November 9, 2016, by The Ingenuity Lab
Joined Up Writing: Building a successful business
During Ingenuity17, a range of successful business men and women based in Nottingham and further afield will be mentoring The University of Nottingham’s budding entrepreneurs. Their guidance and advice will be incredibly useful for the students and alumni competing for the £100,000 prize fund.
As applications for the competition are now open, we thought we’d begin the BIG reveal of who will be mentoring competition entrants in the upcoming competition!
Having founded two successful businesses in the past ten years, Ingenuity17 mentor Rachael Lamb is currently working on her third project that helps students with academic writing. She is also a Doctoral Researcher and Teaching Assistant (Innovation and Entrepreneurship) at The Haydn Green Institute, so she’s part of the family!
Let’s find out what suggestions Rachael has for new entrepreneurs….
Joined Up Writing
Owner and Managing Director
What is your educational background?
I graduated from the University of Leicester in 1994 with Honours in Archaeology. I completed my MBA at Nottingham University Business School in 2003 and I’m currently studying for my Ph.D.
How did you originally get involved with The Ingenuity Lab?
I first became involved with The Ingenuity Lab in 2013, when I took part in a workshop for University of Nottingham Alumna. This is now the third year that I’ve been a mentor and I enjoy seeing students gaining confidence as their business ideas develop.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone interested in setting up their own businesses?
Make sure that your business idea solves a genuine problem and then set about learning everything you can about how that problem affects your potential customers. That way you will develop a product or service that people actually want to buy and use.
Offer exceptional customer service and strive to improve your product or service continuously based on customer feedback. A reputation for high quality will always serve you well.
What do you think are the key challenges that new entrepreneurs will face when setting up a business?
Identifying who your customers are and how to reach them. If your customer is ‘everyone’ then you have too broad a proposition and you’ll find it hard to create a product or service that really meets their needs. It’s better to focus on a specific niche or segment of customers and produce a really targeted offer.
Getting solid financial and legal guidance. If it’s not your area of expertise, then find someone to advise you. A good accountant and legal advisor will save you far more than you pay them over time.
What work are you currently involved in?
At Joined Up Writing I train students how to improve their study skills and in particular, their academic writing. I provide free resources to people on my mailing list; you can sign up on my website.
My current work combines the experience I gained in two other successful businesses I’ve founded in the past ten years: a consultancy providing communication and copywriting expertise and a company offering face-to-face training to large organisations.
I am also currently running a short survey on essay writing, please visit http://bit.ly/essaysurveyFB1 to take part.
If you started your business(es) today what would you do differently?
I’d be less worried about the competition! I’ve come to learn that having competitors means there is an established market for your product or service and that if you differentiate yourself by offering exceptional value and customer service then the competition becomes less relevant.
Thank you, Rachael, for sharing an insight into how a successful business can be built. We look forward to having you on board as a mentor for Ingenuity17!