I have been posting small business chats on this blog for well over a year, and so I’ve been catching up with some of my interviewees from this time last year.
Today we’re catching up with Matt Welvaert from Lean Marketing. His original interview was published on 30 July 2011. When I asked Matt where he wanted to be in a year’s time, he replied, “I’d like to think that I would have taken on a part time administrator, to deal with the day-to-day running of the business, whilst I concentrate on bringing in more work”. It’s interesting to see how many of my interviewees thought they’d have taken on a staff member by now. Let’s see what’s happened in the intervening year …
Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
We’ve done some great work, for some great clients and the business is continuing to grow. Whilst I haven’t yet employed a part time administrator, we are using the services of more freelancers to free up my time for more business development. The growth has been a little more sporadic than I would have hoped for but I see this as a characteristic of the economy at the moment. Given the state of the UK economy and the length of the recession, I’m pleased that we’ve continued to maintain any kind of growth at all!
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
I’ve seen a change in the type of marketing that clients are asking for. There’s been an increase in the amount of digital marketing that we’re being commissioned to do. Businesses are being far more cautious with their budgets and digital marketing tactics are far more cost effective, with clients (and us) being much better able to gauge the success of a digital campaign and more accurately measure the return on investment. I think this will be a legacy of the recession, with far more clients relying on digital marketing to promote their businesses in the future. I’m sure there will always be a place for traditional marketing methods but as more clients, and consumers, are becoming online savvy, traditional marketing will become the exception, rather than the rule. In terms of what has stayed the same… clients are still reluctant to pay invoices on time!
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’ve learnt that it’s possible to maintain growth during an economic downturn but you need to adapt your business, to suit the market conditions and the demands of the audience. We’ve recently become a Google affiliated Adwords partner. I wish I’d known how beneficial this would be, in terms of attracting new customers a year ago. I would have taken the necessary steps to become certified, far sooner.
Any more hints and tips for people?
I would say – don’t use the state of the economy as an excuse not to set up on your own. Whilst it is pretty tough out there at the moment, there’s still money to be made. Businesses that have set up and survived during a recession, will be in a far better position to flourish and expand, once the economy has stabilised. Whenever that may be!
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
I’m positive that we will continue to maintain growth. It’s difficult to predict the extent of any growth, given the instability of the market, and you never know what’s around the corner! All I can say is – watch this space!
Well, that’s all nice and positive, isn’t it! And of course I applaud the outsourcing to freelancers that Matt mentions! But seriously, he’s right: if you can start and keep a business going during a recession, you’re tough enough to survive in any economic conditions. It’s an exciting time to be in business, and the key is to keep flexible, diversify, and tailor your services to what your customers are asking for. Thanks, Matt, and we’ll look forward to hearing from you in another year’s time …