It’s small business chat update time and it’s always interesting featuring my friend Gill’s clever and enterprising son, Matt Rose of Prestige Quoting Limited. I first interviewed Matt in April 2016, when he’d just set up in business. We then updated things in April 2017 and March 2018 (he’d just had some good news then so I did it early) and here we are again, checking whether he is indeed where he hoped he’d be by now, which was … “Hopefully maintaining steady state. With my first baby on the way, I’m not quite sure what to expect and how this will impact my business. With my Wife able to take a year in maternity leave and supportive grandparents, I’m hoping the business won’t be affected too much. A lot of my clients have been able to give advice and, due to my good relationship with them, will be very understanding if I can’t reply in the timeframes they’re accustomed to. I think a key is to set expectations from the outset.”
Hello again! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
I’m pleased to say that the business is still going and has maintained steady state from the previous 12 months. This means being able to support my family, maintain a comfortable lifestyle and allow Loraine (my wife) to take a full year off work.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Well, running a small business can often lead to a fair amount of give and take. With my young boy now on the scene, managing client expectations prior to his arrival was something I felt was very important. I’m fortunate in that a lot of the business owners I work with already have children and totally understood my scenario and were very understanding indeed.
For 3 days a week, I’m working away from my home office. This has proven to increase my productivity and mean that, for those 3 days at least, I’m not tempted to work into the evening.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
Being an owner of a small business (it’s still just me, and I don’t have plans/desires for that to change), managing client expectations is even more important than I thought.
By setting an appropriate out of office response, having a 3rd party call handler (I use Moneypenny) I had almost no issue with my limited availability post Jude’s birth.
I did have one client raise a bit of a fuss when I didn’t answer the phone the day after Jude’s arrival. I must confess in that I wasn’t too unhappy to see them decide to work with another company going forward. It certainly showed it was time to reassess that relationship.
Any more hints and tips for people?
I’ve begun actively asking for testimonials/case studies post completion of a project. This gives me areas to think about for improvement and also, often, gives the opportunity to celebrate what you’ve brought to a client.
It’s interesting to get the perception of your work from a client’s point of view and can help guide any changes you may need to make.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
As we continue to adjust to family life and new ways of working, my ‘target’ is to continue to maintain the level of business as the previous 12 months.
I’m so glad things have worked so well for Matt and it’s refreshing to read about a man’s work-life balance when a baby comes along, as it’s much more common for women to be asked about this. His plan for working outside the home office three days a week is a great one – even with “only” a house to run, I find myself interrupted by deliveries and laundry organising some days and would love to be spirited to another place! And asking for testimonials is a great idea, and something to use to attract new customers, as well. Are you a chap who runs a business from home and how did you cope with childcare arrangements?
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 (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.