My Elevator Pitch? Let’s Head To The Sky Bar As That Gives Me More Time

Having a company that can serve multiple audiences should never be seen as a complicated burden, but presents a real opportunity.

The identity that my companies have built over the years, have served different audiences.

Banishing Blue Monday with Red Shirts

Whilst it is tempting for many businesses to consolidate and bring your business activity to one overall name, for a small business, having a number of companies that tie into an industry has kept us going for over 20 years.

The Multiple Structure

Here is an overview of the different business lines

· e-mango: Web development specialising in membership organisations and small local councils

· Datacenta Hosting: managed Internet hosting for Government and local businesses

· X-Net: consultancy arm specialising in senior interim roles on large IT projects

Originally Limited companies in their own right, they are now trading brand names within Kimcell Ltd.

Yes I know, another name to contend with but it reduced the number of payrolls, accounts and Companies House submissions.

In fact, there are more X-Nets: X-Net Chambers LLP (senior consultants in the Security sector and expert witnesses) and X-Net II (consultants in the law enforcement sector on transformational projects and DevOps).

To make life simpler, let’s assume there is one X-Net that covers the consulting services in general.

Breaking The Roles Down Even Further

I am a shareholder and director in all those businesses, so they are all important to me. What they do and the people involved are also important to me.

It also works nicely as a background story.

We work on three layers of business that complement each other:

1) Consultancy layer that helps clients work out what they need

2) Delivery layer that creates the tools and systems

3) Service layer that hosts and run those operations

The “full service” model works well within the private sector. The “one stop shop” to handle everything makes total sense.

In the public sector however, things are slightly different. You can’t generally be the source that tells the client what they need, then deliver what they need, and then run it for them.

As you can imagine, my head darts around the needs of all the businesses, every hour of every day. The call on my involvement is omnipresent. The depth of my knowledge across it all, is not deep. Do I care that everything and everyone is OK wherever they be? Of course I do.

It certainly makes for an interesting life.

Diversity In Business

Business gurus state that diversity in business is good. One business with a diverse portfolio of products and services or a portfolio of diverse businesses.

It was the recurring service revenues of e-mango and Datacenta Hosting that saw them through two deep recessions, being able to scale back when demand dropped. Consultants are external associates, so if they are not needed, there is no cost.

Whilst there has been branding efforts spent on logos, pull-up banners, exhibitions and adverts, there’s not been any real branding work in terms of what I understand today.

Between the key directors, there was a general consensus that I represent the face of the businesses. I now get it. I didn’t always want to be, but that’s another story (which has been told recently).

Being the “face” of it sounds easy. It becomes my biggest asset, a memorable asset at that, by just turning up and being visible. There is a lot more work that goes into the word “networking,” but that has begun to pay off locally in Dorset for Datacenta.

Folded arms pose in front of a yellow command van for no reason.

But what of the other brands? e-mango’s potential client base is national. X-Net’s potential client base represents a few national security agencies and all the police forces. Still a work in progress.

I created a small poll recently on Twitter to find out what brand people associate me with. There was an unexpected answer in that someone said it was my involvement in the local Southbourne community they related to.

Different Businesses, Different Audiences

The ability to wear different hats and talk to multiple audiences on different services can be a strong place to be.

Wearing one of my different hats

So, what have I learnt?

Being visible is key. This is how people identify you with your business, but that is not enough.

Forget turning up with your business cards to pass around and always concentrating on turning the next conversation into a sale. You have to also be supportive and that takes energy. You have to represent the businesses and the audiences you support as well as being a trusted point of contact, that is honest, approachable and has values that are embedded with others.

This has led to some amazing outcomes. I look forward to sharing these with you.

Hats off to everyone running a business

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Gordon Fong

Lives in Southbourne, business locations in Bournemouth and Winfrith. Web, hosting and consultancy.