iMGturns 1 year old and celebrates a successful year of trading.

26th November 2021

The Inspired Marketing Group (iMG.) celebrated its first birthday this week. During the year we've been lucky enough to work with some great people and amazing clients.

 

Starting any new business is tough. But starting a business during a global pandemic could have been on another level. Some told us it's a crazy idea to do this now. Others said get yourself a permanent job as it's more secure...but in truth hardly any of that is, or was, true.

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American essayist John Burroughs once said, "Leap and the net will appear". The notion being that if you take a chance, take an action, then whatever the consequences, you will not freefall. You will be caught in a net.

So, we leaped. We put ourselves out there. And, we survived year 1 and are looking forward too many more years of trading as The Inspired Marketing Group...Fingers crossed

What year 1 has taught us though is lots of valuable lessons. We've been given lots of information & advice during our inaugural year. We've reflected on that and outlined some of the bests bit of advice we've been given, and what effect it has had on our business.

Reflections on year 1

 

Good advice is priceless

Listen and learn from others. One of the first pieces of advice we were given was get good advice (sounds weird, bare with)...even if it seems expensive. Sounds simple doesn't it, but good advice at an early stage could save you thousands in the future. Anybody can give you advice, the key though is getting the right advice. We all know somebody who we respect in the business world. Somebody who's been successful and our advice to you would be speak to them just like we did. Don't fear that initial phone call. Call them up and say "hey, I wondered if you have 5 minutes so I could pick your brains about X?". You know how many times the response was "No. Sorry?". Zero times! 

Top of the list though is get good financial, tax advice and legal advice. That sounds like it could really eat into margins but it doesn't. From day 1 make it part of your standard running costs, and nowadays this advice is largely available on a freelance or no subscription basis. Again, don't let your preconceived views on price stop you from having that initial conversation. Many times we've been positively surprised by costs and found ways of offsetting this in some cases..

Real life example from us. We hired an accountancy firm to look after our accounts and tax affairs. Seems like quite a big expense for a business a few months old, but what they've charged for their services has already paid back in year 1 through efficiencies, advice and savings. We've always viewed this as an investment not a cost.

Cash flow really is king

We were told this. Margins are good to watch. Sales are important. Customer Service is a huge priority. But, cash flow will kill you if you're not all over it.

 

Prior to The Inspired Marketing Group, we'd spent many years talking to businesses, via our full-time roles, about cash flow and how important it was...without truthfully understanding actually how important it was! How could you if you've never experienced it. Totally different ball game when you're looking into Xero on a daily basis and it's you've own cash.

 

So, one of our first appointments was a fractional Finance Director to help us really understand the numbers, our profit and loss and cash flow. From day one we built quoting tools that allowed us to easily understand net & gross profits of any contract we were going for, how that flowed into the P&L (i.e. how much cash we'd need to service that contract), and then what that looked like for not only this year but next.

 

Sounds massively detailed but that level of rigour allowed us to truly understand our business from an overall profit level, a client level and right down to a contract level. This enabled us to make data led decisions from day 1, and go for larger longer term contracts because we understood the numbers, over and above the quote figure, and how that impacted on our business.

Build your business for the future

Good practices enhance you're potential. We've been exposed to a lot of corporate businesses and one thing we wanted to get right from day 1, and were advised too, was our processes. It's much easier to invest that time from day 1 when in all honesty you have few or no clients. So, we took the time to build processes that far exceeded our current needs, and maybe even our needs in the first few years.

We spent a large part of our early days writing contracts, finding ways to automate things so when we got busy, we didn't need to spend valuable time trying to fix things, close loop holes or create better ways of working. We've all been in businesses where it felt like you had to try and fix the wings of the plane mid-flight because you weren't allow to ground it whilst you sorted the issues out. We didn't want that. We've experienced it. It's painful and time consuming. So, we made sure our processes were of a mature business, learning from the past and brought in best in class corporate style rigour, rather than just being a start-up.

Runways allow you to take off

Talking of planes, another top tip we were given was give yourself a runway. The advice we were given was have 6 months in the bank. Why? It takes the pressure off you, means you don't need to jump at the first thing that's offered through panic or desperation, and you can make rational decisions over whether you really want the contract or not. And, yes, the last part of that sentence is also equally true. You probably started your own business because you wanted to focus more on the things you love, work with great people and do things that set your soul on fire rather than anything. Having a safety net enables you to stay true to the reasons why you took the leap into self employment in the first place. It's hard to get a runway, but when you have it it's a game changer. We focussed on the runway from the very first meeting as The Inspired Marketing Group.  Our fractional FD told us this. Don't blow all the cash on the first signs of a good time. Invest it. Use it wisely and have a runway to shield you from harder times.

Be yourself

As Noel Gallagher once penned, "I need to be myself. I can't be no one else. I'm feeling supersonic. Give me Gin and Tonic. You can have it all, but how much do you want it...". Alright the last bit was left in because a) it's a great song and b) who doesn't like a Gin and Tonic. But, you have to be authentic and true to yourself in business was a great piece of advice received. You were brave enough to put yourself out there and start your own business, so don't change at the first sign of struggle. Be comfortable and confident in what you provide, and how much you charge for those services. After all, you are years in the making. You probably bring considerable knowledge and expertise gleaned from many businesses and you've invested in your marketing knowledge and experience over the years.

 

So, be yourself. You can be no-one else. Know you're worth and don't compromise who you are, or your principles regardless if you're just starting out or are celebrating your 20th year in business.

Eat your own dog food

We're marketers. We help sell other people's products and services but yet a remarkable amount of marketing businesses don't actually market themselves.

 

A strange but true fact. We often spend ages saying to clients get yourself on Google, understand your keywords, put yourself out there, do some paid social and you've got to allow time for prospects to go through the funnel because they won't buy from day 1...yet hand on heart how many of us are spending money marketing our own businesses. So, from day 1 we had a marketing budget. It was part of our operating costs to set up the businesses. Simply put you have to practice what you preach...or eat your own dog food.

Ready to make the leap?

With the IMG community we're creating the UK’s biggest marketing department. Populated with the brightest and best marketing talent who have the autonomy, flexibility and support to do truly exceptional work that delivers outstanding results, wherever you want to do that from.

So, if you're thinking about starting your own marketing business The Inspired Marketing Group and its community could be your soft landing and supported transition from full time employment to freelance.

The Inspired Marketing Group acts as a lead generation for your own business and the iMGCommunity also gives you access to likeminded marketers who can help & support you during any placement with us, and your own freelance journey.

 

They are also there for general business help and support. Nobody has to figure it out alone and you have this type of support and advice available on demand.

There is no better time. And remember, make the leap and the net will appear...

 

You can find out more about the iMG. community on our dedicated community page, or you can say hello here.