Fruitful Marketing Ltd celebrates one year in business today! It is amazing to think only one year ago I embarked upon this journey, leaving behind a safe past of salaried employment within industry leading companies in the UK and Europe, to embark on a new exciting but daunting adventure, with 0 clients on my books! During these 12 months I have certainly learned a lot and discovered business can be very different when you are leading from the front and wearing many hats for your organisation.
Now with clients located in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire and London, the company is going from strength to strength. I would like to share with you some key areas I have learned from my experience to date and some advice I would give anyone considering embarking on a new business. I appreciate there is still much for me to learn but here are some of the factors.
Appreciate your clients
Without them your business does not exist! Take time regularly to thank them for their continued support, it is too late once they have gone elsewhere. Always go the extra mile where you can and know what you have produced is to the best of your ability. If you have been given a deadline, ensure this is achievable. Good intentions will not gain you extra hours in the day and whilst I have burned the midnight oil on many occasions over the last 12 months, this is not sustainable or productive over an extended spell.
Plan your day, monitor your time
I regularly write lists and re-evaluate my objectives throughout the week. It is important to be responsive and available to clients, and easy to sit on your inbox, but it is very unproductive. To help with this we use the software Paymo which allows us to create projects and then start an online stopwatch when we are working on a project. This is ideal when you charge by time, such as our retainer clients but also for other projects. For example, early on I quoted for a project based on 40 hours and after completing the software verified that this actually took 60 hours! Whilst the project in hand remained on this set fee I was able to learn a valuable lesson for the future rather than give away 20 hours again!
People buy from people
This familiar saying remains true today. Certainly, in a Business to Business context most of Fruitful Marketing’s business has come via recommendation and referrals. I actively engage in networking and have greatly expanded my business connections as a direct result. I am also Chairman of Alton Business over Breakfast, so please feel free to join us one morning and expand your network too. People want reassurance that you can do a good job and can deliver on your promises. To date Fruitful Marketing boasts a 100% retention rate and has received positive feedback and testimonials for all of our projects. This is a proud record that we will strive to continue. So much new business comes as a result of delighted customers.
Treat others as you wish to be treated
This is as true in business as it is in life, stick to ethics and your principals. As a marketing agency and consultant, you are in a position of trust, offering advice as experts in your field. There have been many opportunities over the last year where I could have made personal or financial gains but I asked the same question ‘is this in the best interest of the client?’ If the answer is no then DON’T DO IT. You have to look these people in the eye as well as yourself in the mirror. Similarly, if I start a conversation or a meeting asking about a client’s family or engage in personal conversations, should the client be charged for this? Of course not! I have been on the other side of this and had engaging conversations about holidays with a marketing agency at the beginning of meetings, only to have this time included on their next invoice…I personally did not agree with this, questioned whether they were actually interested and felt disappointed. As such I never start the clock until the business begins and instil this principle on the team.
Take time to sit back and look at your business
When you are involved in the day to day running of a business it is hard to assess your business and drive it forward effectively. I regularly allocate time to do this as it has proved so helpful. Include members of the team, other business owners or use industry specialists to help you but most importantly make sure you do it! I have changed the direction of Fruitful Marketing, recruited in certain positions and expanded the services offered as a direct result.
So to conclude after just one year I am certainly not a business guru and I have a long way to go on an exciting journey with Fruitful Marketing. I can say with confidence that I know much more than I did 12 months ago and I personally would have benefited from reading this on 12th May 2015! If anyone has read this and gained anything, I will be delighted, so please do let me know.
So what does the next 12 months have in store for Fruitful Marketing? I am proud to announce we are launching our new website within the next month, increasing our digital capabilities with our new website developer, planning free educational seminars to help other businesses grow, recruiting further positions into the Fruitful Marketing team and finally we are hoping to relocate to larger premises.
Today we celebrate 1 year in business and look forward to the next 12 months ahead!