The business of being in business
When you start a business it’s a given that you need to be an expert in whatever it is you’re setting out to do, make or sell.
But what about the business of actually being in business?
Over and above your skills and experience, what about all that stuff you might have never had to deal with in previous working lives as employees in a bigger company?
This was the quandary facing Jess Knowles and Dave Tonkin when they set up Perch & Ponder in May 2020. Working mainly in the heritage, healthcare, and education sectors, they offer a design-led consultancy service for people-focused interpretation and wayfinding projects. These were the expert skills the pair of them had developed over years, working for their previous employer.
Access to tailored online sessions to create a business model
But neither of them had ever run their own business before, so, they looked to Unlocking Potential, and their Breakthrough project in particular. What followed were a series of tailored online sessions in business modelling, adding value to your customer, marketing and finance. All would prove useful, none more so than the session on finance, of which Jess said:
There were no silly questions and we really felt like part of a team of people all on the same level.
She and Dave found the input from Breakthrough reassuring and particularly useful at a time when it would have been easy to feel isolated and become discouraged.
Access to grant funding and QuickBooks training
Breakthrough’s help was not limited to raising morale and offering reassurance. Practically, there was plenty of input: QuickBooks training in particular, as well as help to access grant funding which helped them buy an iPad with Lidar installed. This software creates a 3D scan of a space or room; which quickly captures key information not only helping speed up design processes, but also saves time when meeting clients, and prevents the need for multiple site visits (very handy for a young business with clients nationwide).
This practical support and sense of contact and reassurance was a winning combination. Jess says:
They had faith in us and kept telling us that what we were doing was great and we were doing things right.
One to one advice from Breakthrough’s Business Development Managers
Of course, another valuable input for a new business is access to an objective but expert individual whose questions can help you firm up or interrogate your own thinking. It’s easy for two people starting a business to bounce ideas off each other in an accidental echo chamber, never knowing how their plans look when exposed to daylight and someone else’s eyes.
With this in mind, Jess and Dave described the support from their Business Development Manager’s (BDM) Beckie and Sophie as “understanding and patient”. Both qualities were especially important as the pair landed a large healthcare contract which they had to work flat out to deliver. The knowledge that Jess and Dave could call on their expertise and feedback along the way, was all the reassurance they needed. As Dave said:
It was great to know we could call on them when questions arose.