10 Lessons Learned after 10 years in business

We are celebrating our 10th anniversary this month and wanted to share some lessons learned along the way!

Lessons Learned

Remarkably, 660,000 new companies are registered in the UK every year. That’s the equivalent to 70 new businesses being formed every hour.  60% of those new businesses will stop trading within three years, and 20% will close their doors within just 12 months. We therefore feel it’s a real achievement to reach our 10th birthday and here are top 10 tips.

1.The people you work with are the most important thing

Our first point has to be to thank everybody who has helped us along the way.  From the amazing clients we work with to our fabulous support team, we couldn’t have survived 10 years in business without you all. It’s also worth mentioning the relationship between us. Although we’ve been friends for 30 years it’s our identical work ethic which has really made One To Three work. We feel very lucky to have each other and we’re in touch on a daily basis, whether it’s discussing the latest enquiry, how we’re working on a project together or running ideas past each other.  We honestly don’t think One To Three would work without each other.

2. You won’t win every project and that’s ok

The memory of our first ever prospective client meeting still makes us chuckle! We arrived in Windsor, heels and lippy on, PowerPoint presentation at the ready on a HUGE lap top (we weren’t earning enough for swish Macbooks then!), business cards, handouts – you name it. Thinking back to this meeting we’ve said to each other we can’t even really remember what the prospect was after! We bombarded him with our scripted PowerPoint,  told him everything we’d ever done in the field of marketing and came away with ….unsurprsingly….nothing!

No experience is wasted though and never again did we turn up to a meeting with ‘all the gear and no idea.’ We now pride ourselves on being ‘just us’ and for taking the time to ask the right questions of a prospective client and prepare, prepare, prepare whether it’s for a 1-2-1 or a large client proposal!

3. Just say no!

Those of you of a certain age will be singing this tune from “Grange Hill.” Well, it took us a good few years to ‘just say no’ but a massive lesson learnt is that it’s ok to not take work on. Sometimes the timing isn’t right, the project is too big or too small, the area of expertise doesn’t quite fit or there might be a client clash. No isn’t a bad word. In fact it’s a great word because used in the right place at the right time saying no is extremely empowering (and has most certainly kept us sane over the years).

4. Work with other specialists

Just saying no, leads us nicely on to referring any work that doesn’t “fit” to the people who can really help.  We’re very honest with any new enquires and know where we can help best. In fact some prospective clients have fed back how refreshing it is to be totally upfront and honest.  So if somebody wants a complex Facebook Advertising campaign, or running an all singing all dancing Google Ads campaign, we surround ourselves with specialists who we can send them to.

5. Know your skill set and where you want to work

When we first started back in 2010 we were offering all sorts of marketing support from corporate communication channels, event management to PR.  However over the years, we’ve realised how we can help our clients the best and more importantly the work that we actually enjoy doing.

When we look back at how far we’ve come since 2010 we’ve got reason to pat ourselves on the back and one of the most successful journeys we’ve been on is to become sought after social media and SEO trainers.

We put the work in, of course, but we’ve developed ourselves into professional trainers who regular run group and 1-2-1 workshops with businesses in and around Bucks and Berks.

We still get that flutter of nerves and adrenaline before we run a course but that’s a good thing and we will continue to learn ourselves so our training becomes better and better.

Knowing the areas you want to work in and how you want to work will certainly make your job more enjoyable. Whilst we work with a wide range of companies, when new business enquires come our way we know immediately which ones we will be able to help the most and this is how our business will continue to grow, with our support team helping along the way.

6. Push out of your comfort zone

Whilst saying no is a good thing, sometimes a project comes along on a very large scale, but you know you have the skills you have to do it, it’s just a little bit daunting at the time.  We’ve had several occasions where we’ve been asked to present to large audiences or travel to places further afield. We’ve also set up webinars and trusted the technology to take our training all over the World (as far a field as the USA and Canada). We’ve also seen some of our larger clients go though massive change, with changes in senior management and we’ve been to some pretty full-on meetings.  However the scale of this work doesn’t mean we can’t do it.  Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves that “little old us” has been involved in such big projects.  However pushing out of your comfort zone gives a real sense of achievement (and also makes the day-to-day stuff seem so much easier).

7. Networking

Joining a networking group is the single best decision we made for our business. It’s brought countless clients our way, amazing contacts who we now outsource to, training, support and friendship.

When we began networking back in 2010 we joined WIBN in Maidenhead and we joined together! It took us back to our A-level English class where we’d sit together, petrified that Mrs Jones would ask us a question about Chaucer!

It wasn’t long before we were brave enough to network separately, spreading our net. After all there were no scary Mrs Jones’ at WIBN and Athena, only lovely friendly ladies – many of whom we still network with today.

8. Flexible working wins!

The whole point of setting up One to Three Marketing was so that we could work flexibly around our families and without a doubt we’ve achieved that. We love that we are able to do the school drop offs, watch sports fixtures and plays and still get to do the job we love. Some days we might not be at our desks much at all, but the world doesn’t stop spinning and we can work that evening.

We now have extra virtual members of our team who do regular work for us and we don’t mind if they work at 2 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning! We are huge advocates for flexible working and hope to see more businesses embrace it in the future.

We’ve also learned it’s ok to let others know our hours.  We don’t want to be in client meetings or on conference calls when our children are home from school (even though they are all teenagers now) and all of our clients are totally respectful of this (and in fact lots of them work in a similar way).

9. It’s ok to be happy with where you are

We get lots of advice from well-meaning individuals encouraging us to grow the business, employ staff and perhaps even set up a joint premises.  Whilst sometimes these thoughts cross our minds we know that what we currently have works well for us and our families.  We don’t want to have a huge company to float on the stock exchange (although retiring in the Caribbean does sound attractive)!  Seriously, we think it’s ok to say we’re happy with what we’ve got and we don’t want to be managing teams of people and working longer hours than we do now.  That’s not to say we’re not ambitious and that we don’t want to succeed.  We’re just content with what we have. It’s more important for us to have time in our busy weeks to fit in some exercise, go on a dog-jog or even meet up for one of our board walks.

10. Proving that mixing business and friendship can and does work

There were a few cynics when we joined forces in 2010. Would our friendship crash and burn? Was business worth testing our friendship? Well, to those cynics….look at us now!! We’re not saying it would work for everyone but we are lucky to share a very similar outlook on business and life and it’s fair to say never in these 10 years have we shared a cross word. We totally have each other’s backs, are 100% honest with each other and wouldn’t want to be in partnership with anyone else.

Of course we’ve learned loads more over the years but these things really stand out to us – here’s to the next ten!!!

2 thoughts on “10 Lessons Learned after 10 years in business

  1. Reply
    Zbigniew - February 27, 2020

    Hi, congratulations of your anniversary. Best lessons from your list are number 1 and 9. Really important things, which are often ignored, not only in SEO agencies, but generally in big companies.

    1. Reply
      Lisa Vassallo - April 1, 2020

      Thanks for the feedback and glad you like points 1 and 9!

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