Building and running your own business

NHS, Lower Marsh, 13 March, 2018

IABC UK piloted a new approach to learning using an Ideas Exchange to explore issues about building and running your own business.  A wide ranging group including experienced business people, in-house professionals, interim consultants and students from the London College of Communication met to debate topics that concerned them including:

  • What are the key things to create, maintain and sustain a great professional reputation?
  • What approaches do people take to building and using networks that add value to the network and help develop business?
  • What should you charge for your services?
  • Is time the right basis for charging for your services?

The format meant everybody learned from each other in small and then a larger group.  David Gifford from Inscript Design helped capture some visual notes from the session.   Everybody thought the event had provided value, had been a good use of their time and had helped them understand more about how to build their business.  On key objectives for IABC:

  • 89% thought the Ideas Exchange helped people connect with other communicators
  • 78% thought the event had helped develop their skills

So, a good evening all round and a great set of visual notes to capture the discussion for those who were there, and a teaser for those who could not make it!  We will use the format of the Ideas Exchange again as it worked well.  Thanks to Tim Hart and the NHS for hosting!

Mike Pounsford

IABC UK President 2017 – 2018

IABC UK and Leeds Business School Event 2018





After a successful event by Paul Z Jackson on Improvisation in Storytelling in February, for the benefit of members outside of London, we’re delighted that Paul will be running another session on this topic at the University of Leeds Business School on 25th April. More than 100 people attended our last IABC event in Leeds and we are expecting places to go quickly for this event too.


After a Q&A session with Paul, there will also be a chance to network with communication industry colleagues. Thank you to our friends at the University of Leeds for generously hosting and organising this event.


If you would like to come along, register here:

A Conversation About GDPR- KPMG, London, February 8, 2018


Guided and advised by Anne Murphy, Director of Banking Operations at KPMG in London, we had a great discussion about the implications of the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) for businesses in the UK.

Key issues discussed included the risks involved in:

  • Manging the security of the data companies hold on individuals
  • Being able to demonstrate clearly the need for this data
  • Ensuring consent obtained to use the information in outbound marketing activities
  • Communicating the implications and needs created by GDPR to all employees

We had people from GSK, State Street, Madano, Zurich, Axon Communications, B&CE (benefits), Vivid Homes, AWE, Leeds University, and Gallagher amongst others.

Many thanks to KPMG for their support on this and Una O’Sullivan who organised it for the UK membership and her colleague Anne who provided the expertise.

Mike Pounsford

IABC UK President

So You Want to Start a Business, Eh?

IABC UK is putting on an ideas exchange pilot, focused on running your own business.


In advance of that we knocked a few heads together to learn about the practical tools and resources that they drew on as they were setting up shop.


Testing an idea

Stephen Welch is an independent consultant who, amongst other things, advises governments on strategic communications. “You might not know it, but tucked away inside the British Library is a gem called the IP & Business Centre” says Stephen. “It is a great, free, resource which helps you with everything you need to know about setting up a business. And there are loads of resources, market intelligence, data, for you to help set yourself up for success.”


“Not only that, they offer grants, meetings, coaching and 1:1 sessions. For example, we got a meeting with the ‘inventor-in-residence’ to give advice on protecting IP, licensing a product in other countries. He also did a quick financial evaluation (what is the value of this idea?) which gave a lot of confidence that we were on the right track.”


Follow @StephenWelch11 to learn about how the above is coming along.


A place to work

Sophia Cheng, a digital nomad, runs With Many Roots and swears by her Impact Hub membership. “It gives me access to 90+ co-working spaces and a warm welcome around the world”. “An essential resource due to the type of strategic comms projects I run, which often require time in far-flung places.” She adds: “Going it alone, can get lonely, so it’s beneficial to connect with like-minded folks. Many hubs host regular ‘clinics’ – where you can get advice from a lawyer or accountant and informal networking events to make connections in-country. From new business opportunities, serendipitous partnerships or a new companion in a new city, home is where my hub is.”


Keeping it simple

Michael Ambjorn runs Align Your Org and has helped a number of practitioners set up shop over the years. He comments:


“Focus is what people often struggle with the most when setting up a knowledge-based business”.


“Even the best can fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people. One favourite (and timeless) exercise includes a sheet of A3 paper and a pen… try it out.”


And if you can’t make it to the Business & IP Centre (recommended by Stephen above) then have a look at Statista which has a wealth of data. Just be wary of the 1% fallacy, as a chap called Andy Brice puts it. For a deeper dive into the what, how, where and why of starting up, check out Michael’s Business Plan Basics Prezi.


Cash is king

Benoit Simoneau runs 514 Media which is coming up to its first anniversary, which is significant milestone. He says:  


“Finally don’t forget: cash is king. Or to be precise: your cashflow is. As an independent practitioner, it is your responsibility to get your clients to pay you quickly. After all, you can’t spend money while it is in your client’s bank account. Here are five top tips to get paid quickly:


  1. Don’t do any work without a Purchase Order or at least a full written/email confirmation.
  2. On any project longer than 2-3 weeks, tell the client it is your normal practice to invoice 50% up front. Or agreed a staged invoicing process so you get paid at regular intervals.
  3. Be open with clients about “this is how I make my money”.
  4. Charge slow payers more on the next project. Or stop working with them.
  5. Don’t be afraid to withhold delivery of part 2 if they have not yet paid part 1. I’ve only ever done this once in my career: often the threat of it is enough.


There’s a business phrase called “delivery to cash”. What is the time lag between when you deliver a service to when you get paid. For a full-time monthly paid employee it is typically 15: you get paid at the end of the month for the work you do that month.


For independent consultants you should aim for the same.

What is your top tip? Come along and share!

So You’ve Moved to London, Eh? Part 2.

I might be leaving [thanks for everything London!] — But you may just be arriving… So I put together a two-parter with resources for IABC peeps. Specifically for recent London arrivals – but others might find it useful too. Part I here, Part II below. Feel free to share.

Longer term

Meet interesting people in general

If you’re going to be here for a while, you might as well find yourself a local pub. Try the pub quiz and all that to get some banter going. And take a course based on interest beyond work – and keep an eye out for what’s coming up on

Brits themselves don’t tend to strike up a conversation with a stranger, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. For culture-shock resources, head back to Part I of this guide.

Find a place to write & think

You’ll be learning a lot. We all sometimes need a quieter space to sit and think for a while. All these institutions offer affordable memberships – and have ‘member rooms’ where one can sit and work away for a while. It is also useful for when you need to meet people both privately and professionally. In other words, whether you’re based in-house or freelancing.

British Library Handy as it also has the nation’s biggest library attached. £80+
Tate Modern Access to three different rooms – two at Tate Modern, one at Tate Britain. £80+
British Museum I’m told it is supposed to be good. The crowds might get in the way though. £60-80+
South Bank Handy view of the river and a bit quieter than floors below. £60+
The London Library ‘With more than one million books and periodicals in over 50 languages…’ £510+

You could also of course splurge on one of the private clubs –Soho House, Hospital Club, Quo Vadis, Groucho etc. etc. you’ll probably need to find somebody to do an intro for you though. But that’s what those network relationships are for!

Participate in civil society

100s of free lectures, debates etc. every year – usually several a week:


Go for a walk. Here are some timeless ideas – not necessarily just for xmas + many more London ideas.


In the meantime, follow @michaelambjorn and @IABCUK for ideas in-between – and be sure to come to the next IABC UK event and meet your peeps!