Spring 2017 marks the start of my 4th year in business as a consultant to the chilled food and fresh produce industry.
Launching a new business in the UK is a process that can be facilitated by a good business advisor, accountant and mentor but staying in business takes something else.
Of course, being self-employed isn’t for everyone but I quickly realised that with some good systems in place, I would have what it takes to start and develop my business.
I’ve called this blog Adapting to Change as the words of Charles Darwin have been a great source of inspiration “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”.
So how does a technical consultancy provide a constant standard of service in an ever changing world?
Here are some of the things I would like to share:
Keep talking to your clients
Understanding the client and their needs is key to a successful relationship. Time poor and resource stretched technical directors and managers do not necessarily step back and see where the root cause of the problems lie. Talking regularly with them about how the business is going, sending updates or just finding out who is latest team member to add to their family can be a good way for them to open up and chat. These conversations lead to moments of clarity and an opportunity to help the team improve in an area or develop new systems.
Network with your peers
Networking with colleagues in the same field over the last three years has also been a great help. I attend professional working groups in my sector and help organise events which is a great way to get to know people. I originally focused on providing my own services to businesses but through collaborating on projects with food safety professionals, registered nutritionists, academics and specialists in innovation, I have been able to grow my business and offer more services to the food and fresh produce industry.
Work on your self development
It can be tempting to focus on continuous professional development in one area but last year I applied for a Nuffield Farming Scholarship. This gives me a travel grant and the opportunity to look at how nutrition in vegetables can be improved by engaging the whole supply chain from the farmer to manufacturer, nutrition scientist, distributors and consumer.
Throughout the process, I have met members of the farming community in sectors such as poultry, beef and dairy who I wouldn’t normally get to meet. I spent an evening last week tweeting to an Irish dairy farmers about the merits of grazing dairy cattle on kale.
These experiences whilst not directly relevant to my business, help broaden my horizons and look at challenges through a new lens.
As a new graduate in the 1990s, my mantra was to get out into the world and change things for the better. Experience has taught me that change does indeed start with you……
I look forward to my next 3 years and more in business and if you are a chilled food manufacturer or fresh produce business looking for technical resource across food safety and technical systems, supply chain auditing or nutritional labelling then do get in touch, the team look forward to working with you.