3 minutes with Jo Hemley by You Do Better PR

3 minutes with – Jo Hemley

by | Oct 7, 2021

‘3 minutes with’ is our initiative to support positive communications, gain an insight into local businesses, learn from their experience and take away their top tips. This month, we hear from Jo Hemley, Business Engagement Manager at Worcestershire Business & IP Centre.

More about Jo can be found here. Jo says:

There’s no such thing as a free lunch….or is there?

Take all of the free advice and guidance you can get! Setting up and running a business takes not just time but also investment, whether that’s your savings, a redundancy pay out, or a loan. Seek out and take free advice and training wherever you can. Not many people realise that the business support landscape offers many opportunities to access free support. The BIPC offer free webinars, events, guidance and research resources but other agencies like Enterprising Worcestershire (Economic Development) and Worcester Business Central (the Local Enterprise Partnership) and the Worcester University also offer free provision in partnership with the BIPC. We can ensure that you are able to access our partner programmes and benefit from free support in early development when your business is most vulnerable.

You don’t know what you don’t know

You may have worked in other people’s companies and been responsible for one area of activity like accounts or logistics. But running your own business means you need to begin to master every area of business – not just your own specialism. We meet a lot of people starting-up who understand some functions within their business very well but are unaware of other aspects of business that are critical to their success. To be successful you very often have to set aside your own preconceptions about what running a business involves. You have to accept that you don’t know what you don’t know. If you seek out support and guidance you will be in a better position to identify knowledge gaps and find solutions to fill them. This is where the BIPC can really help you.

The power of support networks

Things can get tough in business. Be ready. Put in place your support, be it  a more formal networking group or something less formal, like the Pathfinder Group at the BIPC. Many of us feel that running our own business brings it’s own rewards in terms of autonomy and independence. Which of course of it does. The flip side of this can be that it’s sometimes a lonely place. You may not have a support group of people in the same the position. You might even think that an hour with a group of strangers, where you are not at the coal face, can’t be justified. I’d like to challenge that concept! We know that those that engage widely with their business community, even those outside of their sector, learn from that community and also find critical practical and emotional support when things get tough.

No plan survives contact with the real world

It’s true. But you’re still going to need one. Without a business plan you can’t to access things like bank funding and you can’t keep your finger on the pulse of your business. Without a business plan you could end of just about anywhere, which may not be anywhere you want to be. To run a successful business you need to set your direction, using market intelligence and business information to inform your decision making, and capture that in a  business plan. The you need to monitor how you perform, whether you need realignment, or perhaps a complete strategic shift – so you’ll need to make time to revisit and think about your plan regularly. One thing is for sure though, if you don’t have a  business plan you have no way of knowing if your direction of travel is taking you to the right place. I’d also add to that, if you don’t treat your plan as a living document that needs input and tending, it’ll die alongside the direction of your business. The BIPC can give you access to many thousands of pounds worth of business information resources  and give you the tools to build and tend  to your business plan.

Knowledge is power

So why do so few business people seek it out? It’s one of the life’s eternal mysteries. On one level it’s understandable. Picture it: you’re busy making and baking the most amazing cakes to fill that niche you’ve found, your business is growing exponentially month on month. I mean why do you need to learn anything else when you are just so busy and the demand is there for what you are selling and the way you are selling it today? The simple answer is because tomorrow is a different country. If you haven’t thought about that, and thought about how you can adapt, reach new customers or become more efficient, well, tomorrow may be another country you won’t be taking your cakes to visit.

Best piece of advice:

Stick to the knitting.

This was given to me by a business strategist who taught me how to look at the breadth and depth of how to make and keep a business successful in a changing environment. Here’s an example of what can happen when you get distracted from the knitting: There was a time when Tesco dominated the UK retail sector through developing a deep knowledge of their market and aligning Tesco to the needs of that market. On the back of this expertise, buoyed by domination of UK retail and mindful of the limited size of the UK market, they decided to enter USA market with what they perceived to be a retail experience aligned to the USA customer. Wrong! Tesco had failed to recognise that this was a very different market with very different customer needs and had tried to sell it a modified version of the UK offer. They had to withdrawer from the USA, losing many millions of pounds of investment which significantly impacted their share price.  But the real kicker? Whilst they were focussed on trying to make inroads in the USA they were not as focussed on the inroads that the Aldi and Lidl were making in their core UK market as they needed to be. The lesson? If you’re good at something in a particular market keep focussing on doing it really well, don’t take unnecessary risks if you don’t need to. You need to stick to the knitting.

More about BIPC can be found here.

To join in with our 3 minutes with initiative, please email: ruby@youdobetter.co.uk.

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