October 2014, the price of oil had been steadily declining over the past 3 months. I remember being in Amsterdam on a training course and having to leave early after an urgent request to crunch some revised sales forecast numbers, everyone was getting twitchy.
By December the oil price had plummeted, and January 2016 saw it drop below $30 a barrel, along with our jaws. Cue many redundancies and facilities closing-down left, right and centre. Hundreds of thousands across the industry lost their jobs, including some of my friends and colleagues. During this period, the company I worked for had also been acquired, so that dished up a double whammy of uncertainty for us…which wasn’t very appetising.
Camaraderie was on the decline, and corporate politics on the rise. Political game playing is my least favourite game, so I needed an exit strategy. Despite how thoroughly fed up I was, making the decision to resign was a difficult one. I’d enjoyed a successful career and worked with some wonderful people along the way. My corporate career saw me travel the world and gain a wealth of marketing, commercial and operational experience that I will be eternally grateful for. My story bank is also pretty special too.
I’d been toying with the idea of setting up my own business a few years prior to resignation day. I always made excuses as to why I couldn’t do it…
“It’s bad timing”
“I don’t have the right contacts”
“It’s too risky”
“We need to save more money first”
“My business plan isn’t perfect”
“What about Brexit?!”
“The stars aren’t aligned!”
“I need to wash my hair!”
Sound familiar? These were my big fat excuses, to hide (badly) the real reason why I hadn’t taken the plunge to set up on my own before…fear. Fear of failure. Going from hero to zero was what I was most afraid of. After such a long period in the same industry and company you begin to wonder if it is just this market and business you understand. I knew my stuff inside-out, but would I be able to replicate that success elsewhere. Was I just a one-trick pony?
But with support from my partner, I realised that NOT doing it would be an even BIGGER fail…like an epic one.
April 2017 was when I finally finished my notice period and walked away. I took a few months off, did a bit of freelancing, built up my confidence working in other sectors, and tried to get comfortable with selling myself (still working on it, I’m a marketing introvert!)…oh, and I also had a baby, so I had to put my business plans on hold for quite a while.
So, almost 2 years later here I am, finally in a position where I can really focus on my business. Although the past 2 years weren’t quite what I had planned, it’s been a great learning experience. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and the type of business I want to create for myself and the clients I serve.
When carrying out some market research to determine the direction that I should take my business in, I came across a statistic that, well, frustrated me if I’m honest. It was that “48% of SME’s in the manufacturing sector said that competition in the market is a major obstacle to the success of their business.” It was right up there with red tape and regulations!!
Now, coming from a manufacturing background in the oil and gas industry, I know all to well about the frustrations of red tape, rules and regulations….and the competition certainly shouldn’t be in the same league.
The default stance may be “well I can’t control the competition”….and of course you can’t control what your competitors do, but there is something you do have control over.
- You have control over your response to the competition.
- You have control to differentiate yourself from the competition.
- You have control to put yourself in a place where there is no competition.
- …and of course, you have control to enlist the help of someone like me!
My mission is simple, it’s to help industrial engineering and manufacturing SME’s overcome the obstacle of competition, achieve their growth ambitions, and move their business forward with back to basics strategic marketing. Because as a marketing introvert that’s my forte, working on the quiet side of marketing, strategy and problem solving….as they say “it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.”
Prologue done, this is just the beginning of My Small Business Story
What people say about my work
“Helen was excellent to work with. Understood our business well. Great communication, attention to detail and a quality finished product. Would recommend to anyone and hope to work with her again in the near future.”Paul of BMC Group
“Helen has a wonderful way of getting to the core of what you’re trying to achieve. She is so knowledgeable about marketing and she shares her knowledge in a way that is easily understandable. The report that she sent through after the session is GOLD.”Jane of Jane Gray Coaching
“Excellent Work. Helen is Awesome.”Bobby of Novus Pay