Friday, April 30, 2010

Taste Tideswell

I'm working on an exciting project for a great village; Tideswell in Derbyshire-it's called Taste Tideswell, and we are bidding for £400k of lottery funding next Wednesday. If we are one of the 6 lucky villages out of 24 left in the project, we will launch a brand, a cookery school and a community growing programme. The winning villages also get filmed for a BBC1 programme in 2011 charting the development of the project. I'm the "Village Champion" and if we win, I'll be baseing myself in Tideswell for a year. There's a great 3 min video that describes what we are doing. Wish us luck and even if we don't win, we think we've developed a great model for developing a local food economy and the community.

Random Advice on starting a consultancy or services business

I'm often asked for advice on how to set up an independent consultancy business. Here's my views. It works for me but it might not for you.

Networking- essential
-Help others
-Write to magazines
-Go to seminars
-Get on Conference platforms
-Befriend expert networkers

-Small companies are specialists, big ones are generalists
-Big company clients expect small companies to have some really special point of difference
-Develop and take good care of your reputation, that’s your only asset
-Be prepared to work 1 level down from what you are used to (esp interim)
-If you don’t like “doing it yourself” you are in the wrong game
-Beware 50/50 partnerships; only marriages work like that and not all of them
-Limited Company status says you are serious, gives you protection, and is not difficult or expensive
-Have a close goup of complementary associated consultants who you can talk to and refer work to, and who might one day refere work back to you.
-Ask for referral/intro fees. 10% is not unreasonable.
-Understand the differences between Consultancy, Services, and Interim. They are different- not to say you can’t do more than one but recognise what you are and what you do.
-Trademark and copyright anything you can as quick as you can
-Name your company after yourself if that’s what you are selling. If it’s a service product, give it a name but not too tricksy

-Have a server
-Backup, backup
-Take key files on a memory stick as well
-Get the latest whatever
-Find a good local support guy and pay him well and on time.

-Don’t overplan, but have a P&L and approx targets
-Watch cashflow and don’t forget to save money for tax payments
-Get a good pragmatic accountant
-Use a book keeper- up to you if it’s your spouse but I wouldn’t recommend it.
-Pay your associates on time or early- you may want them to “drop everything” one day

Business Development
-Build loyalty and repeats-look after clients
-Underpromise and over deliver
-Cold calling is a waste of time
-Get referrals and recommendations
-Define your proposition and stick to it
-Decide if you are a one man bundle of skills and experience for hire to anyone or you are running a company that delivers a solution to a problem that you understand better than others.
-Private Sector or Public Sector? You decide. You can’t make money on both at the same time.
-Websites work; check the url carefully. Spell it out loud, you’ll have to. Then type it.
-Search Engine Optimisation is key.
-Google Ads can work in the early days but watch the costs
-Email campaigns don’t work
-Newsletters can work
-Capture every email address and phone number