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!

IABC UK 2018 Events Calendar

The IABC UK has a dynamic roster of events lined up for 2018 which aim to reinforce the theme, “Developing strategic communication capabilities.”

The 2018 calendar includes the following key activities and will feature more as the year moves on.

January 2018: 

*January 25- Improvisation Workshop with Paul Jackson

February 2018: 

*February 8- GDPR Session at KPMG

*February 8 to 10- Leadership Institute, San Diego, California

*February 12- IABC UK Social

March 2018: 

*March 13- Ideas exchange pilot, running your own business (NHS)

*March 21-22- Montreal pilot

*March 27- San Francisco Co-Event

April 2018:

*April 9-10- Eurocomm in Copenhagen, Denmark

*April 25 – Improvisation in Storytelling, University of Leeds

May 2018: 

*May 14- Future Fit Communication, Instinctif Partners, London

June 2018: 

June 3-6- IABC World Conference in Montreal, Canada

June 28- UK AGM (Madano, London)

 

Stay tuned to this website and IABC UK’s Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for updates. You may also e-mail [email protected] for further inquiries.

Lifelong Learning- What Are You Doing?

By Karen Drury

“I knew from the outset that the IABC mentoring scheme didn’t mean being coddled by my advisor, nor that I would be handed jobs on a silver platter,” commented Miguel Edgardo Cortez, previously a Masters in Public Relations student from the London College of Communication and latterly, a member of IABC’s UK board.

Miguel has been a mentee with the IABC UK’s mentoring programme and in discussion with his mentor, mentioned he was looking for worthwhile, practical learning opportunities. He was invited onto the Board to give the student perspective, and help design events to attract this demographic to IABC UK.

“I’m thankful I’ve been given the chance to work alongside some of the UK’s best practitioners,” he added. “It’s increased my self confidence and given me insights I might not have had otherwise.”

Lifelong learning is essential to any professional, but in communication, where the latest technological advance may rapidly make your knowledge obsolete – it’s vital. Mentoring isn’t just for students – it’s for everyone.

Miguel’s mentor was Mike Pounsford, current chair of IABC. But experienced as he is, Mike has his own mentoring story to tell.

“At the mentor training we ran a couple of years ago, I got into conversation with another senior communication practitioner,” he recalled. “I realised that he knew about a lot an area of communication that I hadn’t worked in – and essentially, he became my mentor.

“It has nothing to do with age. It’s about experience you don’t have.”

The IABC UK mentoring scheme has been running for about five years. Strangely, knowledge of it inside the membership seems patchy, and Mike is very keen to change this.

“We make an effort with students doing their Masters in communication, but really, anyone can benefit and if you want this kind of experienced, trusted advisor – you ought to get involved.”

Of course, IABC UK isn’t just looking for people who want to be mentored, it’s also looking for mentors. You need a specialism or expertise and some experience in the workplace, and to attend the IABC UK Mentor training.

“The mentor training includes some skills which are essential in the workplace anyway – asking good questions and listening, for example,” said Mike. “More than anything, it’s about developing a trusting relationship with your mentee. I found it hugely enjoyable, and learned loads about myself and my mentees.”

If you would like to be either a mentee OR offer yourself as a mentor, please contact [email protected]

IABC UK Events- The GDPR: What Communications Professionals Need to Know

The launch of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is coming soon, and will affect organisations in the UK and across the globe. This will fundamentally alter the scale, scope and complexity of the way personal information is processed. Join IABC UK on Thursday, 8 February when Anna Murphy, GDPR Director at KPMG, will introduce us to the core aspects of the new regulations: the rights of personal data owners under GDPR, what to do in the event of a security breach, and the “right to be forgotten”.

 

For more event and registration information, visit the link below:

 

https://tinyurl.com/y9557euy

Communicating with Governments

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.05.19

Sitting on the plane back from the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta gives me time to reflect on the challenges that the world is facing, writes IABC UK Board member Marcie Shaoul.

This time the 53 Heads of Government from all over the Commonwealth, from Tuvalu to Tanzania, New Zealand, Botswana, Canada convened on the tiny walled and beautiful country of Malta to discuss the pressing matters of the Commonwealth for the next two years.

Notoriously at CHOGMs the country becomes locked down. The fringe events that happen in the wings, the Commonwealth Youth Forum, the People’s Forum, the Business Forum and for the first time the Women’s Forum are shunned by leaders as they sweep in for a two day retreat and a dinner with Her Majesty The Queen who is Head of the Commonwealth.

People Power

However since the controversial CHOGM in Sri Lanka in 2013, the world has continued to change. People power is increasing, reportage by the person on the street via social media is rife and the world and its leaders is having to sit up and listen. The civil society event, the Commonwealth People’s Forum, where NGOs gather and debate now not only feeds into the Foreign Ministers, but also engages with ministers in the run up to the biennial meeting.

But these events are seldom ground breaking. Whatever you think is on the agenda usually gets surpassed by current events, so in this case terrorism and climate change were the hot topics and planned interactions from young people, NGOs and women’s groups can be left floundering in the wings of the debate.

Flying people in from around the world to generate ideas is one thing, but the perception that they may be there to influence the agenda is a fallacy. If people want to communicate with their governments, they need to think smart about how they do that. Change doesn’t happen at one meeting, pressure is not always the best way to bring about change, and placards rarely make a difference.

Opening up debate

As a trained facilitator I often watch these events with a heavy heart. Knowing what they could achieve and watching what they don’t achieve is frustrating for the whole world. Demanding rarely makes people listen in an open-minded way, and locking intelligent and specialised people out of high level meetings causes them to rally. To my eyes this creates a non-productive log jam, out of which tenuous compromise is the only viable solution.

If governments opened up the process before the meeting to interact formally with groups to gain expert advice on the discussion topics (current affairs dependent) then they would be better informed and discussions could be streamlined.

And when lobby groups are invited to the table, demands should become discussions, conversations should be fuelled by people who are listening and responding, rather than those who are trying to say their piece. Fruitful conversations, common ground and alliances are what will change the world. Demands and ultimatums rarely do.

Marcie Shaoul is a senior facilitator in multi-stakeholder processes and has worked as an international civil servant specialising in areas of international concern. Prior to founding Communications for Development, Marcie was Head of Stakeholder Engagement and Communications at the Commonwealth.