It was back in January 2018 when I, Christine Huntingford, one of the founders at Perfect Layout Digital Marketing attended the Havering Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) networking event in Havering.
It was there that I bumped into Simon Lewin, Business Growth Manager (BGM) from Building Legacies. He got talking to me about how he, as a BGM, helped start-ups and young companies with business mentoring free of charge.
My first question was, what ‘free’ free? To which Simon said ‘yes’. He explained that Building Legacies is a fully funded business support programme, delivered in partnership by Newham College Centre for Innovation and Partnerships (CIPs) and East London Business Place (ELBP), that offers tailored solutions for London-based Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) seeking competitive business advantage.
After the meeting I did some more research and found that Building Legacies is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with the purpose of delivering a support programme that tackles gaps in SMMEs’:
This chance meeting with Simon was a serendipitous opportunity to acquire a business mentor that would guide Perfect Layout Digital Marketing to grow and expand both its business acumen and client base…all without charge!
We saw the immediate benefits and following the completion of some necessary paperwork, we met with Simon.
Our first meeting involved answering lots of questions about what we did, how we did things and the processes we had in place to help us do our work. He carried out a full business needs analysis.
Perfect Layout is a company still in its infancy. Whilst there is a lot that we have achieved on our journey so far, there are still many more things to think about, improve on and processes to put in place that will help us grow and succeed.
We came away from our first meeting proud of our accomplishments and achievements to date. It was a most worthwhile exercise that allowed us to focus on our business and have an experienced eye constructively critique how we currently do things. It also gave us the opportunity to cement the ideas that we had for the next stage of our business development.
Our BGM Simon, is interested and eager to see us achieve and do well. He can often be a tough cookie (meant in the nicest possible way!) but his intentions are good in that he constantly challenges our thinking and our processes. He offers valuable advice on matters that are currently affecting us and is happy to put us on the spot to do exercises and role play that could help us gain our next client.
Our task, following this meeting, was to develop our Business Plan in more detail. The Business Plan template that Simon presented us with was very comprehensive and we realised that much more research was needed as well as a more thorough look at our competitors.
It took time to work on the Business Plan but being firm believers in setting aside time to work on the business as well as in the business, we put our heads down and got writing. We headed into the second meeting pleased with the progress that we had made on the Plan.
Simon challenged us again with further questions - making us think even harder about our business. His points were valid and we discussed various ideas, some that we had already thought about but not yet actioned, others that were new and got us excited. We left that day exhausted but satisfied with our progress. On our to-do list that day was the task of preparing a Three-Year Sales Forecast, which we are currently working on.
Whilst it’s only been a couple of months, our journey so far with Building Legacies has been rich and rewarding. The support and areas of focus that we are currently working on is pushing us harder and faster than we would have done otherwise.
We have been provided with expert business guidance that has opened our eyes and encouraged us to focus on areas of the business that we may not have addressed at this stage. It has also provided us with the opportunity to think about ways of expanding our product offering.
We feel very grateful to have bumped into Simon at that networking event. Not only have we received great mentoring (as described above) we have also been offered the option to attend free training workshops and been introduced to business owners in need of new websites or help with their digital marketing.
Building Legacies offers this programme predominantly (but not exclusively) to companies in construction, digital/creative and care-related sectors. Their aim is to assist them in becoming better businesses by providing tailored solutions through:
For SMMEs that take part, they will find themselves considering; new and legacy market opportunities; locating new customer bases and identifying and capitalising on new opportunities to grow their business.
The Building Legacies business support programme is one that we would highly recommend. If you are in East London with a new business idea or your company has a turnover of less than £5m, seriously consider being mentored by Simon or one of his colleagues. It’s a challenging process that is extremely rewarding.