Jon Clark is owner of Adjacency, a niche management consultancy that helps Business-to-Business organisations in the UK and overseas grow by re-thinking how they engage with and articulate value to their customers and partners.
For Jon, getting his business up and running fell into three parts, as he explains:
- Why – defining the purpose for the business provides a “north star”, everything else hangs off it
- How – it’s all very well having a “why”, but you need to spend time working out how are you going to do it – product or service or both and using what delivery model. In many businesses these evolve but you do need a minimum approach defined so that you can get started. For us it was relatively simple, work out the service proposition to support the purpose, secure delivery capacity, begin socialising and testing the concept with trusted network and then establish a launch customer.
- Foundations – in parallel it is worth thinking about the basic set of infrastructure you need to be in a position to trade. This was done before we secured the launch customer and included all the usual activities – register the company, open a bank account, create an online presence, creating the model contracts etc.
Like many businesses, Adjacency has had to pivot this year as customers also had to pivot. The business produced two new products and looked at new ways of automating processes. The new products are generating revenue and have encouraged customers to spend on more traditional consulting services. Jon adds that it is more difficult establishing new relationships and building trust when everyone is engaging remotely
Jon made full use of the resources and space at CBL, as he describes:
- The Electronic resources help me research my own target customers and I use the information to help add value to the services we provide. For example, IBISWorld provides a fantastic set of reports and data on different industries and MarketLine has a range of excellent research reports, analysis and trends together with country statistical data.
- The physical resources – the facility provides a chilled alternative to those frenzied hipster offices if you need a quiet place for getting stuff done. Having access to printed media – like journals – can be very helpful when getting your head around a sector, company or subject. I had planned to use the meeting rooms for a few sessions but sadly C-19 got in the way.
- The staff – friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about all manner of things but particularly useful in navigating the immense array of resources available.
So finally, what advice would Jon have for small business owners?
Revenue is the lifeblood of any company so looking after customers and finding new ones must be a priority, especially as it always takes longer than you might think to create relationships with customers and for those relationships generate revenue. To generate revenue you may have to change your products, staffing models or suppliers which can be time consuming and potentially costly, but there are also some simple and inexpensive things from which you can benefit:
- Help others without expectation of reciprocation – karma has not let me down yet.
- Have a method – it need not be very comprehensive at the start but the sooner you define who your ideal customer is and what outcomes you deliver for them the better. I would also suggest you have a few stages in the process to help you balance priorities.
- Technology – platforms can help keep track of deals, partners and contacts – who is important and what is the next best action with them. Much of the sales and marketing stack can be accessed through “freemium” functionality until you get established and in the current climate they can be very useful to help you remind your customers and potential customers that you exist..
- Actively manage your advocates – know who they are, where they are and how much they like to be engaged (too little can be as bad as too much).
- Seek mentors and opportunities to mentor others – I have informal mentor relationships dotted about, most of them have no idea how much they mentor me. The whole exercise provides useful learning experiences and often enables serendipitous outcomes.
To contact Jon and learn more about Adjacency, please visit the Adjacency website.