Hmmm… maybe there’s a better analogy, but here’s what happened. Mid-lockdown, mid-2020, like most people in the creative industries, my workload took a bit of a hit – till things settled down at least. This provided a bit more space for other things in the working day and fortuitously, I happened to come across a government-funded business development programme designed to support self-employed individuals and small business owners in the Greater Manchester area.
Well, who doesn’t like something for nothing? I thought it might enable me to shine a light on aspects of what I’m doing that I wouldn’t normally have the time to focus on. The scheme lasted several months and towards its conclusion, I was provided with access to a number of one-to-one coaching workshops. There were dozens to choose form, covering all aspects of business ownership, from accounting and tax, legal issues, business planning and strategy through to improving skills in networking, copywriting, marketing, social media and practical, technical know-how in areas like SEO and website development.
As my particular time on the scheme was drawing to a close, one of the coaches I was working with enquired whether I had done any coaching or consultancy work in my specialist field – that of graphic design, of course – because, he said he thought “I’d be pretty good at it”. Aside from several terms as an evening class tutor running a graphics-for-signmaking course at a technical college twenty-odd years ago, that particular area of my CV was looking pretty sparse.
To cut a long story short, following some distance interviewing, paperwork and compilation of course outlines, I started as a Branding & Design Consultant at the turn of 2021, and have a growing roster of clients to who I’m imparting various nuggets of wisdom and guidance to enable them to present themselves more confidently and successfully in their respective marketplaces.
It’s incredibly stimulating and rewarding. It’s all done over Teams or Zoom. No two clients are the same and neither are the particular issues they are seeking advice on. Among others, so far, I’ve spoken with a driving instructor, an independent travel agent, a wedding photographer, a designer of lingerie, hand-crafted jewellery makers and a couple of catering businesses.
If you’re a small business in the Manchester area, details of the scheme are here. And if you end up seeking advice about your branding, identity, marketing materials or website, you might even end up talking to me!