Created to help people start their own company from their passion, PopUp Business School is bringing free training on the essentials of running a business to locations around Kent this year.

Some people, whether in a job or currently looking for work, may have a business idea they’ve always had at the back of their mind but struggled to know where to begin, or just thought it wasn’t possible to do it.

PopUp Business School runs events throughout the UK (and USA) to give people the knowledge (and importantly, confidence) to explore if starting up their own business could work for them financially, and fit in around their everyday routine.

Although the PopUp Business School may have been founded back in 2012 to help people start their own business, it’s about a bit more than just that, and lots of people find they learn skills to support them in their career (even if they don’t set something up). The course also explores the essentials of marketing, how to build your own website (for free) and make the most out of social media, as well as working on your self-confidence in presenting and sharing ideas with others.

The company says its pop-up workshops have “helped start more than 1500 businesses in communities across the UK.”

Who are the events for?

There’s no ‘typical’ attendee.

Previous PopUps have often been attended by a mix of men and women and a wide age range too – for example, over three events held in Reading between 2016 and 2017, roughly 30% of attendees were aged 26-40, another 30% were made up of 41-50-year-olds, with the rest aged 16-25 or over 65.

Sometimes training can count as part of your job search – please check with your Jobcentre advisor about this beforehand. You don’t necessarily have to be unemployed though! PopUps are usually a mix of people who are looking for work and who are in work but don’t really enjoy what they do.

How much does it cost?

pop up business school scheduleThe course itself costs nothing and the folk at PopUp Business School aim to show you how to spend as little as possible to set up a company.

If seriously considering self-employment after PopUp, you do have to think about how being self-employed would affect your benefits (like Universal Credit), however (there’s more information answering key questions on that from The Money Advice Service right here). It’s also important to note that your Council Tax support will change if you become self-employed.

How is it free?

Town & Country Foundation and other housing associations (like Optivo) have joined forces to support PopUp in delivering schools to support people in their local communities be as successful as possible. The scheme is also part of a wider European funding project to give people more career support.

How long does the course run for?

The course runs every weekday from 10am to 3pm, teaching different subjects each day (see the schedule on the right). You do not have to come every day; however, the school says coming to as many days as possible can help you in the long run. Events are a mixture of learning information, 1-2-1 chats and workshops with others on the course.

You will need to bring a laptop, tablet or smartphone (if you have one), pen & paper and something to eat.

Find more information on upcoming dates below. Feel free to contact Town & Country Housing’s Sophie Locke (email: phone: 01892 501472) if you are interested in the upcoming PopUp Business Schools.

Some PopUp stories...

stools made by lynda of TOUCHWOOD VINTAGE DESIGNS after pop up business school

Since the recession, Lynda Robinson was in and out of work, which resultantly had an impact on her confidence and mental health. She came to the PopUp Business School in 2016 with a love of upcycling furniture pieces and was able to start a business doing just that.

“It’s been art therapy for me over the last two and half years – I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t found this. PopUp really gave me the confidence and knowledge that I needed,” comments Lynda.

Touchwood Vintage Designs, a small business that upcycles vintage furniture and specialises in mid-century modern furniture and decoupage. The business is going strong in its third year in business and Lynda appreciates working around her own schedule and make money doing something she loves. She concludes: “I now have my confidence back and love my world now – it’s given me back my life.”


Lauren Ormerod came to the PopUp in 2018. Before coming to the course, she was a full-time mum of two boys. Since attending the course she now can now earn an income around the kids through her business making furniture, home and wedding accessories from copper pipe and fittings.

“I just think it’s a fabulous, informative course to provide for free. Business is daunting and confusing so to have someone to go through the basics in a fun and charismatic way, but without making you feel patronised, is great,” she says on starting her company, Copper Cup.

Lauren adds: “I’ve kept in touch with lots of the people from my course, so I’ve made like-minded friends and we all help each other out with our businesses too. My business is going well and I have the confidence now to go and achieve my goals!”


chair next to fireplace made by deborah of The Artisan Upholsterer after popup business school

Deborah Tyrer was gifted an upholstery course by her siblings and caught the bug – attending more intensive courses to learn more and putting her textile degree to good use. She says coming to PopUp in 2018 gave her the push to follow her passion by launching her very own bespoke furniture store which builds chairs and footstools or restores existing pieces, The Artisan Upholsterer.

“I think it gave everybody who attended the confidence to really consider their business ideas. We were given a vast amount of helpful information, we were all guided well, directed and encouraged to think about all aspects of the business and if it was something we could do,” Deborah says.

“For Wigan I think it was useful to give people the opportunity to see that there are business opportunities in the town. I am starting to take orders for new projects and am very excited about how things are progressing.”


Based in Tunbridge Wells and looking for 1-2-1 support and training on self-employment and your career? Come along to our futURe store at Royal Victoria Place (ground floor, near Muffin Break) on Thursdays.

If you’ve decided already that PopUp’s not for you, it still might have got you thinking about your next job or career move, or just needing to get a CV together, and we can refer you to for support, advice and guidance – just get in touch!

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