3 years ago this week I was sitting in an office with the bank manager trying to convince her that quitting my day job in order to start Crescent Digital was a great idea.
Walking into our office this week makes me feel really proud of how far we’ve come. I would like to say a huge thank you to our amazing clients and associates who have provided us the opportunities and stretched us to help get us here – its really appreciated.
Although I had freelanced for many years and held previous appointments at board level, there have been a few things that I’ve learnt along the way that I’m happy to share, hoping that it may be of benefit to others:
- I’ve always loved niches in business. We focussed on ours in order to be great at what we do and this in turn allowed us to work in association with other great businesses where we complimented each other perfectly instead of being competitors.
- The extended informal network of professional associates, friends & family was crucial to bootstrapping the business, so don’t be afraid to lean on your network in the early days. Formal networking later ‘dove-tailed’ into this network.
- The business soon outgrew the home office. Renting commercial office premises was crucial in the business’s development in terms of professionalism, ambition and opportunities. I’ve also heard many instances of potential clients and investors using Google Earth to check credibility based on their address.
- Continually investing time & money in aiming to be the best has paid for itself. Each month, we spend several hundred pounds on software, data services and training. Several hours per week are invested in training along with training sessions at Google and National conferences. This facilitates our ambition to be the very best within our niche.
- It helps if the service or product is exceptional and generating referrals – if you’re burning marketing budget on promoting mediocrity, at some stage your marketing budget may dry up followed by your sales.
- It sounds obvious, but the service has to make / save considerably more money for clients than its fees and / or other client fees such as AdWords fees. In our case, we do the maths for the clients and if we can’t do what we do profitably, we don’t proceed.
- On several occasions, we have politely turned down the wrong types of clients. With hindsight, this was absolutely the correct thing to do.
- Embrace the stretch zone – it’s not always possible to avoid being in the comfort zone, but seeking challenges and opportunities to raise our game have kept things fresh and exciting.
- Self-Care is important – physically and mentally. Taking time off is difficult for many business owners for a number of reasons. However, I’ll admit I’ve not found it easy to have downtime and it’s still a work in progress.
Starting a business can be a roller-coaster and I hope this has helped. I’d also love to hear other people’s thoughts.