Business of the Month

Although JK Online is only a year old, both Karl and Joe have been in touch with us at The Kent Foundation for about 7 or 8 years. They first approached The Kent Foundation when they were both about 18, with an idea to sell art at local craft fairs that their friends and family had made. This business didn’t go very far, but was an amazing opportunity and insight into the business world for the both of them.

Jump forward several years, and now with the idea of JK Online, they approached The Kent Foundation again, shortly after setting up the business. Both Karl and Joe were keen to learn as much about business as possible and also connect with other like-minded business people.

Karl and Joe

The business started with us both being part time, but over the last 3 months, both of us have gone full time as we continue to grow and improve the business. The business started with just the idea of providing website designing, but has now grown into also providing social media marketing. Our plan for JK Online over the next few years is to keep growing our service list until we can offer the full digital marketing package. At JK we strive to break the norm. We believe in good service at affordable prices for website design, social media marketing and more. We are now officially a 5-star service on Wix arena, Google and Facebook! We truly value making customers enjoy their experience with us, and to date we have creating nearly 100 sites.

So, the first thing we were provided with through the Kent Foundation was a business mentor to help us through the first months of what was starting to be a busy time as the interest in JK Online was growing. Our business mentor has been one of the most valuable assets to the business. Both of us can can get overly excited by new ideas and lose the initial vision for the business. Hanna at The Kent Foundation matched us perfectly with a business mentor that can keep us grounded, and point us in the right direction. We now meet monthly with our business mentor who gives us tips and ideas for what we should do for the following month. Some of the biggest shift in the JK Online business were off the back of one of those meetings as we both realised that the direction we were going was not exactly where we wanted to be and our business mentor was able to help us realise this and get us back on track.

We were also invited to various Kent Foundation events that would help us take our business forward. This has been a great asset to us both as it has introduced us to other young business people going through the same process as us, as well as businesses that have been through the aches and pains of a new business and come out the other end successfully. The ability to talk to others and get their input is a great asset. Kent Foundation host Mastermind sessions where they get some of the business mentors and the young businesses together to talk about areas they may need help with in their business.

Just a last note from JK. We would like to thank The Kent Foundation for all the support they have given us and would urge any young business people to get in touch with them to see how they can help you too.

Visit JK Online here

A Blast! 2019

On the 16th May 2019 The Kent Foundation A Blast! opened its doors at The Maidstone Studios. It was a awesome evening celebrating Young Entrepreneurs and Business owners in Kent. A huge thank you from everyone at The Kent Foundation to all the exhibitors and their amazing stands which showcased their businesses, to our visitors and your interest in the work we do, and our key sponsors for your support. A final thanks to Liu Batchelor for capturing our event, we hope this inspires you to think about how you get involved in A Blast 2020! We look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks to our sponsors

Business of the Month

At school, Hannah Catchlove decided that she wanted to start her own business by the time she was 30. She didn’t know exactly what her business would be, she just knew she wanted to make it happen. Her opportunity arose in 2015 when she was relocating from her home in Kent to Suffolk, when her current employer asked her to continue working with the firm as a freelance graphic designer.

Whilst living in Suffolk, Hannah started to grow her freelance client base and also launched a range of illustrated cards that she began selling online. In 2016, Hannah moved back to Kent and attended the Kent Foundation A Blast! networking event where she found out about the support available and subsequently signed up to be matched with a mentor.

Since moving back to Kent, Hannah’s online shop had been having consistent sales and she was enjoying illustrating and creating new products. She decided this was going to be her business focus and now sells a range of cards, prints and homeware through her website and specialist retailers.

Hannah first met her mentor, Julie a few months after the A Blast! Event and was low in confidence, having suffered some setbacks in her business. Julie initially helped her with confidence building exercises and overcoming ‘imposter syndrome’ whilst also focusing  Hannah to develop a robust business plan with measurable goals. Hannah and Julie continue to review her progress each month and they set fresh goals for 2019, reflecting on her achievements from the previous year.

Hannah’s plans for 2019 include raising the profile of her brand, particularly across Kent, increasing her range of stockists and to continue building upon the success of her online shop.

Hannah’s biggest success was securing her first retailer and her biggest challenges have been adapting to the isolation of working on her own and securing high quality british manufacturers for her illustrative products.

Hannah’s word of advice for other young people in business are….

Make sure you are starting a business you have a passion for.

Use your Mentor to give you advice and feedback that your friends and family may not want to.

Get systems in place and take advantage of technology to manage your finances, admin and invoicing.

Work when you are most effective, you don’t have to stick to office hours!

Hannah will be exhibiting her products at A Blast! 2019 on 16 May so drop by and say hello!

Visit HannaH’s website here

Mentoring – The hidden asset in any successful business

Adrian Wenn, volunteer mentor and treasurer at the Kent Foundation, looks at the benefits of working with a mentor and outlines some of the considerations a prospective mentee should take to help them find the perfect match for them and their business.

What do Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson have in common, other than their obvious business success? Well, both sought the guidance of mentors throughout their careers. While it may be easier to understand in the case of Branson, the Apple founder was famously single-minded, but he was not averse to seeking a little help, advice and support from time to time. No matter whom you are, where you’ve come from, or what you have achieved, a good mentor is an invaluable asset in business.

The young Branson was lucky enough to be introduced to a family friend, who was an accountant. The two would spend one evening a week discussing the basics of bookkeeping. Branson said, ‘it was hugely helpful, and he displayed amazing patience with my repeated requests of, ‘Erm, can you run that one by me just one more time, please.’

The other key individual to guide Branson was Sir Freddie Laker who had previously launched a low-cost Atlantic airline. Laker ultimately failed under the weight of competition and pricing tactics of the numerous state-run airlines that existed at the time. This experience helped Branson to launch Virgin Airlines and succeed against the might of the likes of British Airways.

Steve Jobs equivalent of Laker was former Intel manager Mike Markkula. His investment of $80,000 in equity and $170,000 as a loan earned Markkula a one-third share in Apple, but it was his role as what Jobs called the ‘adult supervisor’ that was by far and away his greatest contribution to keeping the unruly Apple youngsters on track.

The American author and businessman Zig Ziglar captured the essence of mentoring when he said, ’A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.’

While there are an enormous number of business advice books and websites to learn from, a mentor can provide that much-needed context in enabling a business owner to succeed. Some of the key benefits of a mentor are:

Advice

Obtaining advice from an experienced individual can make a big difference when it comes to navigating the business world. It can be particularly important to receive guidance from someone who knows you and your business but has no direct connection or vested interest. A dispassionate view is important when making key decisions.

Perspective

Sometimes business owners need to step back to see the big picture and mentors can help with providing this vital perspective.

Networking

Mentors have valuable business connections which have usually developed into trusting relationships over many years. A mentee can gain from both access to these networks but also to have the mentors endorsement when introductions are made.

Confidence and encouragement

Sometimes all it takes to make important business decisions is confidence. Mentors are perfectly positioned to provide guidance and reinforce the business skills their mentees have, making them more self-assured in all of their business dealings.

Sounding board

Running a business can be a lonely existence, and a mentor acts as a sounding board, listening to issues that have arisen and helping the mentee talk through potential solutions. Business owners sometimes just need to vent to someone they trust. They cannot vent to their partners, employees or customers without causing additional problems within the business. However, once they have ‘let off steam’ to a mentor, they can often start the process of working with the mentor to solve the cause of their frustration.

Challenge

A good mentor should offer constructive challenge and not merely agree with everything their mentee suggests. This ensures that all aspects of a plan have been considered and that the mentee is fully engaged and committed to their business and plans. It also ensures that vital element of realism. In the words of Steve Jobs, ’My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better’.

So what should a mentee consider when thinking about approaching a potential mentor? Three core requirements need to be met for a quality long-term relationship to be established.

Experience. Find someone that has significantly more experience than you. Experience takes time. It takes failure, overcoming roadblocks, and overstepping hurdles before reaching success. Immediate business success may not always translate into a strong mentor.

Values. Make sure your values are similar. It’s incredibly challenging to open up to someone who shares different values than you. When meeting a potential mentor, the following questions are useful. Do they value hard work and commitment? Do they talk in a positive way? Are they condescending? Can they listen? The mentee should think about what is important to them and make sure their mentor shares their core values.

Trust. If you cannot trust someone, you cannot learn from them. Trust is not only about being honest. It is about being able to rely on the mentor to be real, to be present, and to be engaged in the mentees story.

A quick search online will show the vast range of organisations and individuals offering to provide mentoring services. Some initial research by the mentee will be required to assess the credentials of these parties. While we are blessed with many people, who are willing to freely offer their time it is always best to approach any new relationship with a healthy level of scrutiny and scepticism.

Many industry and professional bodies provide valuable access to a range of mentors. In Kent, young business owners have the added support of The Kent Foundation, a charity which was established in 1985 and has over 100 fully trained volunteer business mentors. The support ranges from assisting start ups to more established businesses. The mentoring is complemented by a range of workshops, networking events and intensive roundtable discussions involving mentees and mentors.

While the background and experience of business mentors are varied, the vast majority are motivated by their wish to support like-minded business owners to achieve their full potential. As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

KCC Chairman visits Kent’s Young Entrepreneurs

On the 29th March 2019, the Chairman of Kent County Council, Cllr Mike Angell, and the Director of The Kent Foundation, Stuart Tanton, had a day out visiting young entrepreneurs and business owners. The visits were organised for Mike and Stuart to see the success these companies have had, as well as some time to get to know the business owners and understand some of the challenges they may of faced in their business journeys.

Ruby Frances Bridal, a designer wedding dress shop located in Minster, Thanet, and owned by sisters and business partners Sophie and Katie Kember was recently awarded The Kent Foundation Startup of the Year Award at our event in January. While there, Mike, Stuart, and the young business owners were able to talk in depth about the truly impressive boutique, what they offer, and what goes on behind the scenes for Sophie and Katie. Following the discussion, Mike and Stuart were also given an opportunity to have a guided tour around the store by the owners themselves.

We’ve just had a lovely visit from The Chairman of Kent County Council, Mr Mike Angell and Stuart Tanton, Director of The Kent Foundation, to talk all about our business and what we do. It was a pleasure looking after them both and showing them around our shop this morning! “

@rubyfrancesbridal on Instagram

Ben Towers, an Award Winning Young Entrepreneur and former mentee of The Kent Foundation, was also visited at his office by the Chairman and Director after their initial meeting at the January event. Towers, an influential businessman who started in the sector at the age of 11, sat down with Mike and Stuart to discuss his relationship with the business world, as well as what he believes regarding the future of young entrepreneurship and all the wonders that it could lead to.
“For me it’s always the dream for youth entrepreneurship to be encouraged and developed. It’s something that’s been a huge part of my story and I know just how significant it can be for myself and other young people in my field when we see our grind and hard work being recognised and pushed.  
It was a real honour to be able to welcome the Chairman of Kent Council yesterday to my office and sit down to discuss the endless possibilities that could come from pushing youth entrepreneurship.”

@ben.towers on Instagram

SimplyHair is operated from Hersden, near Canterbury by Piperis and Amy Filippaios, Piperis is also a Kent Foundation trustee. Their company distributes high quality hair extensions and tools for application to beauticians, parlours, and the public . While there, Stuart and Cllr Mike Angell were able to talk to Piperis and his team about the company’s target markets, growth to date, and their plans for growth in the future. Mike and Stuart were also given a tour of the warehouse and the opportunity to ask questions to Piperis and his colleagues regarding the business.

“We were honoured and pleased to host Cllr Mike Angell at our office and give him a tour of the SimplyHair warehouse. I personally enjoyed hosting Mike and I know that the rest of the team also enjoyed meeting him and answering his questions, of which there were many!”
Piperis Filippaios

A huge thank you to Sophie, Katie, Ben, and Piperis for hosting Stuart and Cllr Mike Angell!

The Big Ideas Show

The Big Ideas Show is a weekly video and audio series, exploring ‘The Big Picture’ with creative problem solving, goal setting, leadership and motivation. Based in Folkestone, Kent, they work to bring exciting content, thoughts and creative solutions to you for discussion! They talk to creatives, businesses and individuals about what motivates them to do what they do, and where they draw their inspiration from.

Stuart was invited on The Big Ideas Show to share some thoughts on the subject of asking for help and support. We would love to hear your thoughts on this, whether you agree or not. What are your thoughts?