My business, Flavourfy, turned two years old on Saturday, just gone. Happy birthday to me 🙂
Until April 2014 I was working in (what I thought was) a secure, salaried, job in the telecoms industry. For about 15 years previous to that, I’d been working in internet and telecoms regulation dealing with the UK Government and telecoms regulators and bodies, both in terms of making sure the companies I was working for were compliant with the rules and regulations as well as working with the aforementioned
government and regulators to influence regulatory changes to help the UK internet and telecoms industry.
It was a great job and very varied. I dealt with everything from copyright infringement on the Internet to internet safety and data protection; I worked with law enforcement, the Home Office, MPs, Lords, Ofcom, the Internet Watch Foundation and represented the UK internet industry at forums and as Chair of ISPA, the UK internet trade body. After 15 years I was an expert in internet content liability and had influenced government discussions around various important pieces of UK legislation, as well as affected change in various UK Acts of Parliament.
But in April 2014 I was given my notice to leave my job. At the time I was devastated: What was I going to do? Where would I find the next job? I took some time off, went away to Norway on a cruise with my wife and planned the start of a new journey for my career.
I’d toyed with the idea of using social media and websites (internet tools I’d used and experimented with for years and enjoyed as a hobby) to help businesses, a number of times before in the past – usually when I faced job at risk because of industry consolidation, only to have kept my job whilst all those around me were made redundant, but hadn’t really put any serious thought to setting up a business.
So this sounded like an ideal opportunity to start something new. Go it alone. So on the 4th June 2014, having discussed it with my wife during the holiday in Norway, I sat at the desk in my home office and came up with the concept of Flavourfy, helping businesses grow and interact with their customers by using the internet.
I know it’s only two years ago but it seems like a long time ago. My business has morphed and changed numerous times and I know now that this is the natural path for any business. In the early days I was offering everything from web design to social media management whilst also being mindful that I had 20 years of experience in the internet industry and that perhaps I should be offering some of that experience as services too.
Recently, in the last six months or so, my business has taken another turn as I realise that I can actually offer much more to businesses than building websites and running Twitter accounts. The skill set I have from 20 years of working in the industry plus my natural desire to be helpful has made me realise that what I really want to do with Flavourfy is be a consultant, working with businesses to help them succeed in the new online world, bringing them up to speed and offering them the chance to take a strategic approach to online marketing rather than a scatter-gun approach of doing it just because everyone says you should. Plus, being a consultant means I can broaden my horizons, which is why I’m diversifying into other digital-related areas, such as cyber security and data protection compliance (skills which are not so abundant outside of London).
I’ve had moments of doubt, and I’m sure I’ll continue to have them regardless of how my business grows. Times when I wonder where the next customer will come from or whether my business idea really is viable, but these feelings and worries are getting fewer and fewer as I grow in confidence and as Flavourfy grows. When I think that two years ago I’d never worked in Dorset, I’d never had any business contacts in Dorset and yet, two years on I’m still running my business, I’ve made loads of business contacts, made loads of new friends, I’m Vice President of Bournemouth Chamber of Commerce, a specialist mentor for the Prince’s Trust and I’m working with larger and larger businesses doing what I love, I feel proud of my achievements.
I’m still a long way off where I want to be with my business. I have dreams and aspirations of what I want Flavourfy to become and maybe I’ll always be pushing to be bigger and better. But right now – I’ve survived two years in business, working for myself having started from scratch. And that’s something worth celebrating and shouting about.
My baby really has started to not just walk, but run and soon I’ll be jumping and playing with the big boys too. I’m growing, my business is growing and I look forward to working with everyone of my existing and future customers.
But two years in, I also reflect on how lucky I am to have such brilliant support from my gorgeous wife, Julia. Without her belief in me, her belief in what Flavourfy can be as well as proffering the occasional reality check, I could not have got this far. Thank you Julia – love you xx