6 things I've learned from starting a business
On the 25th of January 2018, I started a London-based specialist marketing consultancy called weflourish ltd. It had been an idea in my head for over 6 months and with encouraging words from my friends and family such as 'you've got the experience and you've done marketing for so many industries,' 'you can do it!' and 'why don't you do it?', I decided to finally take the plunge! It's all very surreal, when people first told me 'you own a business', it felt like it was some kind of outer force, happening TO ME but as the weeks have gone on and the client work began, I realised that yes...yes, I own a business!
I felt that (as this is my first blog), the most helpful topic I could give advice on to my readers, 6 weeks into starting the business (would you believe?), would be the top 6 things I've learnt so far- I hope you all find it useful!:
1) WORD OF MOUTH GOES A LONG WAY
Much to my amazement, weflourish is moving far faster than I had ever anticipated, within its first 6 weeks... We actually secured two contracts before the company was formally established and further clients have signed up since. Funnily enough, put aside your social media, your advertising, your pr, it seems the fundamental factor so far in finding business has actually been word of mouth. Clients recommending us, friends passing our details on as a 'new marketing agency they know', and finally, through the word of mouth of myself at networking events!
2) YOU'LL NEED TO SACRIFICE THINGS TO MAKE IT WORK
About 2 weeks into the company, I was sat in my office on a typical Tuesday night and I had a realisation. It may seem to you like an obvious one but do you ever have those moments where you're so busy that you don't necessarily take the time to sit back and observe? It was one of those... I had a think for a while and then I picked up the phone and called a friend. I said to her, 'I just realised...just now, that I am now going to need to halve my social life.' She said 'why?' and I responded, 'if I am working for clients 9-5, aside from at say, lunchtime, when will I actually have the time to work on MY business (which had also fast become my 'baby' in that time)? I just realised, I'm going to have to halve my social life and I've also realised, I'm actually completely comfortable with that...' A shocking revelation indeed!
3) DON'T UNDERESTIMATE RANDOM NETWORKING EVENTS
So I know it's not been long since we started, but in my free time I've been visiting a number of, what I'd like to describe as 'random networking events.' I just wanted to check them out, some were recommended, others, I spotted online... When you turn up to these, they may not be in the setup you expected, the most comfortable location, or to the ideal timescales you had in mind. Even if you attend an evening and think 'well, there didn't seem to be many companies there, 'relevant' to mine' or 'it seemed to be full of people offering services rather than requiring them,' just remember a crucial thing, 1 new contact, can make all the difference to the evening.
4) YOU'LL FIND SKILLS YOU NEVER KNEW YOU HAD
I learnt so much in the ten years of marketing I've completed across different industries, and I didn't expect to pick up so much more in the first few weeks of the consultancy. Aside from simply learning how to set up a business (!!), one client (Power the Change), asked me whether (given my marketing experience), I had ever considered tying in some business development with it. I figured, why not? And the business opportunities grew, and now business development is a permanent fixture with this client. At the same time, I found myself on the verge of hiring someone to create my website for me, and at one point I thought, 'well why not give it a crack myself?' and here's the result!
5) SOME PEOPLE HAVE A BUILT-IN FEAR OF AGENCIES
It seems that a number of people I've come across in the last few months have had somewhat negative experiences with agencies. Perhaps the client had been very firm on their opinion about an aspect of their branding or the marketing channels they wished to stick to, and the agency debated this with them and refused to back down... Or maybe they got into a conveyer-belt routine where the agency kept demanding assets and content rather than having a thorough discussion and think about each project beforehand. My answer to this is that firstly, there are also fantastic marketing consultancies out there, and with weflourish, you are dealing with a Managing Director who spent the 10 years previous to starting the business, inhouse. I have 'been there', I have managed such agencies, I understand the frustrations and I have been on the receiving end on the client-side. With weflourish, we don't complete assignments by halves and we certainly listen to the customer and know how to accommodate.
6) LASTLY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
It may sound cheesy, but I am a big advocate of 'go with your gut'. If I think back to past situations in my life (both personal and career-related), I do very much support the belief that if something in your head is telling you 'this isn't right,' 'something's up here,' or 'just go for it,' 'this is your path,' then you should listen to that feeling and follow it, your body is unconsciously trying to tell you something, and it's likely to be right. For example, when I started an Instagram account for Louis Stone, I wasn't sure if it was the best use of my social media time for them, and I had customers of theirs telling me 'I don't see how an optical distributor translates to Instagram'. Well lo and behold, 1 year later, over 10,000 organic followers, a top 3 finalist spot in the most prestigious optical marketing awards in the UK for the channel, and regular Instagram orders, I think this was a safe to say 'listen to the voice in your head saying 'do it,'' situation! And with weflourish, all it took was a 'eureka, this is happening, I can really do this' moment, and off I went!
I hope you found my first post useful and can relate to it, please do leave comments and opinions for me and share on your social media if you think it can benefit others.