After a flurry of bank holidays, and with the next one not until August, it seems like a good time to reflect on the progress I have made since I wrote my first piece for Haggerston Times back in January, before re-entering the fray feeling re-invigorated, and ready to make a difference.
Back then I was writing geo-political stuff, comedy, bits and pieces on all sorts of topics, but somewhat ironically, I am still waiting on the opportunity that gave me the focus I needed, and led me to the path I am now on. The Eureka moment, you might call it, was an opportunity to write for a prestigious online publication (I’m not saying any more), and being asked to focus on a specific subject from a list of categories. Suddenly everything became clear. Tech and Investment. Well, ok and media too. I love the media.
I am lucky to be based in an area, Haggerston, where the Tech, Media and Investment communities are strongly represented locally, and given my background as an investment analyst who has also worked for some top media outlets, with a long-time interest in PR and journalism, the decision to go into freelancing really was a no-brainer.
When I first started going to events I was a little apprehensive, but the research I have done, compiling data on over 1,000 companies based in or relating to Tech City, helped me to quickly find my feet. Attending events and writing about the people I meet, and the discussions being had, is a great way to meet potential clients and understand their businesses; what they are looking to achieve, and what they need to do to accomplish their goals. Back in January I had never heard of meetup.com, now I have attended over 20 of their events, and spoken to literally hundreds of businesses.
It is amazing how quickly you begin to see familiar faces at different meet-ups, and this has led to opportunities to profile companies directly; spending time with founders, getting to know them personally, and producing copy which I am proud of and has, to the best of my knowledge, been well received by them and more importantly, by a wider audience.
My readership has grown quickly, and I hope and expect that it will continue to do so, as more people discover that Haggerston Times is a resource where investors can read about promising companies, and vice versa, and with the potential to offer a great deal more. At the same time I have launched my Company website, www.haggerstonmediatech.co.uk, creating an offering that leverages both the knowledge I have gained, my contacts in the industry, and my copywriting skills.
I am fortunate in that I have one or two other business interests that have sustained me financially for the past few months whilst I get “all my ducks in a row”, but I anticipate that this next period to August will see me face a new challenge. Monetising the blog and the business.
Many people reading this might be asking why I have not addressed this issue before. It’s all very well creating interesting copy, they will argue, but what is the point if you aren’t seeing a financial return? To these people I would say simply it is about doing your market research first, understanding what your potential clients are looking for that they do not already have, and tailoring your offering to meet that need.
If I had wanted to become a lawyer, for example, I would be looking at a law conversion course at a potential cost of tens of thousands of pounds, and thousands of hours of study, before I could even think about calling myself a professional. It was important to me to show the Tech and Media industries the same level of respect. Many of my potential clients will be keeping an extra tight grip on their purse strings as they struggle with a similar problem, lack of experience and an unclear route to market, and I’ve no wish to hoodwink and finagle my customers out of their hard-earned cash.
But now that I have created an introductory offer that I am pleased with, which I believe offers value for money, a platform to build upon, and a tangible and financially measurable benefit, it is time to start pitching for business. I am delighted to have covered and profiled some of the best and brightest companies and events around; Bootlaw at Pinsent Mason (where I will be tonight), Henry Chuks’ start-up accelerator, the Big Data debates, plus companies including Playfair Capital, Find Invest Grow, Backbone Media, Research Axis and many others besides. I now know what I’m all about, how I can help, and I have the resources I need to deliver my service proposition.
So, with the help of a small grant from the New Enterprise Scheme at Avanta, a business plan that makes sense financially and intellectually, and a relentlessly positive and optimistic outlook, what will be the key milestones I will be looking to achieve over the coming months?
Well I hope so far I have painted an accurate picture of what it is like to be launching a start-up, at a time when entrepreneurial activities are in the spotlight like never before, and what it is like to be trying to invest in said start-ups on behalf of oneself and ones clients, and of course I want to continue to do so. Going forward, however, I want to start working more closely with clients and in a more targeted way. Funding rounds, business development, marketing strategies, and monetisation are all areas where I think I can help. However exciting, however unique or game changing your proposition, launching a start-up will always involve a frustrating amount of hoop-jumping, flesh pressing, presenting, and shouting your name from the roof-tops. I am definitely on board for this.
Larger scale projects, repeat business and a more robust social media presence are all areas where I can grow my services, and I am excited about the introductory services I can provide to entrepreneurs, letting them focus on what they do best, creating successful, and useful, companies.
So after a weekend spent walking and cycling in the Welsh valleys, in preparation for a charity event climbing Ben Nevis in early June, and eating great food in excellent Company, I am healthy, happy, raring to go, and have enough leads to keep me busy for weeks, if not months, and hopefully, years. And I am sure you do too, reader. The hard work starts now.