the start and really got our brand known. We enjoyed two wonderful carefree start-up years then Covid hit at the beginning of Year 3 and knocked us - and all our tenants and customers - sideways. 

The free coworking was unfortunately a casualty of Covid and as we struggled through 2020 and 2021 like everyone else, focused only on keeping the doors open and the lights on we were obliged to let every inch of available space out to businesses on a permanent basis.

Somehow as a team we took everything in our stride, taking out a Bounce Back loan to offer rent discounts for our 25 tenants, looking after our 45 business hub members with regular phone calls and Zoom meetings and using our 3D print capacity to manufacture visors and headbands for local NHS staff. We also continued to grow, increasing our footprint from 3,000 square feet in 2018 to nearly 20,000 square feet by 2022.


Today, we are finally back up to pre-Covid levels of engagement. SiGNAL is now 20,000 + square feet of mixed office, workshop, studio and coworking space across four very different sites. We recently partnered with WBRC to bring 13 brand new micro-offices to market on the mezzanine level of The Shed (a local mall of independent shops, bars and eateries) See our blog HERE We are home to so many diverse businesses across the sites, from travel agents and kitchen designers to jewellers and software developers. There is even a gin distillery and gin making school!

SiGNAL sites are currently 100% full with a waiting list, and we are actively seeking deals on new sites. We believe that our success is a direct result of our focus on social impact. Our team roles include business support, placemaking, mentoring and community building as well as the usual facilities management.  We work tirelessly to support our tenants and other businesses with specialised training, business networking, social events, signposting and sharing of resources and information. We continuously help business owners find and take advantage of collaboration and tendering opportunities in the town and further afield.  We provide our tenants with business networking opportunities, training opportunities and a library of business videos and how-to resources. We also hold regular tenants' socials and take a great personal interest in the successes and failures of those under our tenancy. If our business tenants survive and thrive so does our business and so does the town.

Right now, we are proud to have a team of 6, a membership club of 80 small businesses, 42 residents and regular events that routinely attract 30 - 40 businesses

However, we look back fondly to those very early days at SiGNAL when we had a clutch of free co-workers, a handful of tenants, homespun décor, hit and miss marketing and our meetings would sometimes attract only 3 or 4 people! We were enthusiastic, creative, curious and bold, everything every start up should be.

I think it is safe to say that from a big list of great pre-Covid SiGNAL memories the best one of all was the SiGNAL sunrise rave. Here’s a clip:

Because we loved it so much, we’ll be bringing a small element of that to our 5th Birthday Party! 

So, what is the secret to our survival and our success? It’s really simple. We pressed on regardless, whatever the world threw at us, determined to stay cheerful and stay on track to make Bordon the best place in the UK to own and run a business.  

Thank you to those of you that have been there every step of that journey - our early adopters and supporters - you know who you are!


How times have changed - and how we’ve grown in every way, not just the ways that are easy to measure.

I thought I’d finish this 5th birthday blog with 5 important lessons the team and I have learned as we made our way through those first 5 fabulous years of SIGNAL


  1. Surround yourself with people that are better than you!


This really is at the heart of business success. We always say don’t attempt to build a business alone and that is probably the most important lesson for a business start-up. No single person has all the huge number of skills and attributes needed to run a business. You can be the smartest entrepreneur, but you may not have an eye for detail or the patience for compliance. You have to bring in the diverse skill sets you need through your team, your suppliers and your support network.

A group of people with diverse skills, talents and personality traits is much more likely to get you across hurdles and round tricky corners than a one-person set-up. 


  1. It pays to Hustle!


Hustling is just an essential part of business and something the SiGNAL team have always done well. SiGNAL itself began with a big hustle, when, back in 2014 I was hustling a business owner in London by the name of Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation. This Emma was doing much what I was doing but on a much larger scale in central London partnered with Government. I thought my regional business hubs could become the rural arm of Enterprise Nation. It never hurts to ask, right? That particular plan didn’t ever happen, but my hustle was rewarded with a position as ‘Regional Business Champion for Surrey and Hampshire.’ This led to a lot of fun stuff happening including visiting the Minister for Business in 10 Downing Street to share my views. Shortly after that, thanks to my partnership with Emma Jones, the WBRC business opportunity in Bordon landed on my desk and I haven’t looked back since!

On a similar note - hustling well takes persistence. My break with Emma took two years of knocking on her door.  Opening up the SiGNAL building at Martinique House took a further three years of negotiating with James Child, town centre project lead and director of WBRC.

When my team asked James at our Christmas lunch last year how SIGNAL came about, he said ‘Emma just never stopped bloody calling me and eventually I just gave in…’

Persistence pays!


  1. If you can do what you love, you never have to work another day…


I love running SIGNAL and it doesn’t feel like work at all. Why do I love it?

  • I have a skilled team around me that can do all the (many) things I can’t do or would rather not do so that I can quickly move things along towards our goals.
  • We have a BIG goal that is worth achieving and worth getting up for.
  • The team are fun to be around and keep showing up every day happy (mostly!!) and motivated.
  • I get to spend all my time with small business owners who are great people; unpredictable, ambitious, creative, and fearless.
  • We get to hold big business events and make life-changing connections for our customers (and have fun doing it)
  • We are able to see the positive social impact we make on the town and our tenants every day

Make it fun by getting a team of people to do the stuff you aren’t good at and don’t enjoy. Then you can focus on being really good at what you love. You aren’t meant to do it all yourself!! And choose a goal that is bigger and more significant to you than profit. Profit is obviously essential to staying in business but for me, it is the by-product and not the goal. Incidentally, our goal is stated in our mission statement ‘Making Bordon the best place in the UK to own and run a business’ and in a recent survey of our tenants, 73% say we are on the right track or have nearly succeeded and 27% say we have made it all the way!



  1. Be a tortoise, not a hare


Small businesses are known for being agile and fast moving but just because your business CAN move quickly doesn’t mean it always should. At SiGNAL in the earlier years, we used to move at a breakneck pace but as we’ve grown, we’ve learned that slowing things down can work better. Allow for as much time as possible to get buy-in from the whole team. It’s tempting to try and get things done quickly as it feels like progress, but sometimes quick decisions can actually slow you down.



  1. Celebrate every win


Celebrating wins boosts morale and encourages further success. It builds a positive culture within your organisation which will set a good tone for attracting partners, employees, and customers. If you celebrate wins publicly this gives a great impression of your business success which is naturally going to be attractive and visible. Have fun with it as much as possible. We love to celebrate our own milestones and also those of our tenants and members. See a great SIGNAL example here:

So back to the 5th Birthday. We’re celebrating this milestone in our usual way with a big event at The BOSC HERE which will be packed with great businesspeople, bursting with business value and possibly even laced with drinks and dancing! 

As we say (and do) at SiGNAL - celebrate every win no matter how small. But this 5-year milestone is far from small. It’s a huge achievement in an unpredictable sector and in some of the most turbulent times small business has ever seen, certainly in my lifetime.


I want to take this moment to thank my amazing team, past and present, my supporters and partners, my customers and suppliers, everyone who has played a part in making SiGNAL what it is today - a vibrant hub of enterprise bringing a splash of entrepreneurial colour and a dash of business class to our growing town centre.


It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been fun and that is down to the wonderful people involved. Thank you!

5 years ago we opened our doors to small businesses in Bordon offering free coworking, cheap and cheerful office accommodation, networking events and friendly business advice


Today we have 20,000 sq ft of commercial spaces across 5 sites in Bordon including an impressive suite of brand new micro offices upstairs at The Shed in Bordon: