AN ONLINE community is offering free interviews, podcasts, webinars and other content to support businesses through the pandemic crisis.

Steve Witt and Paul Harrison, who run the Dorset-based travel company Not Just Travel, have launched The Business Nation – Bournemouth as a ‘hub’ open to all company owners and entrepreneurs.

Content in the free Facebook group will be curated by specialists from across all business disciplines, from marketing and finance, public relations and sales. Motivational speakers and coaches will also contribute with relevant sessions.

Steve Witt said: “In Dorset alone there are more than 56,000 registered companies, with Poole and Bournemouth accounting for the lion’s share of new businesses.

“I can guarantee that virtually every single one of these businesses is hurting right now. The owners of these companies and the freelancers out there are dealing with issues they never envisaged having to face.

“Many are scared that their businesses are going to fold. It’s a very unsettling time for everyone.

“This is why we set up The Business Nation: to unite us; to create a platform on which we can support each other, share information and pool our knowledge.”

The hub was originally devised as a training platform to support the more than 450 Not Just Travel franchisees who work from home.

“At a time when business owners need support more than ever before, it seemed wrong to keep it to ourselves,” said Mr Witt.

“We can’t help the nation in the same way that the NHS staff are but we can help business owners and entrepreneurs – so that’s what we decided to do. We’re all in this crisis together, and it’s important that we get through it together.”

He said the platform would belong to the entire business community locally – and beyond via localised platforms.

“This is not a money-making idea or a promotion for Not Just Travel or The Travel Franchise. It’s simply a platform on which entrepreneurs can unite to help them ride this Covid-19 crisis, but also strengthen the community beyond this period,” he said.

“Over the next few weeks, you’ll see The Business Nation groups popping up across the country to help entrepreneurs across the country.”

Each day, members will be able to tap into teaching to build on their business knowledge and entrepreneurial skills. Subjects include money management, marketing, telephone and sales techniques, social media and customer retention.