Reflection: The First Year As a Startup

We are now officially one year in to running our own consultancy - and what a year it’s been! In fact, it’s more than a year, but we’ve been so busy, we haven’t had the opportunity to reflect, until now.

When we’re working with a client, we give it everything, which means that focusing on our own business development, inevitably takes a back seat. Difficult to reconcile, when we know that marketing is such an important part of keeping a business alive. But here we are.

So much has happened in the past year. On 4th January 2018, I called Beth to announce it’s time for us to pursue our dream of becoming consultants - something we had discussed for many years but there was always a reason why the timing wasn’t right. This time however, there was nothing holding us back. And on Saturday the 6th of January, we started sketching out our value proposition to the market.

That day, as we were working, I received a call to say my Dad was back in hospital, abruptly halting our work. Three days later, my father sadly passed away and everything collapsed around me. How could I pursue my dream without my Dad there to support me? And how could I possibly see it through without my number one supporter?

At the funeral, Beth reminded me that we “have got this”. That nothing was going to hold us back and that we were going to make my Dad proud. Two days later we were back at it. And a week later we had signed our first contract. Some of our friends had warned us that starting a business as friends could end in disaster, but it’s at times like this, you realise that being in business with someone who has your back, gives you the best motivation - and so far, it has seen us in very good stead, when one of us has needed that extra bit of support.

Since then, we have been on an adventure, delivering many contracts, of differing sizes. Some have been purely strategic, which I have worked on solo and some have been purely marketing, which Beth has delivered, in her role as a Chief Marketing Officer. But the best contracts are those that we work on together, where we can give each other support and challenge each other’s thinking throughout the process.

We have covered a variety of industries, including an international estate agent, two data science companies, two apps, a health and well-being company, and three proptechs. We have created go-to-market strategies, product strategies, re-positioning strategies, marketing strategies and brand strategies. We have also created and delivered marketing and communications plans.

We have delivered workshops for the startup cohort at Geovation to help them build their Go-to-Market strategy and brand identity. We have delivered workshops for Propertymark, aiding established professionals within the property industry to create their differentiator to stand out in the noise, and later this month, we’re looking forward to facilitating a workshop for startups within an investment platform.

Starting up a business is undeniably far more challenging and equally rewarding than either of us had anticipated. It has been a roller-coaster, and we have both experienced ‘impostor syndrome’ along the way - not at the same time as each other, luckily, so we have always been able to remind each other that we’re doing great work, with very positive feedback.

The reality of living by the coast and working in London has given us an amazing opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds, for us and our families.

The last year has taught us so much and our experience means we can relate to the challenges that startups face; namely trying to do everything for the business and the inevitable pressures that come with this.

What are our key leanings?

  • Stay true to your core values and capability, whilst being flexible to ensure the customers’ needs are always met and exceeded on
  • Focus on your marketing to maintain awareness and gain engagement and action (something we still need to get better at!)
  • Set objectives, measure results and remain accountable
  • Never take anything for granted
  • Laugh a lot - and if it’s been a while since you laughed, then dance or box (this has worked for us on many occasions!)

What was our highlight of the year?

There have been so many but the best times are when we’re engrossed in a project and see all of the research turning into the ‘answers’.

What’s next?

Roll on year two! We’ll soon have a party to thank our supporters and clients for the past year - but we need to find time to plan it first...

In the meantime, don’t forget Tidal Marketing is here to support with both the creation and delivery of marketing strategies. Whether you are looking to launch, grow or diversify we can definitely support you.

The photo on this blog was taken by a fantastic local photographer, Tom Ormerod and is of Hengistbury Head - somewhere close to Team-Tidal’s heart.

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Tidal Marketing joined us when we were looking to grow our marketing and build our brand. With an existing, deep knowledge of the property market they were able to quickly add value and did a fantastic job of putting the foundations of our brand and marketing strategies in place.

Jon Notley, Co-Founder & CEO, Zero Deposit

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