‘Failure to plan is planning to fail’ – it’s an old saying we know, but, in the current business climate, that sentiment has never been more relevant.
At Better, we build brands and so we fundamentally understand that, for a brand to be successful, it must be built upon a compelling business proposition and rigorous business planning. We already benefit from working with some really smart people. We have a great support network and we place great value on networking with other like-minded businesses such as the Entrepreneurs’ Forum and Service Network.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from them it is the fact that, no matter what sector or industry your brand operates in, it is critical to understand the fundamentals of what makes a successful and sustainable business tick – delivering products/services that meet (and exceed) customer needs; effectively managing finances; building the right team; developing a culture for success; embracing change; evolving through innovation; understanding the importance of leadership and, of course, delighting customers.
For exactly this reason the concept of robust planning has been firmly positioned at the top of our own business agenda since we founded the business nearly four years ago, and it is why we jumped at the chance when Leeds Ahead suggested that we apply for a place on the ‘Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Programme’. Aimed at small business leaders, the programme offers up to 30 businesses with high growth potential the opportunity to be mentored and trained by a group of world-class international, national and local experts all of whom have a broad and practical experience of working with, and understanding the needs of, small entrepreneurial businesses.
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It was our MD, Mark Easby, who stepped up to the plate by undertaking a rigorous application process culminating in a (“scary”) interview before a panel comprised of representatives from Leeds University Business School (ranked in the top 100 full-time global MBA programmes by the FT – no pressure there then), Goldman Sachs and Leeds Ahead.
It was a proud moment for all of us when Mark was accepted onto the course because that acceptance meant that senior representatives of the business fraternity also believed in the business we have worked so hard to create. In our books, there is no better endorsement than that. The programme, which started in October last year, proved to be as intensive as it promised to be but, at the same time, it’s also been an incredibly rewarding experience. For example, in addition to the learning that we gained from attending, there has been a real value for us in just being in the room with some of the most exciting and ambitious businesses and social enterprises in Yorkshire.
Developing relationships, sharing experiences, solving real business problems and challenging each other has proved to be an invaluable education that will be instrumental in helping us to transform Better over the next few months and years.
To that end, during the final weeks, the course required each of us to develop our business growth plans. The Better business growth plan is audacious. Why? Because, having put in all the hard work to establish strong foundations for the business, the rigor of the Goldman Sachs course has given us the confidence and know-how to enable us to evolve and enhance the Better brand in such a way that it can quickly move towards becoming the agency we always believed it would be.
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We have already realigned our management team to ensure that we are all playing to our individual strengths and, in March, we invited two new people to join the Better team: Kate Burton, a brand director with strong blue chip experience derived from working at a senior level with leading London-based design and branding agencies; and Adam Gatenby, an innovative and exciting web developer with experience in web, mobile and application development.
And it doesn’t stop there.
We are also continuing to invest considerable resources in setting up the processes needed to build a sustainable business and, as we begin to expand our creative and client servicing teams, we’re also looking forward to moving into bigger premises – a bright new space that will become the Better ‘hub’ for audacious and collaborative thinking and creativity – all of which is designed to enable us to deliver world class brands to our clients.
Ambition is truly infectious and, thanks to the learnings from the Goldman Sachs programme, we feel inspired, excited and even more empowered to build a Better agency for the future. The fun starts here.
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