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What can law firms learn from small business owners, and why is knowing your clientele imperative?
These are just a few of the questions explored at a recent event organized in partnership with law firm JMW on growth challenges for SMEs in the region.
In the second part of our article, we will hear from Naomi Timperley, Co-Founder of We are GSI, Marc Yaffe, Partner and Head of Commercial Litigation at JMW Solicitors and Harry Luscombe, Commercial Director at Total Processing.
Naomi Timperley, Co-Founder, We Are GSI
A mainstay of the tech world, Naomi is co-founder of Tech North Advocates and is a seasoned growth and innovation consultant.
She co-founded Manchester-based We are GSI with serial entrepreneur and author Vikas Shah to help scale businesses with growth, strategy and innovation services.
Naomi has worked with hundreds of companies over the past few years and says one of the biggest issues she sees with founders / entrepreneurs is trust.
“I have mentored around 400 people who start or operate businesses and I think the confidence and confidence in them has been a big challenge for many,” she told the audience.
“Having a great business model and knowing your customers should be essential.
“The companies I meet, especially on the start-up side, sometimes have no idea who their customers are because they haven’t done the market validation and research and are making assumptions.
“They assume they know who their customers might be or assume they think they’re solving a particular problem the customer has, but in fact, unless they’ve had those conversations, they’re not. have no idea. “
Naomi, who recently ran the FreelanceHer100 program at HOST where she worked with 100 local freelancers to help them with their business ventures, also believes it was important to surround yourself with a ‘tribe’.
She said, “It’s about finding the right tribe of people to help you as you embark on this large-scale journey.
“Having great professional services is part of it and it’s important to make sure they will look out for you and make suggestions to help you evolve and grow.
“Getting clients is probably the hardest thing and making sure you also keep clients and spend time with them is key. “
Naomi also spoke about the importance of innovating and disrupting the market to keep SMEs ahead of the competition.
“It doesn’t mean you have to do something completely different; it just means you have to do better, ”she said.
“Covid has certainly accelerated innovation and people across all industries have had to think about how they’re going to do business now.
“Stores in local towns and villages also had to go online, they had no choice, but I’m also seeing more and more innovative companies disrupting themselves to be able to retain their customers.
“One of the biggest sectors in the Northwest is manufacturing and these companies are in the same situation that they have had to adapt to new technologies and digitize to continue to grow and maintain that growth.”
Naomi said the region was “lucky” to have an ecosystem in place to help SMEs access support services and as chair of the industry advisory board at the University of Salford Business School, she is a strong advocate of encouraging SMEs to work with their local universities.
“We have some brilliant, leading universities in the Northwest, and I think there is a missed opportunity for more companies to work with institutions like the University of Salford. We have a growth management program designed to help SMEs learn new skills. There are a lot more and it’s something we don’t talk about enough.
Harry Luscombe, Commercial Director at Total Processing
Founded in 2015, Total Processing is today one of the UK’s fastest growing fintech companies, serving more than 3,000 customers and disrupting the payments industry through the delivery of solutions personalized payments in online and in-store channels around the world.
Harry Luscombe joined Total Processing from SaaS platform company Mercarto in October 2021. In his new role, Luscombe will help Total Processing identify a profitable business and marketing strategy as the company further expands into the EMEA market.
The business has grown significantly over the past 12 months as more and more retailers have moved to the Internet and therefore need an online payment system.
“A lot of our customers wanted an omnichannel approach so that they could make payments online and in-store as well. So we’ve seen many retailers come to us and explore their options for accepting payments online, whether it’s recurring payments or one-off transactions. ,” he said.
This growth has seen the company take on more than 1,000 customers in 2021, with similar growth expected this year. Part of the appeal lies in the company’s position in the market.
“There are some brilliant companies in this industry, some that have been established for much longer.
“But what they lack is that element of customer service that is still very important if you are a growing business and want to discuss your business needs with the additional technical capabilities and expertise that we can. provide in addition to this added value.
“Our technology is innovative and we invest and innovate all the time because our goal is to be the customer-centric payments provider on a global scale. “
Last year, Total Processing opened its first office outside of Europe, expanding internationally with a new base in Dubai.
Located in the heart of the city’s business district at One Central Dubai, the new office enables the company to strengthen its strategic partnerships with key clients based in the MENA region, allowing them to significantly increase their presence.
“We have grown to 10 people in Dubai, and this is an area where we are seeing strong growth, because historically this is a region of the world that has experienced a lack of alternative payment methods and a customer-based offering. data that has hosted many return companies, so the opportunity out there is huge.
Marc Yaffé, Partner and Head of Commercial Litigation at JMW Solicitors
JMW Solicitors law firm, with offices in Manchester, Liverpool and London, has grown exponentially in recent years.
It recently announced a ‘record’ half year with revenue growing 36% to £ 32.5million for the six months to October 31, 2021, while profits grew by a similar amount.
The company now employs more than 600 people in its offices.
Marc Yaffe joined JMW over a decade ago and has seen the inner city business grow during this time, including opening an office in London in May 2019.
He said that at the heart of the business is an “entrepreneurial spirit” and an innovation-driven approach to reaching new customers as well as attracting and retaining staff.
“I have worked with entrepreneurs, business owners and SMEs for 20 years and we hear about their challenges, their resilience, their ability to try something new and if that doesn’t work try something new. different.
“That’s really what inspired me throughout my career as a lawyer. What I’ve always tried to do with our people is look at the very human element of what we do.
“Yes, we provide a service, but more importantly, we try to create a safe, entrepreneurial and fast-growing environment for our people.
“And we try to motivate them to make sure they’re providing the best service to customers.
“I’ve spent so much time over 10 years helping clients with all kinds of issues, but at the end of the day it’s about providing service that goes above and beyond.
“I have always had a real admiration for entrepreneurs and people who run their own businesses. My wife runs her own home business running a brand of matching dad and kids clothing and I’ve spent weekends packing boxes and taking them to retailers, and I see this real desire of entrepreneurs to do get things done.
“So as lawyers we have to take that into account.
“Our clients want to know what the solution to their problem is and we have to provide it to them and I think it is spreading throughout the firm because we have very talented people working with us and who have helped us grow.”
He continued, “We have been very fortunate to be able to recruit such wonderful staff. The reason is that we are moving very, very quickly, but also, they see a development path.
“We have people who want to push the boundaries and want to do more, and we’ll help them get there by providing them with the right environment. “
One of the challenges in the legal sector has been to recruit the right talent, and like other industries such as technology, Manchester companies also compete with big players in London for the same talent.
“Covid has changed the world of work and many people can now work from anywhere in the UK, so some lawyers are offered salaries in London.
“In my opinion, and some might say it’s controversial, but it’s a very short-term approach. If you are a lawyer sitting in your home doing the legal work that has been provided to you, you do not have the same opportunity to build relationships with clients and with the team.
“In fact, you are a lawyer specializing in the purely legal field. But if you want to progress and grow often, it’s about people, and your internal network is as important as your external network.