Welcome to this week’s episode of The Whin Big Podcast where we meet Louise Spence, one half of the Edinburgh based business consultancy firm Headspace for Business.
This is another packed out episode where Louise and Katie discuss a host of topics around running a business.
Have you struggled with finding your true voice when it comes to marketing your business online? Or would you find business life easier if you had a business partner to share the load with? Louise Spence faced these challenges when starting out and shares her insight with Katie in this week’s episode.
In this week’s episode of The Whin Big podcast, Katie and Louise talk about finding the best rhythms and systems for navigating your business through the current climate and Louise shares her advice on writing an effective business plan to help guide you onto a steady path.
Today’s episode is sponsored by our Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist will take you through all the most important things you need to get right in your Instagram marketing. Click below to sign up for the free training and download the checklist.
Headspace for Business background
Headspace for Business is a finance and marketing support company set up 18 months ago by Louise and her business partner Fiona. They met while sitting on a charitable board. They were working independently at the time and were bouncing business ideas off each other when they realised how much more value they could add to their client work if they joined forces.
Their clients come from different backgrounds and industries and range in size. They can work on short bursts to develop business plans or they can become part of the fabric of their client’s business and work on much longer term projects.
All of this means the day-to-day for the Headspace for Business duo is always busy, varied and interesting.
When success is about losing clients
Louise and Fiona work with clients at different stages of business development. They can come in at the beginning for a startup company, or support a team during a new launch or project – and everything in between. Often this means when they ‘lose’ a client it’s because they’ve achieved their goals and are ready to move on to the next step in their business.
In other words – Headspace for Business does their job well. They achieve what they set out to do, so losing a client is a good thing!
“Sometimes, finance service providers make the waters really murky so their clients always need them. I don’t see it like that. It’s my job to make it simple, to help them to crack on and do it themselves and have control.” – Louise
The highs of running your own business
When Louise started working on her own, it came from a place of craving flexibility and having more control over her day. So it’s a surprise for her that the real highs come from seeing clients grow in confidence after working with Headspace for Business.
Katie agreed that this fitted with her knowledge of business owners. In her experience, Katie felt new business owners would start off feeling excited by freedom to keep their own hours and enjoy flexibility in their day, and as their business progresses, they feel more satisfaction around serving clients and seeing clients succeed.
Key factors when going into business with a friend
Both Fiona and Louise had their own client base before joining forces so it was important that they felt they could set clear boundaries and have open communication before they partnered up.
They knew each other outside of a work context but it wasn’t until they joined a local charity board they realised they enjoyed working together.
“Right from the start, I knew we didn’t have any big ego stuff. I am very relaxed and often I have to be careful around others because they are higher strung. Fiona is as relaxed as I am – but just as focussed.” – Louise
The importance of open communication
As their business relationship grew, their friendship did too so it was important to set boundaries so they weren’t always talking about work outside of work.
They have worked hard at communicating in an honest and calm way – they find they’re able to tell each other exactly how they feel about ideas. Open communication like this means they can ask the right questions and trust the answers. It goes a long way to growing in confidence and finding your own voice.
“People are always looking for the secret life hack for finding the right business partner and there’s no quick way to do it. You have to build genuine relationships with people and eventually you’ll find a relationship that just makes sense.” – Katie
Headspace for Business marketing
Louise and Fiona market through their Instagram page, as well as their individual LinkedIn profiles. As well as social media, they have a website and a mailing list. Another way they built up their business was through face to face networking – which is currently on hold for obvious reasons.
Marketing on LinkedIn
Louise prefers to use this platform because it’s where she feels most comfortable. “I know what’s expected of me on there!”
She has a corporate background and knows the importance of being the expert in the room. Louise finds it easier to write about what she’s working on, tips about the industry she’s working in at that time.
Engaging with others on LinkedIn
Another important factor for building relationships on LinkedIn is engaging with people as much as possible. Louise finds that engaging with her network makes it easier to feel present – and building relationships comes easier that way.
When setting up, Louise and Fiona set up a mastermind, networking session and gathered email addresses from that to keep up the knowledge sharing. They now send a monthly newsletter with insight, advice and resources.
Louise finds this a great way to keep up to date with people, as people tend to save an email and come back to it to read in their own time, rather than the quicker nature of social media.
“It was funny at first because we’d be sending stuff out to five people on a list. But then, nobody knew there was only 5 people on the list so we just kept doing it and it grew from there.” – Louise
The blogging conundrum
As a team, they do produce blogs and post them to their website, but Louise is not yet convinced if blogging is a good use of time and effort. Katie has a lot of insight on blogging and creating quality content – in fact she created a whole episode on the subject.
Part of the issue for Louise is getting hung up on the noise and expectation that comes from posting and growing an audience. She talks about how easy it is to get caught up in the numbers and being dragged into doing the same as everybody else, rather than producing good quality content.
“Everyone seems to be running 6-figure businesses. That’s the new thing that everybody’s chasing isn’t it? If you can just close off the noise and focus on what you want to do, and make the living you want to make and the standard of living. That’s the key.” – Louise
Finding your own business voice in marketing efforts
When they started Headspace for Business they looked at what their peers and competitors did and emulated it until they grew in confidence and found their own business voice and brand personality.
“There’s ways to talk about ‘boring’ business things which have personality in them. My way of explaining how hashtags work is full of my personality – because I get excited about it. The more enthusiastic you are about your subject matter, the more of you come into it. When I’m not interested in something and I’m not excited about it – it sounds much more like repeating something I read on the internet.” – Katie
Business Plans: Advice on writing – and using – one effectively
One of the Headspace for Business services is to work with clients to write business plans. Katie asks Louise about the benefits of writing one and how it could benefit The Whin’s progress over the next few years.
- Use your business plan as a map to guide you. Use it as a reference to keep on track
- A business plan should include the answers to these questions:
- What am I trying to do?
- How am I helping people?
- What’s different about my business?
- Who are my customers?
- How can I reach them?
- What do I need to earn to make this work?
Here’s the full guide to writing a business plan on the Headspace for Business website.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – Louise loves it because it’s a great reminder that you don’t start off really successful, it’s a good lesson in how you have to keep going.
The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon is about working in different areas that excite you and inspire you. You can have a portfolio career and have great success.
Resources mentioned in this week’s podcast
4 lessons I learned from failing at blogging (Whin Big Podcast episode 34)