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Small business chat updates – Andy Warner-Simpson and Nathan Littleton

13 Oct

Welcome to not one but two updates from my small business chats – today we’re catching up with Andy Warner-Simpson and Nathan Littleton, both, I’m pleased to say, doing very well!

Andy Warner-Simpson

mugs Andy’s original interview was published on 24 September 2011. When asked where he saw himself in a year’s time, he answered, “A.S Photography are now looking to find premises for a studio. The plan is in the next 12 months to have a fully equipped photography studio in Milton Keynes for our business headshots and domestic portraits. We will still work on location for many of our services but with the option of studio-based photography for those who would prefer it. We also have a very exciting project in the very early stages that I would love to talk about, but it’s too soon to say anything. Ask me again in a few months, and hopefully I can expand on this”. And isn’t he doing well!

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Things are really doing better than we could ever imagined and the business has gone from strength to strength over the last 12 months. Never did I imagine we would surpass so many of our goals and business plans. It really shows that setting goals and working hard towards them really does help you succeed in business.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

On July 1st 2012 we opened the A.S Photography Studio at 13a Stratford Road, Wolverton. This has now given us the opportunity to provide a studio service for portraits, headshots and commercial photography alongside our location-based work.  We found the perfect premises for our studio and have really created a great home for A.S Photography. Our aim as we grow has always been to still offer the same high level of service as we always have and while our workload and client base has grown we have managed to still give our clients the personal service they deserve and that they expect from a family business.

A.S Photography has also teamed up with several local suppliers who work in the wedding industry to create the MK Wedding Network (www.mkweddingnetwork.co.uk). The aim of this group is to provide our clients with recommendations of business we really know and trust and whom we know offer the highest standards possible for their wedding. This gives me the ability to go one step further for all my Wedding Photography clients and help them cover many other aspects of their wedding day with piece of mind. Network members all meet monthly in order to fully understand the ins and outs of fellow members’ business and build real trust in the quality of the work they produce. These quality referrals have not only helped my own business grow but really helped all of my clients in their wedding planning.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

The one thing I have learned over the last 12 months is the importance of valuing your products and services. There is so much competition out there, many of whom charge much less than A.S Photography while offering a lower standard of service, and it has been very tempting to undervalue what we do and try to match these prices. I have begun to realise that if we do not value our service who will. A.S Photography may not be the cheapest but our aim is to be the best while still offering value and a wide range for different budgets. Since realising this, we have really managed to find our place in the market and our clients really see the great value we offer and the high standards in both our work and the products we supply.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I am going to keep this very short and that is to say that you get out what you put in. Sitting back and waiting for it to happen for you is never going to happen. Grab the bull by the horns… What a cliché!

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time.

This year is going to be spent improving on what we have. We have always aimed to grow slowly and sensibly and with such a big leap as taking on premises, we really want to get grounded before we set our sights on anything bigger. If in 12 months I have a steady client base in the studio while still maintaining my current success in the wedding industry I will be more than happy.

Thank you, Andy – it’s great to see plans being successfully implemented and my featured businesses doing so well! I think it’s a great idea to get together with other businesses in the same industry, too. What’s he up to a year later? Read all about it here.

Andy’s website can still be found at www.as-photography.co.uk and you can phone him on 01908 315 282.

Nathan Littleton

Nathan was our Child Genius, featured originally on 17 September 2011. At that point, his plan for the future was to be: “On a sunny beach, preferably. The goals for the next year are big ones, and we’re looking to work with more and more freelance designers who are passionate about what they do and are hungry for more business. With that, the business will be completely systemised to improve client delivery and turnaround times“. So, did he send me his update from a sunny beach …?

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

My main aim for the following year was to grow our freelance network to scale up our operations. We’ve done that quite successfully, with our network now consisting of 23 people/companies (including you, Liz!). In May I moved to new offices on Hagley Road and in July recruited my first in-house team member, Tom. He’s been a massive help, and will work closely with clients to improve the service we offer.

I still have some of the same challenges I had a year ago, most of which relate to where my time is best invested. Tom’s helping to free up some of my time where it would be better used in more profitable areas of the business.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Lots has changed, and over the last few months especially, I’ve worked hard to improve my business systems and processes. I’ve created an online operations manual and I’ll be offering this to other businesses in the fourth quarter of 2012. It’s really revolutionised the way Future Visions is managed from day to day, and ensures that everything we do is done consistently and efficiently.

As mentioned above, we’re now in new offices and the team has grown, so we’re in a great position for the business to grow in the next year and beyond.

Despite that, I’m still working just as hard as I was last year and there still aren’t 30 hours in a day!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’ve discovered the wonders of passive revenue. There’s a mindset change when compared to directly selling time for money, and that change has led to our best year ever while freeing up more time for me to work on the business.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I think it’s sensible practice for any freelancer or business owner to consider what resources they have at their disposal to allow them to be perceived as an expert in their given field. Speaking from stage, publishing a book and creating an information product are all fantastic ways to do this.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I’ve always struggled to create clear, specific goals, and when I started my business I didn’t start with the end in mind. I still don’t know exactly how I’ll get there, but in a year’s time I want my business to be leveraged enough that I have 2 free days in the week to concentrate purely ON the business, to speak in schools and to mentor students.

So exciting stuff for Nathan, too. He’s not exactly where he said he’d be in a year’s time, but he’s made significant progress with his business and moving into new premises has been a big step for both of my interviewees. Passive income, by the way, is where you put a product out there – a book, an e-book, a podcast, a training video, and let it earn money for you in the background while you do something else. I’ve started this myself with my e-book and it’s a great positive step if you can’t create more hours in the day! Where was Nathan a year later? Read on to find out

Nathan’s website can still be found at www.future-visions.co.uk/ and you can call his office on 0121 288 3688.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 13, 2012 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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4 responses to “Small business chat updates – Andy Warner-Simpson and Nathan Littleton

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