James joined the team as one of the BIPC Northamptonshire’s Information Specialists in July 2021. You may have already met him at a BIPC workshop, a 1-2-1 session or a local networking event.
If you haven’t met any of our team (yet), business 1-2-1 meetings can be arranged by emailing email@example.com and full details of the BIPC Northamptonshire’s workshop and webinar schedule can be found here Events, Webinars & Workshops in Northamptonshire for Business | Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire (bipcnorthamptonshire.co.uk).
"My story begins as a student at the University of Northampton, where I completed a degree in Business Management & Entrepreneurship. This was an incredibly valuable experience for me, as the course included a broad range of business theory and good management practice. The content was case study focused and therefore gave me the opportunity to evaluate some of the theory working in real life examples, in both large and small businesses across the UK.
Immediately after graduation, I took my first leap into the business world. After much research and preparation, I entered in to an agreement to take on a vacant retail unit and opened my own pet retail business. This was a huge step for me. Not only because of my age, but because I was doing this just as the country was entering into the last recession, a time during which the retail sector was significantly impacted. There will always be barriers and challenges in business, and it makes me proud that I was able to navigate these and continue to build a strong business from the ground up.
By the time the business had reached its first birthday, I had been able to establish the business and bring the finances to a comfortable and consistent level. I had several regular, loyal customers and had created a niche offering to differentiate my business from the local competitors. Most importantly, I was still hungry for business success. Despite the seven-day weeks and twelve (or more!) hour days, I could see the potential for the business to grow further. The business was at a crossroads, and so I sought some external advice to review the different direction that could be taken. My main two options were opening a second store, or a dog grooming parlour in the existing premises. The advice I took helped me review my priorities, and my motivations for growth. Upon review, the decision was taken to focus on PROFIT and not turnover. Having a second store may have brought in twice the revenue, but it would have also brought twice the cost, twice the risk and twice the level of problems. At the time, opening an instore grooming parlour was seen as a relatively low risk, high margin strategy, and meant that I could create additional revenue streams for the business without needing to invest heavily to attracting a new client base.
Whilst this diversification is commonly seen in many of the larger pet stores across the country now, I look back with great pride and joke that this was “my idea”. The grooming parlour in my business opened at least 4-5 years before any of the local large chain stores began to do so.
Whilst running the business, I was always looking to do ‘something different’… to provide a better experience for my customers, offer a better product range, and to be the first business to ‘try it’.
Although life as a ‘small business’ is hard, the ability to be dynamic and agile to gain a competitive advantage should never be underestimated. There are plenty of things that large corporates cannot do as well as small businesses can, and it is always important to play to your own business’s strengths.
My working life after self-employment took me through a range of employed positions – both in the public and private sector and I was lucky enough to gain experience working for private businesses ranging from small family firms up to a large multinational company which was owned by a billion-pound investment group.
I have been working in the business support environment since 2017 and became a SFEDI accredited business adviser in 2018. My time has seen me support both established (often covering topics such as business growth, resilience, and leadership mentoring) as well as new start-up businesses (the basics of starting a business, business planning, and understanding / raising finance to name but a few areas). I also have a particular passion for the Social Enterprise sector.
It is very common for me to find myself in the position of just being a sounding board – running your own business can be a lonely place. Friends and family who have not run a business themselves commonly put encouragement before longer term, logical thinking.
It is my role at the BIPC is to listen and offer an impartial service. The service is free to access, and so you can be assured that the direction of conversation will be focused upon you and your business – and not on anything we are trying to ‘sell’ you."
To find out more about the BIPCs services, or to book a 1-2-1 conversation with one of our friendly team, please visit our website at bipcnorthamptonshire.co.uk
At the Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire, we support entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses from that first spark of inspiration to successfully launching and developing a business. Find out about our range of services here.