Welcome to today’s Freelance / Business chat with Jules Thomas. I “met” Jules via her LinkedIn group, The Last Hurdle, which I think I was introduced to by a mutual friend. LinkedIn groups are great places to make new contacts, both people who are also in your area of business and potential clients. I’m a member of small business groups and a University alumni one, and there are always interesting discussions going on. They’re a good way to get your articles and specialisms out there and being discussed, and I do really recommend using them.
Jules runs a company called The Last Hurdle, which is involved in business development. I like her website because, as I try to do here on the Libro website and blog, she makes sure she explains exactly what she actually does: here’s a quote from her home page, “In plain English I am a sales person, I work with businesses who need more customers, sales or a new business stream and drive their business forward”. That’s all very clear, isn’t it! So, let’s chat with Jules. Unlike some of our featured businesspeople, Jules had already run her own business before, but she saw a new opportunity and, although it’s still early days at the moment, is turning what was a side project into a thriving and successful operation.
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called The Last Hurdle and it grew organically from helping friends and business contacts with their business development. The first case was in February 2010 and I went full-time with it in June 2011.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
The excellent feedback I was receiving, timing and wanting more for myself and my family on my terms.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I have 15 years’ worth of sales and marketing experience; it isn’t a vocation anymore, it’s an ingrained habit and I love it! I am very passionate about business development, and the rewards are so easy to see and measure. I get a real sense of accomplishment from helping other businesses generate extra revenue.
Had you run your own business before?
Yes, I have run my own Recruitment Agency for almost 5 years and another unrelated business with a partner for another couple of years, which sadly folded during the recession.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I was employed on a part-time basis which, for numerous reasons, wasn’t working out for me, so I decided to take the plunge once again, with what had been a side project up until June 2011.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Learn to say no. When I quit my job, I was offered all sorts of opportunities, and as that kind of thing is very flattering, you commit to things that perhaps you shouldn’t. I have narrowed it down to four major projects now and happily they all tie in together.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
You CAN do it. You know you can. It’s all down to activity.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I wish I had left my job a lot sooner, but maybe I needed that extra time, who knows? I don’t have regrets (yet).
What are you glad you did?
I am glad I took the time to get to know how social media works, and now I really benefit from its use.
What’s your top business tip?
Be yourself, whether you are networking, posting on social media, in a sales meeting our just walking around Tesco’s; always be yourself, otherwise people can perceive that something isn’t quite right. Imperative when building your network and soliciting business is to have the trust of the individual or business.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
In the short time since I started The Last Hurdle full-time, I have been approached to run a collaboration seminar and workshop with a marketing peer, very exciting. I am also working on some case studies, which will benefit all involved. So a slight diversity but well within the same field.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
Frantically trying to find cover as I prepare to go off on honeymoon (I will be getting married this time next year). My goals for the business are all set and without going into too much detail I would like to be at the point of being able to cherry pick my clients.
You can find information about Jules and The Last Hurdle at www.thelasthurdle.co.uk, or call her on 01327 359908 or 07709 124847.
Thank you for taking part, Jules, and good luck with the wedding planning!