Business secrets from Adrian Willson, founder, Creativevents
Be passionate about your company and its customers
Successful companies are where they are today because they have been prepared to do more to meet their clients' needs and requirements than their competitors. Deeds speak volumes. It will quickly get around that you are the company to watch out for.
Good testimonials are worth their weight in gold
Customer endorsement equates to good business credentials, especially if you are breaking into a new market. Over time when you build up your portfolio of clients and wish to expand in your chosen sector or new markets, good testimonials will give other people a very good snap shot of your company's qualifications and values.
Use all possible means of sales communication
Pictures speak a thousand words and we have spent more time developing our portfolio of photos from exciting events or great catering achievements than any other means of communication. We used to send out picture portfolios to prospective clients, but our website is now a more cost-effective sales tool which we update at every opportunity. We include employment information as well as staff testimonials, because without new staff joining the team, the business cannot grow.
Solve your clients' problems
The key to finding solutions to clients' problems is to offer your company's assistance wholeheartedly and ultimately provide them with an answer that exceeds their expectations. Their problem is your problem to solve. That "can do" attitude and tenacity will further develop your relationship in the eyes of your client and should result in unwavering support in the future.
Never be complacent
Never rest on your laurels as you never know who is lurking around the corner to encroach on your market share. Be innovative as there is nothing better than receiving accolades externally and respect internally for your hard work.
Learn from your mistakes
If you don't, you will surely not succeed or it will take you much longer to grow your business. Always listen to your staff as they are your eyes and ears and adapt to situations very quickly because if you don't it could cost you, not only your reputation, but also your pocket.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE
If at first you don't succeed try, try, try, try and continue trying as long as it takes, as eventually you will get there. But nobody said it was going to be easy.
I was very fresh to the event catering industry in 1997. I had no contacts whatsoever and the only two things I had going for me was a good idea and a real determination to succeed. With no money, and a £15,000 university overdraft, I had to convince the bank to lend me £15,000. I was told to go away for six months, compile a business plan and, as I was unemployed, to approach the Prince's Trust and Business Link for financial support.
With a £5,000 Prince's Trust loan and a £2,000 Business Link loan, I persuaded the bank that I had a real viable business proposition and they too backed my venture .
1994 Willson works as temporary bar manager at a Pink Floyd concert at Earls Court, London, which inspires him to create a company that can offer better catering solutions
1996 Creativevents set up as a sole trader based from Willson's two-bedroom flat in West Norwood, London
1997 Creativevents receives backing from the Prince's Trust, Business Link and HSBC bank and wins first contract at Windsor Racecourse. Adrian's brother Ian Willson joins the company and receives a 50% equity stake
2005 Creativevents wins the majority of retail catering contract at Earls Court and Olympia
2007-08 For two consecutive years Creativevents is awarded a position in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 UK companies
2010 Creativevents wins catering contract for Brooklands Museum in Weybridge - its first foothold in the cultural and heritage sector