I joined FEO as a member last year. It is probably the best decision I’ve made for my business and myself as a company director. During that time I’ve helped out in various FEO teams and attended events with the other members. However, it has also helped me take stock of my own business and prepare for growth.
FEO offers training programmes to anyone, not just its members, and when applications opened for FEO360 I jumped at the chance. It’s aimed at SMEs with teenage businesses who want to go back to business basics to take informed steps towards growing.
To give a bit of background on myself, I got up one morning and started a PR company. I had always worked in PR but for other people (with the exception of owning a café which was a financial failure but a great experience). On this day I didn’t put much thought into it, a client presented themselves to me, so I just went for it as I could do the job to service that client. That was almost eight years ago and since then a series of opportunities have been presented to me, which have either been successful or not, but this is how Divine Clark PR was born and has since grown organically.
I had no business training but had experienced a failed business which made me cautious of overheads, but year on year Divine Clark PR has grown, employing myself, my husband and a part-time employee who is currently studying at The University of Hull. Each year turnover increases and our core clients value us as part of their team and for the great service we offer. We have always made a profit and a reasonable living but I didn’t have a plan in place and wasn’t really sure which direction I wanted it to take.
For me FEO360 has been a series of light bulb moments. The six, half-day sessions are spread over twelve weeks and each focusses on the basic principles of running a business; studying what makes people tick - are they blue, green, red or yellow? Writing a succinct business plan, compiling systems and processes to cover every activity, the financials, employing people and sales skills, but what makes this different from any other business programme is the people who run it…
Outsiders can’t grasp the fact that FEO members are local entrepreneurs with hugely successful businesses and tonnes of experience who give up their time for **FREE** to help people like me (and you) to become successful in business! Crazy, isn’t it? Why do they do it? Because if they help SMEs grow, we can employ people and create wealth and jobs in Hull and the surrounding area. The members take time out of their own business to get stuck in and all seem to genuinely love the whole experience of being in business and supporting like-minded people. If something sounds too good to be true it often is but please believe me, FEO is even better than it sounds.
Turning up for every session is vital to your success, as is doing the homework and following up on the tasks. James Chandler is a financial planner who oversees FEO360. He is a process driven guy and speaks with brutal honesty as he only wants to help people who want to help themselves. Sometimes the group felt like we’d been ‘told off’, but he just wants us to smash out of the comfort zone of our usual routine and challenge ourselves to be better. Sounds scary but the whole group seemed fired up and ready to put all the learning into action and FEO360 is the tool kit to do this.
Now that I have completed FEO360 I feel quite overwhelmed as there is so much to do. I have to write down all of the processes in my business so that other people can pick up the tasks I do at work and do them for me, if they follow a set process they can’t go wrong. I have put a sales process together (I never did any sales before and I work in PR), we are advised to spend an hour everyday on some sort of sales activity. I also have to tidy up my business plan - I have two goals which my ever evolving plan aims to achieve in ten years!
If you have set up on your own like me, it is likely you have learned the hard way and made mistakes. I suggest you sign up for the next programme and learn how to avoid these giant mistakes, saving you time, money and it could propel your business forward beyond your wildest dreams.
Thanks FEO, I’m very grateful to be with you.
P.S. If you don’t know what ‘JFDI’ stands for, ask you teenager or look up founder FEO member David Hall.