Small business chat update – Annabelle Beckwith (plus update from Sally Evans-Darby)
It’s time for a new Small Business Update, and I’m delighted to welcome back my old friend, Annabelle Beckwith, of Yara Consulting and Never Mind the Buzzwords. We had a reunion weekend last month, along with two other ladies we met on the first day of university, and we’re still rather surprised that the two of us are running our own businesses, however, we always knew Anna would be doing something creative involving other people, and that I’d end up something to do with books. Anyway, on she goes, collaborating, learning, developing new training programmes and jet setting around the world to do so, as well! I first interviewed Anna back in 2012 and again last year. At that point, her plan for where she wanted to be now was: “Working collaboratively with others for larger clients … and maybe I’ll get some of those online products going!”Let’s see how she’s doing – oh, and look out for a quick update and farewell for the time being from Sally Evans-Darby … Hi again, Annabelle! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Sort of! I’m working with other people and have been approaching larger companies for bigger pieces of work, which is working well.
We’re building our own team of associates, so in a practical sense there are more of us to be able to actually deliver larger programmes to clients, and we’re deliberately working with people who have specialist skills that complement our own, meaning that we can pitch for work which we wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
In addition, my business partner, Ian, and I are developing some online products (a series of business scenarios and activities which in-house trainers or other providers can use within their own courses) and the first of these will be launched in September.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Not enough has changed and it’s not moving fast enough!! That’s how it feels, anyway. We’re moving in the right direction, though, and I’m working with the right people now. Our business model is changing as we’re targeting longer-term programmes and consultancy rather than one-off projects, which will give us more financial stability.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’ve learned a lot by looking at what other training companies are doing, and also by looking at what consultancy companies in other sectors are doing, and pinching ideas from them. I wish I’d done this a year ago, as I’d be further ahead now!
Any more hints and tips for people?
Things can take longer than you think they will. But keep going with it!
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
Working with more clients on longer-term programmes, and able to invest more money in marketing and PR.
Perseverance is the key here: in the mature business, things don’t change quite as rapidly as when we’re starting out, and especially for dynamic and changing business areas, this can be frustrating. Checking out the competition and what peers are doing is a great way to pick up hints, tips and ideas, and helps you to stay fresh and at the front edge of the game. Let’s hope things are moving to Anna’s satisfaction by this time next year – I can’t wait to find out what she’s up to!
And a quick update from Sally Evans-Darby of Write Sense Media. As Sally’s business has settled down, she finds she doesn’t have much detail to report since the last time we spoke, although things are going well and she has this to say about her progress: “Another year has zoomed by! I’m very happy to say that my business is still thriving, with a good solid client base along with some new ones that I’ve just started to work with. I feel like during the past year I’ve managed to cultivate a good work-life balance, with many and varied jobs to keep me busy but essential time for leisure too! I love the work, and as I head towards my two-year anniversary as a full-time freelance, I couldn’t be happier.” So, we won’t be following Sally’s progress any more, but I’m very happy to see how well she’s doing, and wish her every success in a settled and balanced career in the future.