Q1 Update!

Don’t worry, there will not be any financials presented! It is now 3 months since Jex Business Services Ltd. opened for business, so I thought I would update my network on how things are going after the first quarter. As I have mentioned previously, starting up during a global pandemic was a challenge, and I was concerned that an inability to travel and meet face-to-face with prospective clients would slow down the growth of the business. While initially this seemed to be exactly what happened, as time went on I found that many organisations became accustomed to doing business remotely, videoconferencing, etc. and as a result I have gained work that may have been more difficult in “normal” circumstances. I guess this is all part of the “new normal” – a consultant working from a spare room or kitchen table used to be the odd one out. Now they are just like everyone else!

I have regular ongoing work with clients who have retained my services. I have found that focussing on “what you know” is the best strategy to gain work initially. My network and experience in oilfield chemicals is where I can add value to my client’s business. Despite efforts I have not found that local SMEs in Yorkshire and the North Midlands are interested in consulting services – but I think this is definitely something that would be easier if face-to-face business networking events were running normally. But no complaints – I have found what works and am enjoying what I am doing, and working with some great clients! Ventures into new markets can wait until the time is right.

I have spent a lot of time on the phone (by which I really mean Zoom / Skype / Messenger / Teams / WhatsApp) in recent weeks, reactivating my network and seeking out new contacts. It’s nice to catch up with the industry, spending the morning talking to Dubai, lunchtime to Yorkshire and the afternoon to New York! The lockdown period has also presented opportunities to learn and network through online webinars and conferences – which would normally have involved significant cost but can now be done free of charge from home! It’s great to get that kind of value for (no) money as a start-up business. It is also interesting to hear people’s assumptions about consulting. A few people have asked whether consulting was a “stopgap” until I found a full time job. Although I realise that for some consultants this is exactly how they start out, in my case it could not be further from the truth. I voluntarily gave up full time employment to establish myself as a consultant, and I have turned down approaches from recruiters with offers of potential employment. I have work ongoing, more in the pipeline and enjoy the freedom and independence that consulting gives me. I won’t be looking for a “proper job” any time soon!

Speaking of pipelines… having spent significant parts of my career chasing sales teams to populate CRM tools, I can inform my former team members that… the structured approach to developing a sales pipeline really does work! I have created my own mini-CRM tool (basically an Excel sheet) to track the opportunities I am working on, the stage they are at and the actions required. Nobody else needs to look at it, the actions are all for me, but it is a great way to keep on top of the “selling” part of the business which is absolutely essential to grow a new business from zero.

So things could be worse! I’m happy with what I have achieved in the past 3 months and excited by the challenges ahead. It’s been a while since I could say that. I still have some free time, so am open to discussions on how I could help your business, or just to catch up and network. For those of you in England, enjoy the long weekend (for those elsewhere, it’s a Public Holiday on Monday)!

Published by johnjex

Director and Principal Consultant, Jex Business Services.

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