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Reflections on our first year in business

23 August 2020

Reflections on our first year in business.

New business. Global pandemic. Lessons learnt.

Around 150 meetings, 3,500 miles travelled (pre-lockdown of course) and more than 150 Zoom or Microsoft Teams calls.

That’s what the first year in business has looked like. Beyond the statistics, one thing we certainly hadn’t banked on was a global pandemic…..

What about the experience itself? What have I learnt personally and — for others going it alone even in these strange times — what’s the best advice?

Stand out learning

My stand-out learning has been to believe in myself: it’s amazing what you can achieve when you push your own limits.

My main concern was how I would find work. And I surprised myself by how much I actually enjoyed networking and business development, when that was the area I was least sure of at the beginning.

I joined a networking group, and it’s snowballed since then. I’ve been lucky too to have had plenty of referrals from business contacts and clients.

And when lockdown hit, again I was lucky. I had everything I needed in my home office and was fortunate enough to specialise in a discipline that’s ideally suited to remote working.

Start-up advice

  • Be prepared to adapt — whether it’s adapting your business to, and helping clients deal with, a pandemic, or deftly dealing with something that comes from left field….
  • Identify your market, map out your business model, know where you stand out and the difference what you offer makes in the real world
  • Then keep at it — allocate time regularly to spend time on the business to check things are on track. For me, it’s early in the morning when I can get peace and quiet to concentrate
  • Set targets so you have something to aim for — these can be small and incremental, but a step forward’s a step forward
  • Be clear about how you’ll add value for clients — focus on the implementation and exceed expectations. And that means making tough choices if a potential client isn’t the right fit, or you don’t have the capacity to do the job to your usual high standard
  • People buy from people — yes, it’s a cliché, but tap into your existing contacts and network to look for work
  • Be patient (easier said than done, of course) it will take time, and it won’t always be easy, especially in turbulent times
  • Give yourself a break — it’s easy to be overly critical of yourself, but try not to let it cripple your judgement

So it remains to be seen how what the national and global economies look like over the medium to long term, but one thing’s for sure, entrepreneurship and innovation have rarely been more important — and start-ups have a crucial role in that regard.

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