Preparing A Business For High Growth

The first thing to understand about preparing a business for high growth is that there are two main ways in which high growth happens within a business. The first is that it’s part of your strategy. If this is the case, you make sure you have everything lined up, you very purposefully work for that high growth and you will have thought about all the things I’m going to discuss in my blog.

The second, and there are a number of companies who fall into this category, my own previous company included, is that you build your company for a period of time and then you have a realisation that you have a great platform for growth. You can see the opportunity; for instance you might have moved into a slightly different, more niche area and realise that it is ripe for exploitation and development.

Those are the two main scenarios: you have an aggressive plan that you prepare for and want to enact, or you have grown your company organically at a steady rate to the point where you have everything, or at least a lot of it, lined up and ready to go. 

That means you have a really solid base for high growth already, which just needs a little bit of fine tuning to prepare it for the next stage in the company’s development. Either way, the same principles apply, even though in the first scenario everything is very purposeful and deliberate and in the second scenario some of it will have happened organically. Whichever scenario you are in, the key thing is to line as many ducks up as you can. 

Fundamentally, you need to consistently generate enough sales, maintain your quality because your reputation is everything, and be confident that you can maintain the momentum throughout the growth stage. This will take quite a bit of preparation, either through years of organic growth and slowly fine tuning a well-oiled machine; or through very deliberate, very rapid decision making and strategizing that allows you to roll out this high growth in a sustained and aggressive manner.

So, what are the ‘ducks’ that you need to have lined up?

Finding the right people

Having the right people is the most important thing. It’s a topic I’ll talk more about in my next blog looking at the cultural platform. But from the perspective of preparing your company for a high growth phase, you need the right people in your team.

The people were one of the reasons I felt comfortable that my company was ready for a high growth phase. Of course, the opportunity was there, that’s a given. But the people are the building blocks you need to make the most of that opportunity.

Start with the senior team

Building a senior team ahead of the high growth stage is really important. What you don’t want to do is go into the growth stage with a bare bones team and then have to scramble around trying to find the right people. In fact, by the time you’ve found someone, it’s probably going to be between four and six months before they can even start working for you, once you allow for notice periods and all the rest of it. If you only have the bare bones of a team, you’ll be working all the hours God sends and so will the rest of the team, which will push you all to breaking point. You won’t be able to sustain the growth that’s available to you. 

Thinking about your senior team carefully is essential. You need to decide who has the right mindset, who’s with you and ready for this next stage in your company’s development. You may have to make some quite hard decisions. 

You need to understand that sometimes people are suitable for different stages of a company’s development. I’ve seen it firsthand, where the company simply outgrew certain people. These people were great for what my company was doing at that particular juncture, but then the company moved on and, for whatever reason, that person didn’t. If that happens, that person will be happier if they leave and go off to do something that’s more relevant to what they want to do. Allowing them to move on will also be the right decision for your company. 

When you’re putting your senior team in place, you need to select people you know can cope with what’s going to happen over the next three or four years. I’m not only talking about your board members, although they’re clearly very important because they’re going to strategize and drive this growth from the top down. I’m talking about your senior team because they will generally be the ones in charge of delivering this growth. 

I’ve already mentioned the importance of making sure you can generate enough sales. But that alone isn’t enough. One of the key things is protecting your reputation. You have to maintain quality throughout a growth period because if you don’t, you damage your quality and you will lose clients, probably for good. 

To do all of this as a CEO, you’ll need some help. If this is your first company, you especially want some help from people who have been there and done it before.

This is where a non-exec can be invaluable. Bringing a non-exec in ahead of a high growth phase, someone who has got experience of what you are about to get into, is really wise. They can bring their experience to the table to help you avoid the mistakes that they may have made, or that they saw their bosses make. My experience of non-execs has been nothing other than hugely beneficial and I believe they can add considerable value. 

They will help you make the right decisions and they’ll query things. Nine times out of 10, when they query things, your non-exec will be right. But occasionally they’re not right. As a CEO, there’s no harm in sometimes saying, ‘I understand what you’re saying, but I still think this is the right thing to do’ and just going for it. Because at the end of the day, it’s your neck on the line and no one else’s. 

Controlled growth is the key

Your sales are really important for achieving high growth. Obviously, you’re going for high growth because you think there’s an opportunity, but you still have to generate leads from that opportunity and turn them into sales. That means you need to have a strong sales pipeline. 

To develop this pipeline, you need to have your CRM set up with a robust process in place, you need to have all the basic stuff in place so that when you put yourself out there and people become interested in what you have to offer, the sales leads come in and those leads turn into sales; a consistent pipeline is key. And if you’re growing that needs to increase, increase, increase. But you’ve got to have a plan to do that. 

What you want to avoid is having a three-year plan, but one year in you run out of momentum and take your eye off the ball on sales because you’ve been concentrating on delivery. You’ve got to maintain that momentum. But also, you’ve got to maintain your quality so there is an absolute balance to be had. This is important: it has to be controlled growth. If you let it get out of hand and then you start to struggle to deliver, that’s a really bad thing. Equally, if you don’t have enough sales coming in that’s a really bad thing. 

The skill, which is really hard to master, is to bring the right sales in at the right time. It’s almost impossible to do this perfectly, but you have to get it as close as you can to that perfection when you’re going for high growth. 

What’s your Plan B?

One of the challenges if you don’t find that balance is that sales can exceed recruitment. In this case, you need to have a plan B. 

If you’re in a situation where you’ve won a lot of business but can’t take on enough people quickly enough, you need to maintain your reputation in the marketplace and look after your customers. One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is to reach out to your competition. Speak to your competitors – the ones you know are doing a good job – and tell them that you’ve got too much work on at the moment to take this client on. 

At Cake, we had great relationships with most of our competitors. We exchanged work with them when we needed to. Sometimes they’d be busy and we could cope with the extra work; sometimes we’d be busy and they could cope with the extra work. This was all based on mutual respect and cooperation between competing companies. It was something that worked really well for everybody. 

The key to making this approach work is to form good relationships with other companies working in your area and make sure it’s reciprocal. In my experience, money doesn’t change hands when you hand the lead over. It’s a gesture of goodwill. The idea is that it’s reciprocated at an appropriate point further down the line. I’ve found that’s the best way to work. 

Of course, some companies will never reciprocate, in which case you don’t pass on work to them again. But I would say the vast majority of companies are quite happy to work in unison. Even though they are your competition, it can be friendly competition, cooperative competition. 

Have a recruitment plan

Recruitment is another important consideration when you’re preparing for high growth. The recruitment market generally in the technical arena is tough at the moment. UK tech is growing, particularly in the northwest and in Manchester. We’ve got all sorts of companies moving to Manchester at the moment, competing with us; Amazon, Google, Hewlett Packard to name but a few. They’re all fighting for the best people. In my next blog I’m going to talk more about culture, which is incredibly important as a differentiator. But when it comes to preparing for growth, you need to have a plan for your recruitment pipeline. 

At Cake, we got to a point where we were a team of about 40 people and we needed to get to closer to 80 people, so we hired an internal recruiter. That was a really sound decision. You have to do as much as you can. That means all the right stuff in terms of putting your company out there on social media. We always managed to recruit great permanent staff because of the way that we projected ourselves into the marketplace. But if you haven’t got that you’ll probably need a couple of good recruitment companies behind you to help you grow., which will hit your bottom line.

If you have to involve recruitment companies, and we never did in terms of recruiting permanent staff, although we used them for contractors, you need to make sure that you have decent cash flow and enough capital in place because they don’t come cheap.  

However you decide to recruit, you’ve got to have a plan. It’s got to be robust,and it’s got to keep up with the momentum that your business is gaining. The key is always trying to recruit ahead of what you need as opposed to recruiting behind when you’re in a high growth phase. I mentioned this briefly, but I’m going to mention it again: Only grow within your means so that you protect your reputation.

Don’t overlook the office

Office space can often be an overlooked factor, but it’s one that can impact your ability to grow. What you can’t do is start to cram more people into an office space that clearly isn’t big enough. You need enough meeting rooms and enough desk space. If there are too many people in a confined space then it’s not good for anybody. 

Think carefully about your office space because, much like recruitment, this is something that takes time to get right. Finding the correct office, getting it fitted out and having everything done is probably a six-month process. You need to think about it well ahead of your high growth stage, and factor it in. 

Either you have a plan to move to a bigger office, or you already have the space you need and you grow into it. Look at whether you have the ability to extend that space if necessary, such as by hiring more office space on another floor in your building, for example. Just make sure you have a plan to cope with physical expansion.

The value of a Financial Director

Last, but by no means least, you need to consider your financial resources. What I mean specifically is making sure that you have enough money available to do everything you need to before you enter your high growth phase. 

Recruitment costs money. Office space costs money. Wages cost money. Training costs money. The likes of new licences and software cost money. New equipment for people to work on costs money. You need to make sure you have thought long and hard about how much money you are going to need over the next couple of years and that you have it lined up and ready. I can tell you now that banks and financiers don’t appreciate last minute, desperate calls for funding because you’ve run out of money.

Cash flow is king. Don’t underestimate its importance. You can be profitable and have high growth, but then you run out of money and your company goes bust. All because you didn’t have your finances in line. My recommendation is to always have a specialist in place to help you with this. 

When you’re small you cannot afford a Financial Director (FD). Even when we had 70-plus people working at Cake, we didn’t have a full-time FD. But we did have a part-time FD who was absolutely invaluable in terms of presenting the correct financial information in the form of management reports and ad hoc stuff that we needed, based on certain scenarios, so that we could plan correctly from a financial viewpoint and particularly re cash flow. Having that cash flow and the amount of capital you need to fund the high growth phase is absolutely vital for this stage of business development. 

Establish strong foundations

You can’t just focus on one of these areas. You’ve got to have everything working in perfect unison to achieve sustained high growth, and that means planning. Your recruitment might be too slow; your sales might be running away with themselves; you might run out of office space because you’ve underestimated how much space you need. There are a whole bunch of things that can hinder your ability to cope with growth. Plan for them and protect your reputation at all costs. 

Ultimately, you need to be happy that you’ve got a solid platform for growth. That means you’ve got a strategy in place, you’ve thought about all the different scenarios that can happen and you have tried to keep everything on track as best you can. Of course things are going to happen and you’re going to have to deal with them in true entrepreneurial style. But don’t procrastinate. Deal with issues immediately. 

With a solid platform, a bit of tenacity and common sense, you can absolutely achieve high growth.


Building A Cultural Platform

I believe that any business needs to have a purposeful cultural platform they can build their business on. 

It makes such a difference that I’d go so far as to say it’s a necessity in this day and age, particularly given the need to fight to attract good people. Good people go to companies that they believe they are going to feel comfortable in and where they can grow. 

They’re also looking for somewhere they can make a difference, where a high degree of autonomy and freedom is built into the culture. Those are the kinds of companies I think people want to work for.

How I discovered the importance of company culture

When I look back, I’ll be honest, I haven’t always been a massive advocate of culture. It’s really only something that’s been talked about in the last decade or so. But I would say that we started to recognise the value and importance of culture about three years into the Cake project, which would have been about 15 years ago now.

As I’ve said before, like a lot of good ideas, sometimes you stumble across things. You observe something, think that it’s interesting or just a really good idea that worked for whatever reason. This was no different. At my previous company, Cake, it actually started with our CTO effectively beginning to build a personal brand for himself and in doing so put the company name out there.

As a company, we began to write books and our CTO took the lead. We used them as proof of expertise, but this really interested the team and they wanted to get involved. They were proud to be an author of a published book. One of our books, Pro Spring 2, was 1,200 pages. It was published in 17 different languages, including Mandarin and, around 2008, which I believe was the biggest selling book about that particular technology that year. 

For a company that doesn’t sell books for a living and does it almost as a hobby, that’s an interesting statistic. What this book, and our others, did was elevate the company’s profile, all because of the authors, their expertise, and the people within our team.

From here, we moved into blogging and again it was our CTO who took the lead. But other members of the team also started getting involved, and not only with writing blogs. Our CTO and other team members began to speak, initially in front of the team at what we called ‘lunch and learns’. These were a great way for people to gain confidence speaking in front of people and in front of their peers. 

From here, people moved onto user groups and once you’d done a few user groups and gained more confidence, you’d move onto conferences. Some of the bigger user groups can have 100 plus people in a room. Conferences we were involved in can be anything from 30 people to 700 people if you’re delivering a keynote. Before we knew it, the concept of building personal brands became a fundamental part of the culture of our organisation. 

We began to realise the importance of the culture in terms of raising a company’s profile, but it all started with raising the individual’s profile. This generated sales and made potential employees interested in working for the company because they were hearing all about the very cool things we were doing. 

They related to the technologies we were using and wanted to use them too, but didn’t have the opportunity to. That meant they’d apply for a job with us. This is how it all started. 

This prompted us to look at the other elements that were integral to building a solid cultural platform within the business, and I’ll give you an overview of the main ones here. 

Setting up the right environment

Your environment is very important. When we moved into a new office, we took the opportunity to really think about the office we had and what we needed. You hear about some places that have giant slides and bean bags everywhere and all of that kind of stuff. But your environment isn’t about any gimmicks. It’s about creating an office that people are comfortable and creative  in. 

We wanted everyone to be able to go to different areas of the office to get different experiences. That meant having places to relax in, a sofa to sit quietly on in a corner, somewhere to be social, standing desks, somewhere where people could go and do their own thing without interruptions, and meeting rooms. But most importantly, we wanted to foster great communication. 

We had whiteboards all over the office, even on the table in our coffee shop, so that people could scrawl while having meetings. We also installed great communication tools in each of the main meeting rooms, so that people could have a high quality video conference. 

This was important because 80% of our business, towards the latter end, was outside of the UK. We were building systems for big companies, particularly in the US and the Middle East. 

Ultimately, we tried to make a comfortable, relaxing and creative ambience in the office and we thought really carefully about how we did that. 

One of the main things was making sure there was plenty of space, so that people weren’t crammed in like they were in a chicken coop. That also meant making sure there were enough meeting rooms for our needs. 

Equip your team for success

Another really important element of your company culture is providing good quality equipment. We supplied everybody with technology that was never more than three years old. Whenever something passed that age, we replaced it. 

People could have two high-quality screens if that’s what they wanted. We made sure wrist rests were available for everyone who wanted them. These are all things to make sure people are comfortable in what they’re doing, and therefore that they could be very productive.

We were also very early adopters of Software as a Service (SaaS). I’m talking about starting to consume software services 15+ years ago, such as using digital source code repositories. We ended up using GitHub as our tool of choice there, for example. We went through various iterations of these different tools, and as new options came out and were slightly better, we could quite easily transition. 

We would always try to use the best-of-breed Software as a Service tools, which really helped productivity as well. This also meant that we could quite happily allow people to work from home a couple of days a week if that’s what they wanted to do. 

I’m a big believer in face-to-face contact. It’s important for the company. Also, more importantly, it’s important for the people because you cannot beat face-to-face contact for collaboration and learning from others. You can try and replicate it online, but it’s not quite the same. 

We used to encourage people to work from the office, collaborate with their team members, bounce ideas off each other, code together, do whatever they needed to do like go into a little bit of a huddle to try and solve a problem with a dry whiteboard and a few really bright people. 

We also recognised that if people needed the flexibility of working from home because they were going to visit the dentist or the doctor or they were waiting for a parcel or sofa to be delivered or whatever, then that was perfectly fine as well. We had a flexible working environment but it was controlled. 

We still needed people to be online when our customers were online and when the rest of their team members were online, so while there was a degree of flexibility, it was controlled. I like to think that we got the best of both worlds where productivity remained really high, but people had a decent work-life balance in the way that we operated. 

What perks can you offer?

We also worked hard to provide perks that would be of value to people. We had an idea box. One day, someone said we should have fresh fruit available for everybody, every day, so we did. It didn’t cost us too much money, people appreciated it and it made people more healthy. Everybody’s a winner with that kind of idea. 

We also had an online perk system that people could log on to and get 20% off this or 10% off that. And, of course, we offered some of the more standard benefits.  

Cultivate a culture of improvement

I believe it’s really important to have a culture where you encourage people to improve all the time. But it’s not only about encouraging personal improvement, it’s also about sharing their experiences. At Cake that meant they were encouraged to write about it or talk about it. And I get that this isn’t for everybody, but somewhere between a third and half the company, in one form or another, did some expert content sharing to their peers. What that meant was that, as they improved, gained knowledge, tried things and were successful, they shared that with the community. 

One of the really useful things that came out of this approach was the benefit to the community. But the other was the benefit to individuals and this actively encouraged people to continually want to improve. 

As a business, that meant if people wanted to go on a course we would try and facilitate that. If people wanted books all they had to do was submit the link to the book on Amazon, it would go to our administrator and that book could get ordered, no authorisation needed.

The only proviso was that once it was finished, it was put into the library. This was a bookcase in the office, and anyone could help themselves to the books. If there were particularly relevant and popular books, then we would order several copies. 

This all fed into continual technical improvement, which was built into the company. That philosophy actually manifested in other ways too. 

For example, we would always encourage people to look at new components and new code libraries, new ideas, techniques, even occasionally new languages where we thought there would be a potential benefit and if it was relevant to what we were doing as a company. 

We actively encouraged people to try stuff and follow that up with a lunch and learn. If that got traction from some of the other engineers then it could potentially become a thing within the company. 

This element of the cultural platform, the sense of continual technical improvement, also manifested brilliantly to our clients because people had a breadth of skills in the company, and an expert opinion on things, which always translated really well.

Communication is key

We worked hard to ensure there was always good communication. Of course, the bigger you get the harder that gets, so the bigger we got the harder we tried. This meant we had to make communication a little bit more formal. 

For instance, we’d have a quarterly update. In these meetings the senior team talked about the good things that were happening, but I’d also talk about some of the things that were causing us an issue, and what we were doing about it, so that everyone had a realistic appreciation of where the company was and how it was doing.

There are certain things that, clearly, you want to shelter people from but I think we were a pretty transparent company. People knew exactly how we were doing. There was exciting stuff to share the bigger we got, the more experience we got and the more embedded in the Scala world (which is a technology we specialised in) we became. 

We began to work with bigger and bigger organisations and they were exciting and working on really exciting projects. All of this really helped with the momentum and growth of the company. 

We used to send out a monthly newsletter to the team, which had details of what was happening between the quarterly reviews. At this point, there was so much going on in the company, leaving it three months before you talked about it felt too long. 

If something really interesting was happening we’d have an ad hoc meeting and get everyone together with maybe an hour’s notice. At these meetings, I might stand up and talk but it wouldn’t be all about me. I’d get the team involved too – sometimes there would be eight or nine people speaking at these meetings because it was important to make sure all the different parts of the company were represented. 

All of this comes back to the culture within the company. It’s about communication and continual technical improvement. It’s about building personal brands and encouraging people to talk about their expertise. It’s about providing people with the right tools and giving them reasonable benefits that are relevant and not just offered for the sake of it.

Don’t neglect research and development

We wanted to be at the forefront of technology, using the latest tools, toys and processes. Ultimately, this manifested in research and development. That could be research and development on internal tooling, or it could be research and development on behalf of clients. 

Sometimes we’d be working on something that was so cutting edge we needed to do a proof of concept – POC  – first and that involved some research before we could even start, just to make sure that what you’re discussing is theoretically possible. Then we’d try to build whatever it was in a very, very basic format where you’d get the technology running and doing what it was meant to do but it wasn’t pretty. 

From here, we’d develop a minimum viable product  – MVP. And then you’d move into a 1.0 and beyond for your clients. This meant research and development was always a major part of what we did as an organisation.

People should always come first

Finally, and actually most importantly, are people. I’ve left this element to last on purpose because, for all of this to work, you have to find the right people that fit this kind of profile. When you have a small team and you are beginning to develop your own culture, you need to understand that the people in your team are the seeds of that culture. They will do things naturally that you make you think ‘Oh, that’s interesting. Okay, we should do more of that?’ 

Picking up on those things is how you, slowly but surely, begin to build your culture. Eventually you get to a point where it becomes more and more apparent what your culture is. It happens fairly organically, but needs steering. 

At the point where you have something fairly substantial, your culture in itself becomes an entity. You can talk to new employees about your culture, what your ethos is as a company, how the company operates and all that kind of good stuff because people want to understand these things. If you find a really good job candidate, then it’s incumbent for you to sell the company as much as it is for the interviewee to sell themselves. It really works both ways. 

Having a great story to tell about the ethos and culture shows that you not only have a solid culture in place, but that you understand its importance. It’s also important for people to understand that it’s continually evolving and improving the more people join your team. It’s very attractive to potential new employees. 

Don’t underestimate your culture’s effect on clients

The last thing I’m going to talk about is the effect that it has on clients. At Cake we talked about our ethos, our values and our culture in proposals. When you talk to clients about this at an early stage, it becomes a sales tool. It’s a little bit like when you’re talking to people at interviews  –  it’s the same thing with clients in that they’re effectively interviewing you when you do your sales pitch. 

We weren’t salespeople, we just talked to clients honestly about what we believed in. We didn’t have a sales team, which meant all our clients had already heard about us and they contacted us, we didn’t go looking for them. Usually they’d heard about the books that we’d written, read the blogs, seen our content on LinkedIn or Twitter, or they’d seen us speak at a conference or user group. 

All these elements that had developed to comprise our culture became our sales tools. Ultimately, clients came to us because of that. 

What I found particularly interesting was that when we were dealing with them, they were often so impressed with the knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm of the team that they wanted to emulate it. Clients often used to talk to us about our culture and ask, ‘How do we implement this in our team?’ 

We were only too happy to explain how our culture started and how we fostered it by encouraging the behaviours I’ve talked about above. When someone copies you, it’s a huge compliment. 

Reap the benefits of a strong cultural platform

When you look at a company with a strong culture, you can see all the benefits it brings: great staff retention, higher sales, more motivated teams, higher productivity and happier people. All of that ultimately leads to a better bottom line which helps sustain high growth, if reinvested. But it all stems from building the right kind of culture within the team. 


The Post-Acquisition Void

If you read my previous blog, you’ll know that Cake Solutions, the company I co-founded, was acquired by a larger organisation in 2017. That brought 17 years of the business as I knew it to an end. I spent almost two years following the acquisition working for the new organisation. 

When Cake was acquired, I fell into what I describe as the post-acquisition void. I’d spent almost two decades putting my heart and soul into building a company. Many entrepreneurs in a similar position will more than likely have also dedicated at least a decade to their business. Then I’d concentrated on the acquisition itself. Making sure that you hit the various parameters and tick all the boxes, which is a big job, and not one to be underestimated. It’s when you come out of the acquisition that you tend to enter the post-acquisition void. 

You don’t have your business to focus on any longer. The acquisition has been successful and suddenly you’re free to begin to think about what to do next. That’s where I found myself around two years ago. 

Where to next?

After Cake was acquired, I stayed with the business and worked under the new organisation. During that time I realised that my skill set was better suited to working with smaller companies, being entrepreneurial and starting small companies and taking them into high growth. Even though the acquiring company was fantastic to me and to work for, I no longer had the freedom to make snap decisions led by a gut feeling, everything took longer, much longer, and had to be justified in more than just my head. It just wasn’t me!

At this stage, I felt I had a really good idea for a new business and I decided I was going to jump straight back in and build another business. I thought I’d be able to do it more quickly and better than last time, because I’d learned so much on my journey with Cake. I’ll be sharing a lot of what I learned in this series of blogs, and I’m hoping that those learnings will be useful to you too.

Crucially, in the year after I left the company I decided to take quite a bit of time off to go on holidays and spend time with my family. After all, 17 years of building your business takes its toll, so I took what I realise is now a very wise decision to go on holiday, take time out and begin to think about what would come next and to start planning my future.  

While I was planning this new business, I caught up with a guy that I started a business with back in 1999. We were talking about his business, which is absolutely flying and doing incredibly well with 500 employees based in Manchester, and during our chat he said, ‘Guy, I don’t understand why you’re going straight back to running and building another company. What you should consider doing is working with other companies and giving them the benefit of your experience.’

That chance conversation planted a seed. It made me sit back and think about what I really wanted to do, and also examine why I was so keen to jump straight in and build a new business. During this process, I realised that I was doing it to prove a point to no one else other than myself that could do it twice. That’s not a good basis for starting a new company, even though I still felt that I had a good idea that would be successful. This realisation prompted me to hold fire on my business idea and instead start working with other companies. 

Changing direction

I was co-founder of & co-investor in  But because of my role in the corporate world, I couldn’t spend any time in that company. That meant my ex colleague was running that business and I was effectively just an investor until I left my corporate role. 

I started working with at least one day a week, sometimes a bit more, in my capacity as a non-exec to try to make a difference to the business. I believe I’ve had a positive impact on that company. But even though I’m now more heavily involved in this company, I still have time to work with other companies. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

I’m now working with three companies effectively as a board advisor and an investor. It’s important to me that I invest in every company I work with, because that shows that I have a genuine belief that they’re going to do well and that I can protect my investment by working with them. It allows me to give them the benefit of my experience and hopefully between us we’ll make the company a big success and therefore my investment will also be a big success. 

I’ve also found that I’ve met people along the way who have a chat with me about an idea they’ve had and in the course of those conversations we realise that we share the same kind of vision and thought process for the idea. As a result, we’ve actually started working towards setting up new companies, which won’t require 100% of my time and won’t require 100% of their time. We’re deliberately setting up the business to scale by bringing in the appropriate people around us who will do the day-to-day work, while we will be involved as investors, and as members of the board as well as owners. That means we will drive the strategy for the business and build the right team to take that business forward and hopefully make a success of what we believe are really good ideas.  

By taking some space and time instead of diving straight into a new business that would have taken up all of my effort, I’ve found greater freedom and a new direction that suits me. I’m involved in multiple businesses. I’m working with people who I enjoy working with. I’m helping other people to grow their businesses. 

New-found freedom

One of the most important things that the acquisition of Cake gave me was financial freedom. It has given my family financial security and it’s allowed me to invest in other companies and work with those companies really closely to help make them a success, which is  fantastic. What’s more, it’s allowed me to begin to build a couple of brand new businesses with some really interesting partners. I’m working on businesses that I couldn’t set up on my own, but these are also businesses that my partners couldn’t establish on their own. We complement one another and get on really well, which is really important. And so far, everything is looking good. 

But more than financial security, the acquisition has given me the freedom to choose what I want to do next. I found myself in the post-acquisition void, but instead of rushing straight into the next business idea to fill that void, I took some time out and I’d strongly advise any entrepreneurs who find themselves in a similar position to do the same. Don’t jump in and make decisions straight away. Take some time out, go on some nice holidays, take plenty of time off with your family and spend time with your friends. This time will bring you clarity, and it can also bring you new opportunities.

When people hear that you’re on the market, so to speak, they’ll contact you with opportunities. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many people have contacted me. I have options. 

That’s the other thing that this acquisition, and ultimately the money, has given me: the freedom to choose who I want to work with and what I want to work on. It’s given me the freedom to continue to make a greater positive difference in the world. 

Making a difference

I’ve been able to get a good balance of projects, some that are advisory and investments and others that require more involvement on my part. I have also been able to choose to work with a charity and a not-for-profit organisation.  

For example, one of the projects that I’m involved with is a really noble project in the finance world, which is trying to tip the balance in favour of the consumer when things go wrong. 

I’m now involved in multiple businesses as an investor, an advisor, or a founder and while money is a measure of your success, it’s not the factor that drives me. The driver is making a positive difference in everything I do from the people I’m working with and the products and services they’re offering, to generating wealth and employment in the UK and maybe further afield. 

The lesson here is that there is often a post-acquisition void, I certainly experienced one. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, or, worse, I thought I knew what I wanted to do only to realise when I thought more carefully about it that it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in. The key was taking that time to think, look at all the opportunities people were presenting me with and to select the ones I felt most passionate about. 

The acquisition of Cake gave me the freedom to truly choose what I wanted to do. Now, I’m in a really privileged position where I can spend the next 25+ years of my life working on projects that do good. I can spend my time helping other people build companies, but also build companies myself with other people running them, and through all of this I can make a positive difference to people’s lives, the country and ultimately the world. 

My ultimate aim is a moonshot; I want to do something that fundamentally helps millions and millions of people. I don’t know what that is yet, but I know I’ll be ready when it comes along. My short to medium-term vision is acting as an investor, advisor and founder of multiple businesses, but my long-term vision is to make a difference to a billion people. I know that at some point I’ll come across the opportunity that will enable me to do that and when that happens, that will become my focus. 

What’s helped me out of the post-acquisition void is having meaning to what I want to do in the short to medium-term, as well as that overarching long-term vision. I’ve turned that void into a really happy place and I’m excited to keep going on my entrepreneurial journey and see what I can achieve. 


The Acquisition Rollercoaster

In 2017, Cake Solutions, the company I co-founded, was acquired by a large American organisation. In this blog, I’m going to tell you about my experience of the acquisition, and share what I learned from the process.

Cake’s acquisition

Firstly, when we were approached about selling Cake, we weren’t actually looking to sell the business. In fact, we’d just written a three-year growth plan. So for me, the first part of the rollercoaster was the pleasant surprise that someone was interested enough in Cake to make an approach. Initially they approached us about investment, and that very quickly turned into an offer for the business. 

This wasn’t the first time we’d been approached about selling the business. Others had made enquiries in the past but I didn’t feel that they were serious. This was our first serious, credible offer. And when we were made the offer, it was hugely flattering. It was a good, fair offer, without any negotiating. As I said, we weren’t looking to sell at that particular juncture. In fact, we were looking to grow. But we could see that the company that wanted to buy Cake was an entrepreneurial organisation, despite being a lot bigger than us, and it was a very technical organisation. As a board of directors, we felt that it was as good a fit as we were ever going to find. 

Once we accepted the offer, we moved into the due diligence phase. At this stage, I became very pragmatic about the acquisition. I wasn’t indifferent, but I felt that if it didn’t work out it wasn’t the end of the world because we had a plan and knew that the business would continue to be successful and grow. We were confident another opportunity would come along in the future if this one fell through. 

I wasn’t worried about the due diligence either, because I felt that we were a very clean company and that this stage wouldn’t throw up anything unexpected. In the five years prior to the acquisition, we’d become increasingly professional in the way we conducted board meetings, ran the finances and so on. As a business, we were stable and had the ability to continually find sales, which meant we would continue to expand. In some cases, we’d had to turn sales away or refer them to our competitors, who we had good relationships with. 

The closer we got towards closing the deal, the more I started to look to the future. At this stage, I was confident that the company acquiring Cake would continue the work we were doing, respect the team and try to work in a fair way and retain a lot of the cultural elements that led to our success. As a result, I started to think about the possibilities and what I could do once the deal went through. It wasn’t about the money. Of course money is important in that it gives you and your family security, and allows you to do nice things, but what was more important to me was the freedom it would bring to decide what I wanted to do. 

For some people that might mean going abroad and sitting on a beach with a cocktail. But that’s not who I am. I was thinking about having the freedom to do some really exciting stuff moving forward. I think most successful entrepreneurs have a similar mindset. They don’t go into business aiming for a successful exit, they want to continue to add value. And if they continue to add value in whatever they do, they will continue to generate more success because they have that mindset and ability to succeed. This was what I wanted to do; to carry on with some personal projects but also to help other companies achieve their goals. 

Towards the end of the due diligence I began to fear the deal not going through. I had started thinking about the future, what I could do and the impact I could have. I wasn’t expecting to place so much importance on the deal going through and that caught me by surprise. It made the final stages a very long couple of months. 

Selling to the right company

One of the most important criteria for me was that we didn’t just sell to any company, but that we sold to the right company. That meant that they would, as much as humanly possible, continue operating the way we did. Cake operated quite differently to most corporates, even though by this time we had been in business for 17 years and had around 70 people working for us. Throughout our journey, we remained very entrepreneurial and agile. So it was really important to find a company that shared those values. 

We didn’t want to become one of these stories of a small organisation that’s doing amazing things being swallowed up by a big corporate entity, only for the acquisition to kill the culture and ethos of that small company, and for the big corporate to lose what they actually bought in the first place. I didn’t want that to happen to Cake and I’m happy to say, several years down the line, that I don’t believe that has happened. 

One of my other concerns was for the people who worked for Cake. I’d worked with some of them for 17 years. They weren’t just colleagues, they were also friends. But the culture at Cake was one of the reasons why they’d stayed with us. I have to say that I think the acquisition worked out well on this front, because although there was a little bit of churn, it wasn’t substantial. The company that acquired Cake and the remaining Cake management team has done a really good job of retaining a lot of the cultural points that made Cake really appealing to people in the first place.

Of course there have been changes, because there will always be more processes and company politics in a bigger company. Decision making changes as well, because there are layers of people who make decisions as opposed to very quick entrepreneurial-type decisions being made. That said, we were bought by a very successful and, in my opinion, really good partner.

Why it’s so important to have cultural alignment

At Cake we built a cultural platform that enabled sustained and achievable high growth. We definitely didn’t have this cultural platform from the get go, because in the early days I was learning and, if I’m totally honest, we were flying by the seat of our pants. We were working with big organisations and on fairly substantial government projects when there were just seven or eight of us. But the reason we could do that was because of the people. 

As we developed as a company, and as individuals within the company developed, the culture developed. When we saw things that worked, we nurtured them. As a result, we developed a fairly unique culture within our organisation and that was recognised by the partners that we worked with, but also the people that we employed. For instance, we didn’t need to use recruiters because  people were interested in what we were doing and we were very good at talking about what we did. This formed a large part of our culture. We wanted to be seen as experts in our field, to engage in the community and to help other people achieve what they wanted to in our area of expertise. 

That meant we wrote blogs, attended conferences with supporting companies by sponsoring them, and sent speakers to conferences that we didn’t sponsor. In the end, conference organisers used to contact Cake and ask us to speak because our people became that synonymous with the technologies that we specialised in. That was all part of the culture, and I’ll talk about company culture in more detail in a future blog. 

But when it comes to an acquisition, finding cultural alignment is really important. At Cake that not only encompassed the culture, ethos and outlook of the business, but also technical alignment. This was particularly important because everyone in our team joined Cake because they were passionate about a set of technologies. You don’t want to put your team in the position where they have to fully retrain with new technology that they’re not familiar with. It’s important to recognise that Cake wasn’t fortunate to develop the culture and team that we did, it was by design. 

That was why it was so important for us to see that the company acquiring us shared our excitement about that technology and wanted to continue to work in that area. 

Keep one eye on the bigger picture

I mentioned earlier that towards the end of the process I became more concerned about the deal not going through. What I didn’t realise at the time was that there was a lot of other stuff going on with the organisation that was acquiring Cake. It was all good, but there were a couple of other potential acquisitions happening at the same time which slowed things up.

Not only that, but they were still growing and had experienced huge growth over that period, far in excess of Cake. They’d been really successful and become synonymous with video streaming, so there was a lot going on in their world. It’s important to remember that the acquisition might be the most important thing in your world, but it’s not necessarily the most important thing in their world. You have to keep one eye on the bigger picture as far as possible. 

You also have to remember that you never know what’s going to happen in the world. Take what’s going on at the moment, where we have Coronavirus to cope with. Different companies react in different ways. Some are very pragmatic and make changes that are necessary but carry on as much as possible with business as normal, or even use it as an opportunity to expand. Whereas the natural reaction in other companies is to shut up shop and not invest. You can never know how world events are going to affect you. Companies going through an acquisition at the moment must be fearing that the Coronavirus situation could be a factor that affects the deal. 

How to work towards a successful acquisition

Firstly, it’s really important that you run a clean company. What I mean by this is that you don’t have any skeletons in the closet, you don’t try and hide things, and you always try and do things properly. If you do that, there’s less chance of a deal falling through and that should give you some comfort because you know you’ve done everything you can to put your company in the best position for a successful acquisition.

Secondly, you need to know that you don’t have to accept the first offer that comes along. Like I said earlier, Cake had been approached in the past by a few other companies with enquiries, all-be-it tentative and not at the right level. We were even approached by a company during the acquisition that wanted to make a competing offer. We turned their offer down because we felt that we’d found the right company to acquire us, even though we had the potential to make more money by accepting a different offer. But this just goes to illustrate that it wasn’t just about the money. It was about choosing the company carefully, which ties back into company culture and whether the company acquiring you is going to behave in the right way to continue the success of your organisation. 

Preparation is key

The main thing is to get all your ducks lined up before the lawyers come in. There will be an awful lot of people looking at all the different aspects of the business, from tax and finance to HR and the people within the business. You have to make sure that you have a well-run organisation. 

This isn’t a quick fix. You need to do this in the years before an acquisition and many of the steps you can take are just examples of good practice. For example, as you develop and mature as a company you need to put processes and people in place to ensure that board meetings happen every month, that agendas are produced and that the minutes of those meetings are recorded.  You need to make sure that the weekly cash flow is updated and that there are management accounts produced every month so that you know exactly where you’re up to. 

There should also be a process for running your business and you should run your business in a modern and efficient way. That might mean using software as a service as opposed to having an old mainframe, for instance. If you have overseas workers, you need to ensure that all of the paperwork is correct and up to date. These are all examples of good business practices that you should strive to achieve whether you’re aiming to be acquired or not. 

Acquisition is only one option

You don’t have to run your business with a view to being acquired in the future. I think most people go into business because they want to provide security for themselves and their family, and that’s a really nice outcome. But remember that there are different ways of doing that. You can build a successful company, generate lots of profit and turnover and create a really nice lifestyle over a number of years by making the money that you need – it doesn’t have to be huge sums. It will vary between different people. You might build a lifestyle company and, you never know, that might be your legacy to your children, to leave them a family business that they can take over from you when they become adults.

Equally, if your aim is to build a business to a point to sell it, then fantastic. But it’s important to remember that most people’s skill sets don’t allow them to take a company from zero to a billion-pound organisation. The reality is that many entrepreneurs don’t want to build a company with hundreds upon hundreds of employees. 

You should also remember that there are different levels of exits. You might build a company as I did to 70 people, or you might build it to 30 people if it’s a very specialist company. Look at a company like Instagram, which had very few employees before it was sold. Then there are the organisations that have 1,000 employees when they sell. It all depends on the entrepreneur and how far they want to take it. 

As an entrepreneur, you should explore how you can carry on doing the things that you really want to do, such as focusing on the innovation and entrepreneurial side of the business. To do that, you might bring in a CEO to run the business to allow you to work within your unique ability. In that way, you can potentially build a business that you own a large share of far further than your skill set allows, because you’ve introduced the right people around you to do the things that you don’t want to do and aren’t as good at so that you can concentrate on what you are good at. 


Introduction Blog

Introduction To This Blog

I’d like to start by introducing myself officially: my name is Guy Remond, and I’m passionate about innovation, entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses. 

Where I’ve come from

I’m the former CEO of a company called Cake Solutions, which is based in Manchester with operations in London and New York. In 2017, Cake was acquired by a large American video streaming organisation. 

I continued to work with them for two years following the acquisition. It was a great company to work for, but during that time I realised that the corporate world isn’t one that I thrive in. I love being in entrepreneurial environments.  That was when I left the corporate world behind to give myself time to think about what I wanted to do next and how I wanted to spend the next 10 to 15 years of my life.

At this stage, I was already a co-founder of another company – – which was spun out of Cake Solutions but wasn’t part of the acquisition. works with tech product startups in the north-west of England, particularly Manchester. We help young entrepreneurs who have a tech startup product idea in whatever way they need. That might mean we help them engineer their product if that’s what they need help with. But we also offer other services, such as a financial data directory service, CTO as a service, business strategy as a service, and even investment strategy as a service. 

The whole idea behind is to help entrepreneurs where they have gaps in their knowledge, and where they need a little bit more support, but primarily, we help them build a tech product. In exchange for our support, we take some cash, and we also take a small amount of equity in that company. We’ll work with them until they’ve got a minimum viable product (MVP). That could be a 1.0 version of that piece of software, for example. 

So, I was already involved with this existing company that was born out of Cake Solutions, where I work as a non-exec investor and a co-founder. 

In fact, everything that I’m involved in now has been made possible by my time with Cake Solutions.

Choosing my new direction

One of the things that I realised was that I didn’t just want to work for one company. Although I had a few ideas about setting up a new company, I didn’t want to jump straight back into it. I wanted to work with different people and different companies, in different capacities. I might be a co-founder of some, the owner of others and an investor or advisor in others. 

This is the point I’m at now. I work with a number of companies that are generally looking for high growth, because that’s something that we did reasonably well at Cake and something I feel I can help most companies with. Not all of them are tech product companies, some are in finance and marketing, for example. I’m now spending my time working as a board advisor for a few hours a week on each of those companies, which still leaves me with some time. That’s allowing me to work on two other projects at the moment, one of which is a technical product and the other of which is focusing on funding for high-growth companies. Neither of which I can talk a lot about at the moment, but watch this space! 

One of the reasons why working with multiple companies appeals to me is that it allows me to tackle a lot of different issues and take on new challenges I haven’t dealt with before. It means I learn more and, in all honesty, it gives me a degree of flexibility with my life as well. 

I’m not committed to spending every single day in an office, or even working remotely. I can be a lot more flexible and decide how to spend my time and schedule things around my life. This allows me to have more freedom, which is really important. I’ll talk more about that freedom in a future blog, but essentially I’m using it not only for business, but also for my personal life. This change in direction is giving me time to spend with my family. If you’re not careful, you can neglect the personal side of your life when you go all in on one company. As the leader, you have a responsibility and a commitment to the company and in particular the people that work for that company. Whereas if I’m working with a number of companies, that responsibility doesn’t fall solely on my shoulders. 

Instead, I’m helping each company’s leadership team, and the entrepreneur in particular, to build their company. It feels like a noble pursuit, but equally one that can potentially be very rewarding as well. In all the companies I work with, I’m the co-owner, an investor or a founder, but it’s important to point out that this isn’t about money. It’s about achieving and I want to carry on achieving in my life. 

What to expect from this blog

I want my blog to be a space where I can share my personal experience. My blogs will come in different forms – there will be opinion blogs, advice blogs and the occasional ad-hoc blog about current events. One thing they’ll all have in common is that they’ll be based on my personal experiences, both good and bad. 

I know this won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I hope that I can help other entrepreneurs as they navigate their journey. I’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt, and hopefully some of what you read on my blog will help you to avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past. 

I’ve spent much of the last 30 years working in the technical world, and even though I’m not an engineer (my brain isn’t wired that way), I’m definitely a geek. My focus, therefore, hasn’t been on the engineering side, but on the commercial side of this technical world. I’ve spent 20 years running my own business. I’ve been in private practice, running another business as a general manager rather than the owner. Much of the experience I’ve gained is transferable across sectors.  

As a result my blogs won’t be particularly focused on the technical world, instead they will focus on my experience in running commercial entities. Hopefully this will allow me to help more companies and entrepreneurs, rather than just those in the technical world.

If you’re wondering why I’ve chosen a blog to do this, as opposed to another format, the reason is simple and comes from my time with Cake Solutions. One of the things we did successfully at Cake was to encourage the team there to build their own personal brands. It’s something I believe is really important, and I’ll be writing a future blog around building personal branding and how that can define a marketing strategy. 

Why is building a personal brand so important? Put simply, people who build their personal brand also build the brand of the company that they’re working with by association. It’s a practice that I’ve long been an advocate of and I want to practice what I preach. I’m intending to build my personal brand now not only to help other people, but also to help the companies that I’m working with.

I’m already getting a huge amount of exposure in the startup world through my involvement with Some of what I cover in these blogs will be startup based, taking examples not only from when I started my company, but also from the other companies I’ve worked with. 

This knowledge can help you, as an entrepreneur, avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way and help you move into the high-growth phase of your business more quickly. At Cake, we went through a five to six year period where we grew pretty much every parameter in the business by ten times, or in some cases considerably more. That’s given me a lot of experience of taking a company through a high-growth period, from how you finance it and how you achieve the extra sales, to how you build a team around you that supplements your unique ability and allows you to focus on the stuff that you’re really good at to drive the business forward. 

My blog will help businesses both in the startup stage and the high-growth stage. I’ll also be talking about acquisitions, and sharing what I learned from Cake’s acquisition. Having been through an acquisition, I can tell you it’s an emotional rollercoaster. This is a topic I’ll cover in more detail in a future blog, but the point is my blog can help you whatever stage you’re at in your entrepreneurial journey, whether you’re just starting out with little more than an idea and a lot of enthusiasm, or are coming to the end of your journey with a particular business. 

How do you find the time?

One of the big barriers people have to writing blogs is making the time to put pen to paper, so to speak. I’m involved in a number of projects and, if I’m completely honest, if it was left solely to me then I wouldn’t get round to producing blogs on a regular basis. 

But that’s why I’m working with Write Business Results. They’re helping me produce my blogs and it’s a service I find very useful, because it allows me to focus my time on actually building these various businesses and helping other entrepreneurs. This isn’t the first time I’ve used Write Business Results either. They have previously ghost written a book for me and are in the process of writing a second book for me, as well as a book for one of the companies I’ve set up. 

The point is that they focus on what they’re really good at, which is content generation, whether it be long books, short books, or blogs. As I said earlier, I like to practice what I preach, but it’s also okay to get help in areas that you either lack the expertise or the time to focus on fully. 

So, back to my blog. Everything you read here is based on my personal experience. It isn’t theory; it’s the things I’ve seen, done and experienced on my entrepreneurial journey. It will cover the good, the bad and the ugly of owning and running a business. I’ll talk about the full lifecycle of a company, from coming up with an idea to finally letting your baby go out into the world. Owning and running a business can be an emotional journey and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with you.

startup new business project with rocket image flat design

Want to be a tech entrepreneur? Why now could be a fantastic time to start that company

This is a special blog; a here and now for the current situation that we find ourselves in due to COVID-19. I’m a positive person by nature. Consequently, I always look for the opportunity in bad situations. I search for the reasons to do things rather than the reasons not to do things. I understand that this approach won’t be for everybody. But my feeling is that if you’re building a product, now’s the time to build it or design it, and that is what I’ll focus on in this article.

I want you to think of now as a good time to be launching a startup; doing all the groundwork and building a presence and voice in the marketplace and your community. Doing so means that when all this ends or the situation with COVID-19 improves, you’re ready to launch your idea. 

Many businesses are not able to do what they normally do at the moment. There will be some entrepreneurs out there who were thinking of establishing a startup and are now having second thoughts or putting the idea on hold until the situation changes. But I really want you to think about whether that’s the best course of action.

Could this be a golden opportunity to develop your product or service, get it tested by people you know and those in the industry, and lay the foundations for the start of your next venture? 

startup new business project with rocket image flat design

Why now?

At, we’re talking to a number of entrepreneurs in the north-west, particularly Manchester, at the moment and we’ve noticed a very mixed reaction to the situation with COVID-19. Some people have made the decision to stop their plans and re-engage with us once the situation changes.

Then there are others who see this as an opportunity, and I’m inclined to agree with them. Here are the main reasons why I believe now is a good time to prepare your startup idea.

Abundant resources

There is an abundance of resources at the moment. There are people crying out for work and if you’re looking for people to work with you’ll get their full attention. You’ll be helping people who might be struggling for work at the moment, particularly those who are self-employed or have a small company.

Willing testers

As well as finding an abundance of people who could help you with your idea, you’ve also got an abundance of testers available. There are probably a number of people in your network who are willing to spend some time testing your idea. 

Obviously, everything has to be done remotely, but that’s fine because everything can be done remotely these days. 

Again, I’d argue that this could be the best time to properly get people’s attention. They might not have a lot to do while they’re waiting for the situation with this virus to evolve. Catch them now, before they’re focusing on getting their own company back up and running once this peters out. 

Take advantage of having these people available, who can test and chat about your idea. 

Time to lay the foundations of your business

If you take this time to build your product and test it the best you can with the people that you know, you can hit the ground running. There’s no reason why you can’t grab the market share of whatever it is you’re trying to do really quickly. You may even take some of that market share away from other companies that are slower to do this, or the other entrepreneurs who have decided to put their idea on ice. I also believe that if you lay these foundations now, you’ll be in a much better position to hit high growth quickly. 

Time to build your personal brand

You have plenty of time at the moment to begin to build your personal brand. I’m a massive believer in this modern way of marketing. The days of leaflets, adverts and magazines have gone and you have to look at new ways to do things.

That means finding new ways of sharing content online, sharing expertise and having a voice in the community for the market you’re working in. When you do this well, it gives you real credibility and because it gives you credibility as a person, by default, it also gives your company credibility. 

If you have other people working with you, they should be doing exactly the same thing. That means writing blogs, maybe filming vlogs and doing online webinars to create a noise in the marketplace when everything’s probably a little bit quieter than normal. 

Whether it’s your personal brand or your team’s, this will give you some momentum when things improve. 

Build momentum for your business

If you get your product ready and test it, you can get feedback from focus groups and implement that into your idea further. If you’ve done the groundwork in terms of beginning to make a noise in the community and market that you want to build your company in, you’ll build momentum that you can capitalise on when the situation starts to improve.

I think it’s perfect timing for all of these elements to come together. Don’t forget that people have more time to read at the moment. They’re looking for things to do; after all, there’s only so much Netflix they can watch. Now is the time for you to give them something interesting to read. They will be grateful for it and you will have cemented both your personal brand and your company’s brand.

The aim is to put your company at the forefront of their mind when they are ready to use your services. That’s what this marketing is all about. The great thing is that you’re not shelling out money to do this. You’re just taking the time to do it. You could argue that although it doesn’t cost you money, it costs you time, but time is probably something that a lot of people are going to have an abundance of over the next few months.

Where to find support

If you’re reading this and feel that this could be a great time to prepare your startup idea, lay the foundations for your business, build your product or design your service, start your marketing and be heard in the marketplace and your community so that you can hit the ground running when this is all over, you’ll find plenty of support.

My role at, along with the rest of the team, is to help tech product startups in the north-west to build their tech product. We also provide support with other business services. 

We have a very experienced team, both technically and commercially, all of whom have been there, done that and got the T-shirt. We can help you build a simple tool all the way through to highly complex products. We can also help with business strategy and finance as a service (both from a personal point of view as an entrepreneur using our network and also from the perspective of a part-time financial director). I believe that the startups that have those financial disciplines and strategies in place are more likely to succeed than the ones that don’t, which is why finding this support is important.

We also provide CTO as a service and can support startups to fill all kinds of voids in their skillset. But our primary purpose is to help entrepreneurs build their tech products. We do this on a part equity, part cash basis, which substantially reduces the cost and shares the risk in the venture. 

A fresh perspective

If you’re still not convinced, maybe an analogy will help you to see how you could make the best of this situation.

I have a friend who works in the construction trade, primarily on huge projects. He’s waiting to hear whether he can carry on doing this, as the government guidelines aren’t quite clear at the moment. But he’s already decided what he’ll do if he can’t keep working for the foreseeable future: he’s going to build an extension for his home.

He’s already been to the builder’s merchants and ordered all the materials he’ll need to build this extension while he’s off work. He’s seizing the moment to do something and have something at the end of this. He’s realised that he’s got the time to do this and building the extension for his house, that will improve his family’s way of living and increase the value of his property, is a really effective use of his time if he can’t work.