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7
Apr

Advice to Ourselves, in Hindsight…

We were recently interviewed by Devi Clarke, Entrepreneur, Social Guru and Founder of www.mynewleaf.co.uk for a blog article on career changers.  The experience made us stop and think of what we have learned over the last 30 months or so – and what advice we would give ourselves if we could go back in time to when we first started planning our business…

Here are some of the top things which immediately spring to mind…

 

1.       Take the Plunge

When Debbie and I first decided to launch the I Am Group, it was very much going to be a part-time affair, allowing us to concentrate on the income from our own private consultancy work, rather than just putting all of our eggs in one basket, under the I Am Group.  The reality was different.  Launching a new brand with little capital and part-time hours is hard enough, but between the two of us, we realised that we were trying to develop three brands simultaneously, on limited budgets…

6 months later, not only did we strengthen our offering by adding ‘I Am Recruiting’ and ‘I Am Consulting’ to our core services, but it also helped us focus on expansion and development of the I Am Group

 

2.       Separate the creative from the practical

We spent months and months, going around in circles, trying to sort out the legalities, work out our offering, setting up a website, opening bank accounts and everything else you can possibly imagine. At times it was completely overwhelming, and we kept asking ourselves if we really wanted to do this! 

If you are going into business with another person, the temptation is that both of you will want to do the creative, fun parts, but don’t be afraid to apportion the boring, essential bits….and you’ll find that you soon get more of a handle on things!

 

3.       Business Plan, Schmizzness Plan!

Not everybody company needs a 10-page business plan…and we certainly didn’t   A formal business plan is essential if you are going to a bank or seeking external funding, but we spent months perfecting something which became almost obsolete the minute we actually launched!  Our advice here would be, have an idea of where you are going and how you’re going to get there, but projected revenue, targets and other deliverables are at best pure ‘guess work’ until you’ve actually established your company and your brand in the market place… 

Don’t get bogged down by hypotheticals!  Alternatives to the business plan could be different, shorter documents linked to your mission, your values and aspirations – but will inevitably include some kind of ‘financial’ element…and be prepared to revisit them on a regular basis.

 

4.       Does it make the boat go faster?

Adaptation! The temptation whenever you start a new business is to keep adapting and modifying the business model – which is natural – but can sometimes distract you from your core business activities. Think carefully about the opportunity cost of every new proposition.  Getting a quick injection of cash into the business is all very well, but it might come at a longer-term cost…and sometimes you can waste an awful lot of time and energy on a plan that goes nowhere… 

There will always be opportunities to follow, but think carefully if what you are doing fits your core mission – and if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to walk away…

 

5.       To charge or not to charge?

Beware the temptation to offer a ‘freebie’!  Starting a new business, your natural inclination may be to give away too much for free at the beginning, but sometimes with goods or services, the perception of its value is linked to its cost, and if you give something away for free, you may have difficulty charging for it at a later stage…

 

We could go on, of course!  We’ve learned so much in 14 months or running the I Am Group, but we wanted to start your creative juices going – and for those of you who are in a similar position, we’d love to find out what advice you would give your ‘old’ self, with the benefit of hindsight…

Email us, or leave a comment, or better still, why not come and say hi at our next friendly ‘I Am Networking’ or ‘I Am Learning’ event? We’re running an event on ‘How to Network’ this Wednesday and it should be a lot of fun!  Visit https://theiamgroup.eventbrite.co.uk/ for more details…and to hear our interview with Devi Clarke in full, visit: https://mynewleaf.co.uk/services-offered/free-stuff-for-career-changers/interview-series/

 

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