Like many entrepreneurs, the secret of Robert Tew’s success was finding something he felt passionate about. Here's how he turned a hobby into a business.

Like many entrepreneurs, the secret of Robert Tew’s success was finding something he felt passionate about.

Robert, 40, was looking for work while on Universal Credit after spending eight years as a full-time carer to a close relative.

During his time as a carer, and in a previous job as a self-employed bookmaker, Robert had developed a skill for website design and computer programming which he had used to help out friends as a favour.

Turning this hobby into a business seemed an obvious solution to lifting him out of unemployment while still being able to spend time at home, close to family. His only dilemma was getting the business off the ground.

However, with the support offered by the New Enterprise Allowance scheme, which offers financial support as well as the services of a business mentor, Robert, of Maesteg, was able to launch Valley Web Designs, specializing in website design and online marketing.

Six months on and Robert’s company is thriving, with customers across South Wales. He has recently completed new websites for two local businesses, a company producing granite worktops and another selling wood burners.

“I love the freedom that comes with being my own boss,” said Robert, “It gives me precious time to spend with my family.”

“The NEA was helpful because I had the security of knowing that I was getting an allowance to help me set up the business while I was finding new customers.”

Through the scheme Robert was also able to secure a business mentor Liz Hopkin, of Swansea-based Business Sense Associates. Robert said: “Liz was very friendly, helpful and gave me lots of solid business advice.”

NEA Mentor Liz Hopkin said: “It’s wonderful to see Robert and his business doing so well. Robert has great vision and innovation when it comes to supporting local businesses. It’s been a pleasure to work with Robert and help him get his business up and running, to such a sustainable level.”

The NEA, launched by the Government in 2011 to provide support and mentoring for unemployed budding entrepreneurs, is available to claimants of Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (or their partners) and lone parents or sick on Income Support. Some jobseekers may also be eligible if they get Universal Credit. Find out how you can apply at

To contact Valley Web Designs, visit