Tuesday, 9 September 2008

From Strength to Strength

I was incredibly proud to have been invited to the opening of PhotoArtistry's new premises in Northampton last week.

PhotoArtistry is the UK's leading digital print reproduction company and their products are just fantastic.

Here I am with Anne Herbert, founder and CEO - who I have been mentoring for the past year or so - who has done a brilliant job of bringing the company's sales from strength to strength.

It's so wonderful to see entrepreneurs blossom!


Stephen said...

Right: sales, sales, sales, profit and more sales - then sell the whole bloody thing for a cool mill in a couple of years time.

Keep the fire burning, keep the pedal to the metal and don't let the barstewards get you down.

And get off this blog right now.... you should be making more sales....


hani said...

Congratulations Anne and Rachel! Wishing you every success with your business Anne. The new premises look fab.

Stephen said...

thought i'd share....

9 out of 10 businesses that fail - start with no market research?

When entrepreneurs say that they learnt the hard way, they mean two things. They learnt that you need to be around long enough to really understand what business is all about and secondly that you should never invest a penny until you have identified a clear target market for your product.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't follow your heart, it just means you need to first start with market research.

We can all be passionate about this or that product, but how much more passionate are you when you are really in touch with your market? When you know how it thinks, what it looks like, how it is motivated and what it believes in and wants for the future.

You need to see, smell, touch, hear and taste your audience before you can truly cater for their every desire.

Don't start a business until you understand who you will be dealing with. Its all very obvious really, but 9 out of 10 business that fail - start with no Market Research.

Daran said...

I agree with you Stephen but statistics don’t tell the whole story… How many businesses actually fail because they didn’t do any market research?

Creating a business is a steep learning curve for anyone who hasn’t done it before and not doing market research before is just one of a multitude of reasons why businesses fail.

Saying that, I think Stephen has highlighted a very important point, do your market research early in the business development.

Daran said...

Sorry, forgot to say... Well done Anne!

Stephen said...

Daran, I think we might be at odds about the words "market research".

By MR, i mean "really knowing there is sufficient committment to your concept to get a consistent, steady, profitable cashflow going from the start" vs. "gaining an academic appreciation of the marketplace at any one point in time".

Call me risk averse, but if there is no money on the table - you just don't want to get out of bed.

Don't ask what you can do for the market. Ask what it can do for you.

If there is no committment to you -then your market research is well done and you should get the hell out.

No money down.

Anne Herbert said...

Thanks very much, Rachel, Hani, Stephen and Daran. It's an absolute joy to come to work in this new place and we all love it very much. Rachel had quite a lot of input in helping us to choose the building, laying out what should go where and even with the good clean colours that will soom become part of our new identity. We are working on revamping the website as well so watch this space.

In her modesty Rachel forgot to mention we have renamed the new gallery/showroom the Elnaugh Room. At her next visit I hope to have the plaque and little red curtain complete with drawstring!

Stephen I agree with you in many ways - market research is really important and getting to know your customer base even more so. Responding to their changing needs is a good way of keeping up - I'd say in addition to knowing who you are dealing with - listening to them equally is key.

Thanks once again - Rachel it was an absolute pleasure having you with us last Thursday and hope to see you again soon.


Daran said...

Amazing Stephen... Most entrepreneurs don't wait to get paid before getting out of bed!

Business is always a risk and if you're risk averse... don't start one, its a simple as that!

Stephen said...

Daran, Yep, heard that one before from entrepreneurs. In for a penny, in for a pound. Gung ho old chap. Over the hill and all that.

Plan, what plan? Sales, what Sales?
Profit, what Profit?

Much prefer myself to listen in on what's being said and invest where the music is sweet - albeit a little misdirected.

Else, i'd rather stay in bed, or somewhere near it.

You might wanna get used to "Mr risk averse". There is going to be a lot of him around in the next couple of years or so.

Leona said...

Your right it is a risk, however, great market research and a strong business model at the start reduces that risk. I have researched and shelved more businesses than I have set up through the results of my research and holes in the business model.

It has allowed me to asses not only the risk but the opportunity cost and has left me with a small selection of solid, well researched, well planned, scalable projects. Through this research the business model has naturally grown and blossomed allowing me to find fantastic solutions for problems I will be coming up against before they have arisen.

This solid foundation has given me the confidence, knowledge, strategies and tools to ensure the success of my business. I will never stop researching and learning my business and market, that is one of the fun parts. It's not about being adverse to risk for me, I have been a risk taker all my life, however I have now learnt to make sure I am taking the right risks and the only way you can find that out, is to research your market.

Dave said...


I am not understanding you!
I have made more than £45,000 profit in 6Months, and i am 21 and also i did about 6 Hours of Market research i Advertised it effectively.

And thus, i am growing day by day.


Leona said...

Rachel, if you don't mind me asking, how long did you spend in the research and business model development stage before launching Red Letter Days?

Stephen said...

Dave, A lot of people have the market research buried in their head before they start. They may have good experience of a particular sector or market opportunity.
That may be why you have been relatively successful so far.

You may have already had good contacts who are committed to you. You may have known a fairly safe bet.

That is all about knowing and researching your market and i guess that is a big tick in the box for you.

Keep an eye on the longer term though... and as Leona says... you never stop doing market research.

Stephen said...

ps. i have to add that Rachel didn't just create a business - she actually pioneered an entire marketplace.

The path to that is much more precarious - since any risks would have been very much greater, given there would have been very limited data to go on - given the marketplace was yet to be born.

How scary was that? Its Bill Gates stuff. Don't try this at home kids!

Anonymous said...


For once I agree with you. However, I also think that too many people get bogged down in desk based research instead of just trying the thing. Being an entrepreneur is about taking the right risks but not avoiding risk all together. After all, no risk = no return.


Stephen said...

I understand anonymous, but i myself am trying it a different way around right now.

Will let you know how i get on.

watch out for the
(no risk = sufficient return) formula.


Rachel Elnaugh said...

Yes, market research is important but the best market research is on real customers with real cash... That's why I'm a big advocate of the 'suck it and see' approach... Start small, prototype, put it out there, get feedback, hone and adjust until the formula is right.

The best market research positive feedback is tills ringing with money.

England 4 Croatia 1 - get in !!! Nothing like results to prove your talent Fabio ...