Matt Green, Director of event consultancy GMG Network, details a week in the life of a start up.
It all begins with a coffee. A chat. An idea. At last, I decide I’m ready for the ultimate challenge – starting my own business, an event consultancy, in an industry I know and love. I sound it out. People really take to the idea. A piece of cake – to go with my flat white.
In reality, the process has reminded me of being a contestant on the crystal maze; entering into a highly ambitious, high-risk zone searching for time crystals.
First there is the ‘simple’ task of choosing and registering a name. I’m pretty creative, so thinking of a quirky name isn’t too tricky. Agreeing on one with my fellow partners, say no more. We log on to Companies House. Every name on the list is taken; clearly I’m not the only creative bod on the block. Back to the drawing board, which literally becomes a board of drawings as we move on to logo design.
Starting your own business will always cost you more money than you imagined. But obtaining insurance in the event industry…I’m lumped in with the circus, pyrotechnics and fast cars. At the end of the day, I specialise in corporate events, we’re not talking high risk. I decide that if I’m going to have to pay, I may as well branch out. I’ve always fancied running an event with a few lions and tigers and bears.
Months, weeks of build up. Late nights, numerous glasses of red wine, talking, talking and more talking. Having spent 15 years employed by others, launch day for GMG Network, my very own event consultancy, has finally arrived. When asked by friends and family in the weeks running up to the big day, to describe what I would be doing on that first day, it was very hard to imagine. Day One is all about our website and the power of social media, creating a buzz and a vibe, spreading the word, inviting the world to take a look at our offering.
Working from home seemed so appealing. The dream: a leisurely stroll with my whippet through the woods, followed by Italian coffee, check a few emails, make a few calls. The reality: four adults crammed round my dining room table with sore backs from trendy vintage Victorian chairs; the portafilter of my gaggia falling onto a coffee cup which shatters, accompanied by ground coffee, across my entire kitchen; my whippet nosing through every bag, cable and pile of papers she can find! I miss the office already.
Surely one should market oneself with a quirky idea, to stand out from the crowd. I’ve never conformed so have grand plans for the GMG business card. I’m pretty pleased with the design and I’m looking for something to complement our custom designed logo. Question: How did people start businesses before Google? Response: I don’t know. It’s become my new best friend.
Question: How difficult can it be to find a printing firm who make square business cards with curved edges for a fairly reasonable price? Response: Impossible. Google is now my worst enemy having wasted two hours of my time.
Question (with a hint of incredulity): Could it really cost £28.00 to ship 1000 business cards? All in all it’s been a positive day. First tender document in. First job confirmed!
First day in London town. I cram as many meetings as I can into one day (mainly to maximise my Oyster card). Suddenly it feels very different to be selling my wares. I’m comfortable meeting people, talking to people and after all, this is my concept and I believe in what I’m selling. But the heat is well and truly on; the sales forecasts lingering like mist over the Thames. As I stride across Westminster Bridge (being 6”4, I stride everywhere) I wonder how I will justify blowing half of our entertaining budget on Day Four to the Financial Controller, the Financial Controller being my wife.
Mobile phone provider hell finally reaches a head. There was the research. There were the conversations. We had the phones, the iPads and the sim cards. It all seemed so easy. How could we have reached the end of week one with only one working mobile phone and no landline? Surprisingly, this hiccup left me in high spirits; there was a lesson to be learned.
To be frank, if the business team of a worldwide, multi-billion pound organisation conducts itself without a jot of professionalism, integrity, knowledge or attention to detail, then our intent is spot on.
Any comments? Email Paul Colston