I wrote the outline to this post many months before we saw our world and lives changes beyond recognition, but never before has choosing the right support network been so important.
When you’re a start up or scale up, there are many people out there who have your best interests at heart – friends, family, or your local business community. Cardiff and South Wales is a case in point, a concentrated, interlinked business community which, by and large, likes to see people be successful.
But as with everywhere, there are some rogues out there who are just in it for a quick buck or believe their own hype.
Working out who are the bullshitters, who to listen to and who not to listen to, and who genuinely wants to see you achieve is tough. Helen and I had our fair share of fails in this area, from day 1! You can’t always prepare for this, accept it, pick yourself up and learn from it.
From suppliers, to agents, to banks, to accountants, to business advisers, to team members, you are putting your trust in a plethora of unknowns and it can be a very tricky path to navigate. Helen and I were very fortunate to equally have brilliant support both professionally and personally from the beginning too, which balanced out those rascals. Remember, nothing is ever a problem it’s always an opportunity. We learnt, we re-charged and moved on.
What we’re experiencing in 2020 is a situation NONE of us have ever experienced anything like in our lifetime, and hopefully won’t again. The nearest perhaps are the recessions of the early 80’s, the early 90’s and 2008/9, but none of those recessions had both the global economic impact and the global social impact that we are seeing right now. Not one. Think about this when an ‘adviser’ or ‘expert’ says they know how to fix it for you. They may know how to mitigate some of the risks, but they won’t know what the end point will be, none of us do, so none of us can claim to have all the answers. As the world changes daily, risk mitigation is the most agile approach.
What we have seen during the Covid-19 pandemic are amazing examples of communities working together to meet challenges head on, and this is the beauty of the right support networks. Businesses who are normally competitors working together to produce solutions, businesses completely pivoting their offer to meet the needs of the nation not the needs of their shareholders, people and businesses supporting each other through purchasing, championing or simply shouting about how great each other are.
There are ways to try to avoid the ‘fake business gurus’, the suppliers who over-spec and over-charge or the employees who tell you they can do a role which isn’t your area of expertise, but actually can’t! Tap into the broader business networks like the start-up communities, co-working spaces and incubators, the people who have been where you are right now. LISTEN to them and LEARN from them. In one incident we experienced, ego got in the way of common sense. We should have listened to the people who knew even if we didn’t like what they had to say and we would have saved ourselves time, stress and money!
Use the big institutions like your bank. We banked with HSBC and our account manager put us in touch with some of our key early advisers who we used throughout. We also had a lot of support from other banks and institutions even though we didn’t use them, sending us information and talking us through processes.
You might be surprised that I say this, don’t be afraid of your competitors. Pick their brains, find out about their experiences, collaborate, you never know, but equally don’t get hung up on what they are doing and allow it to stall you, simply allow it to inspire you.
I was very lucky to have a business partner that I could bounce ideas off and share stresses and achievements with. Not all of you will have that, so my advice to you is find your ‘Fan Club’.
Your Fan Club are your close advisers and collaborators. People who will positively challenge you, the people who tell it you how it is, won’t let you fool yourself, but will also have your back, celebrate your success with you and take pleasure from your achievements. These are who make it all worthwhile. This piece is therefore a great big cheers to my Fan Club who pick me up when I have doubt, often by telling me to ‘get a grip’ 😉 or simply give me a giant high five when I’m least expecting it!
Kate Methuen-Ley MSc, is a business advisor and consultant specialising in business turnaround, growth and strategic planning.
After a 16 year career in private sector, cross-functional marketing, in both SME’s and large corporates, Kate brought the Flying Tiger Copenhagen brand to Wales and Bristol as part of an award winning JV partnership, growing the business to 9 stores and annual turnovers of almost £5.5m. Since selling her share back to the parent company at the end of 2018, Kate has been using her combination of commercial skills and experience and natural coaching abilities to deliver strategic business and marketing support to a range of companies.