Kerry Barton of, a former Rebel School participant

A highly successful online business school that has seen around 100 new Kent entrepreneurs forge ahead with business plans over past 15 months alone is trying a new approach in a bid to broaden its reach still further.

The Rebel School has already broken the mould by encouraging would-be business owners to forget about business plans and bank loans and instead just “go for it”.

That approach has so far seen 589 people from all walks of life attend one of seven free, online business start-up courses funded by Kent County Council since September 2022. Close to 400 of the attendees were Kent residents, and on average 26% of those attending each course had a trading business by the end of it.

Rebel School courses are always free as they are funded by a sponsoring agency, usually a local council that is keen to see new business start-ups. They encourage people to make a living by doing what they love, with skilled presenters suggesting low cost ways to get started in business and providing ongoing support.

“In the past our courses have always been made up of intensive sessions spread over two weeks,” explained CEO Henry Nicholson. “Initially they were face to face, but since the pandemic we have had a lot of success with online courses, encouraging people to follow their dreams and helping them set up a range of small businesses.

“We recognise, though, that for some people attending for ten days in a row is difficult, particularly if they are already in work, and so we are trying a new model that we hope will give even more people the chance to earn money from something they love.”

The new approach means the latest course, which began on 15 January and will cover everything from networking and building a website to sales and the legal aspects of running a business, will run over a ten-week period.

“By holding the course in the evenings and spreading the sessions over a longer period, we hope people will be able to start putting their learning into practice between the sessions,” said Henry.

Six 90-minute starter sessions will make up the ‘Get ready’ stage of the course and will introduce the would-be entrepreneurs to the challenges and opportunities around running their own business. “It will get them to the starting line,” added Henry.

The next two weeks, beginning on 29 January and labelled ‘Start’, will see more intensive sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings over the following four weeks.

“After that there will be a four week ‘Grow’ phase during which we will continue to mentor the new business people and plug them into a local support network,” Henry said.

“Rebel has already earned itself a reputation for delivering inspirational courses, all of which are funded by local councils that recognise the quality of our delivery. We hope this approach will allow even more new businessmen and women to attend, find their feet and earn money doing something they enjoy.”

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By Ed

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