As you may know, I was first and foremost a business educator and consultant and spent much of my career working with businesses and professionals, teaching professional university programmes and working on live business improvement projects with organisations in my former role of Head of Research (Business) and working in a university Centre Leadership and Organisational Change (Teesside) and Business Improvement (Derby).
Moving to run ESME Creative and ESME Organisational Development, and my other University Consultancy, HEIER, has really been a passion project. A life decision to pursue my own interests, commit more time to the charities close to my heart and with a bit of a nudge from past clients and contacts.
This month things have really gathered pace and we've been busy with a range of projects:
Interim Director of Business Development for a Project Management Firm
I have been spending a day and a half with a construction project management firm (that I originally helped to found in 2013). I have been examining efficiencies the firm can make and have identified a great deal of failure demand. Failure demand is demand that is created from 'getting it wrong/not getting it right first time'. By implementing training and improving communications I'm hoping we can lessen the load on staff there.
I've worked with around 16 small businesses over the past month with 11 concerning the implementation of booking, CRM and email marketing systems. This is more than just building websites and includes consideration for the customer journey, retention, their wider business and marketing strategies, and how we can reduce administrative burden (and thus cost) for our clients.
Since this is predominantly Wix-based I've taken the brave step of updating our monthly subscription plans so that we can formalise a way of offering support beyond our initial development. Our Wix On-Call Support plan will provide Wix users with 1 hour of support each month - whether that's calling us up with a Wix emergency or offloading some web admin to us. It's an exciting development and I've been trying to recruit someone to support me to deliver this.
Making Wix Marketplace and Icon Partners
We reached a Wix Partner level (that we very nearly paid to reach) through organic growth). This really has opened a door for us means Wix have assessed our portfolio and they direct lots of Wix Marketplace enquiries to us daily. This has been so successful that we've really had to restrict the parameters of our offer (you won't see our graphic design services offered on Marketplace but don't worry we do still offer this). It's been great to meet lots of lovely Wix clients coming to us through the Marketplace - thank you for trusting us with your website needs.
I've been undertaking pro-bono work with a few charities to introduce policies and modernise ways of working and support their digital marketing. One of the charities has had a particularly successful 14 months as I've helped cut their annual expenditure by 50% and increased income by 50% against the previous year. A lot of this involved interrogating unnecessary cost, identifying new revenue opportunities and developing 'customer' communications. I also offer pro-bono support through the Digital Boost scheme but this has been quite quiet this month (although we've a few organisations who have now returned as clients).
I've been working on a few papers and books. Working with the wonderful Cathy Brown of Evolve we recently published an article on Positive Psychology and Careers. We've written a fair few articles together now on career mobility (I supervised Cathy's PhD a few years ago and her research was fab).
UK Evaluation Society
I'm a Director of the UK Evaluation Society and it's an interesting time for us at the moment. COVID has resulted in us cancelling this year's conference and next year remains uncertain. Instead, we're moving a lot of our offer online so I've been busy working with the other Directors and sub-groups to make arrangements for these. I'm also a member of the regional Midlands Evaluation Network and we've a Midlands Evaluation Showcase on in a few weeks that we are busy planning. If you've an interest in evaluation or impact practice then do join us. www.evaluation.org.uk
I continue in my role as Charity Trustee for a Village Hall and CVS/CVO and match every paid hour of website work with volunteering.
The Month ahead
October is looking like a busy month for us. We've just signed several larger websites and we are just launching our on-call support offer. We've some interesting discussions with local organisations and may even be sponsoring a girls football team (which I'm so passionate about after playing myself for many years).
We're full for October but would love to explore any November projects so please do get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org