Small business chat updates – Dave Bradburn and Matt Welvaert

07 Sep

Today we have updates from two more of my original interviewees from my small business chats –  Dave Bradburn and Matt Welvaert ! So this is the second update for both of them – I’m really enjoying watching all of these companies grow and change – are you?

Dave Bradburn

opusDave from Opus Design was featured last on 7 July 2012  and asked where he wanted to be in a year’s time, replied, “Perhaps the business will have another employee and it’ll be installed in external offices! Certainly I anticipate building on the team – whether as employees, regular freelancers or associates”. Is this what happened next? Read on to find out …

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

Similarly to last year, it’s a case of ‘yes’ in some areas, ‘no’ in others. Other things have taken over, and I’ve rethought some of those plans.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The structure of the company remains pretty much as it has been for the past couple of years. I’m in no great rush to change it. Whereas I previously was looking to employ, that’s not such a high priority now. It is still a medium-term intention but I’ve decided that the company is currently better served by establishing a reliable team of suppliers and collaborators to call on as and when required.

I’m still doing plenty of networking – beyond work/referrals from existing clients, it is my main form of lead generation. I continually monitor the success that it brings and will adjust where, when and how I network accordingly.

I’ve been working on getting the systems in place for sustained growth and have made one or two changes on the admin side – significantly moving away from using Sage and over to FreeAgent for our accountancy package. We’d been advised to use Sage a couple of years ago but it really wasn’t the best option for us. The new package is far more user friendly.

I’ve always bought and managed print on behalf of clients, but I’ve reviewed the suppliers I use and have recently formalised the agreement with one, resulting in the website. This is bringing in an additional but related stream of work.

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

I’ve learned the value of having the right foundations in place and I’ve learned to turn work away if it’s not something that works for us as well as the client. I’m more confident in my own abilities in some areas and have a clearer plan of where the business is heading. I’ve also learned to be much quicker to identify when something is not working and to do something about it far sooner than I would have done previously.

At times I’ve got very much bogged down in working in rather than on the business – reacting to whatever was most urgent. That’s not a great way to work by any means and I’m doing all that I can to avoid it in future. There’s a few decisions in that respect that I wish I’d foreseen a year ago.

Any more hints and tips for people?

To treat your own business as a client. Schedule time to work on your own marketing and development. If you don’t it will always be at the bottom of the pile.

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

Steadily growing the business. The intention is to work fewer hours for greater income (a not uncommon aim!) and to gradually develop the core client base. The team will grow and evolve – most probably through outsourcing and collaboration.

Although Dave says this is a common aim, I’m not sure many of the interviewees have expressed it quite like that – but it’s a good aim, nonetheless, and one I certainly try to work towards with the development of some passive income streams. There’s a lot of talk about networking in the interviews at the moment, isn’t there? As Dave says, it’s vital to monitor what’s working, both in terms of lead generation and in on-going relationships with clients. Treating your business as a client is a very good idea – I sit down and go through my website every now and then to make sure it’s telling my visitors what I want it to tell them; something I do for my own clients! There’s a lot more talk of collaboration and outsourcing, so I think this is a good way to go, and it’s always interesting to see where this mature business is going next! Where was Dave in 2014?

Call Dave on 01565 659089  of 07801 827345, visit or his LinkedIn page, and contact him on Twitter, too!

Matt Welvaert

Lean marketingMatt’s company is Lean Marketing, most recently featured on 25 August 2012. Where did he want to be in a year from then? “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!” So here we are, back for the third time – let’s see how he’s doing now!

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

In terms of the all-important bottom line, absolutely. The business has grown around 20% more than anticipated and I’m delighted!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The type of client we now do marketing for has changed. Traditionally, we have served the B2B [business to business] sector but we’re doing more and more work for B2C [business to consumer] clients now. This has primarily been driven by the growth of our pay-per-click advertising services.

Unfortunately, our website has stayed the same … This needs to be updated to better represent the type of work that we do. A new site is currently in the planning stages and this will have the functionality for us to create custom landing pages for our clients’ pay-per-click campaigns. This will ensure that pay-per-click landing page best practice is followed, regardless of the clients’ website structure or technical resource.

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

I’ve learned that the ‘current state of the economy’ is actually the ‘new economy’, and business owners now demand a demonstrable return on their marketing investment. All businesses still need marketing services to generate leads, but small businesses have less available budget, and unless you can prove that the marketing is working and delivering a return, you’re gonna find it tough out there.

I became a Google accredited Adwords professional a year ago, I wish I had known how powerful it could be in delivering marketing returns before that!

Any more hints and tips for people?

Keep an eye out for our new website, there will be lots of useful information about starting and running successful pay-per-click campaigns, especially using the Google Adwords platform. The plan is that the new site will be bursting with top tips, blog posts, case studies and whitepapers, designed to help small business owners understand and make the most of search engine marketing.

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

I’d like to avoid full-time staff and brick and mortar premises because it means we can continue to be flexible for our clients and pass these cost savings on (or rather not pass these costs on!). In 12 months’ time, I’d like to think that I’d be generating lots of new business for even more great clients, demonstrating even greater return on their marketing investment!

That’s a bit of a cheeky tip there, isn’t it, but we’ll let Matt off as he’s obviously doing so well. Another business here that’s keeping flexible and able to respond to client needs without having to be committed to a possibly costly premises or hired staff – this is a good place to be in as it allows you to move with the times. Do you think Matt’s right about the economy? I think he might be … So let’s see if he’s avoided the temptation to hire staff by this time next year, and see how he’s doing …

Call Matt on  0845 519 5249 or 07990 503931, or email him. The website is at

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.


Posted by on September 7, 2013 in Business, Small Business Chat


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4 responses to “Small business chat updates – Dave Bradburn and Matt Welvaert

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