A look back at 2021 by one of our members
Kerry Burgess of Cheshire Business Directory has put pen to paper on some the questions she is frequently asked to plan for 2022.
How did you become inspired to start The Cheshire Business Directory?
I was working with lots of clients, all of whom were yearning for a community of likeminded businesses to network with. So it was a no-brainer. I have years of marketing experience, so I knew that the Directory would be of great support to so many of my clients. They wanted to connect with fellow business owners, collaborate on projects, and find reputable suppliers in their local community. The Cheshire Business Directory gives businesses such a wealth of opportunity. For me, it really was about supporting local businesses to be the best they can be.
How did you prepare for starting your own business?
I knew starting my own business would be tough, so preparation was the key. I read some amazing books, spoke to friends and family, and really focused on planning, both short term and long term. Defining my core values and aims was essential early on. Doing so meant that I could create tangible goals that I really believed in.
I also started networking six months before I launched. That way, many local businesses knew about me and the Directory before I’d even welcomed my first client. Creating energy and chatter around the business was exciting, and it inspired me to keep going.
What are The Cheshire Business Directory’s USPs?
I’d been to a lot of networking events before I launched, so I’d already carved out a clear vision for what I believed successful networking to look like. I knew that I wanted to prioritise people, engagement and development. Learning from others and listening to inspirational talks ignites your passion, and provides you with vital time to stop and reflect.
The Cheshire Business Directory is multi-strategy. We work across all channels to give businesses the attention they’re after. Our services and product range can be tailored to each individual business, so that we fully align with their strategy and values. But at the heart of what we do are the businesses themselves, and the people behind them. We invest in them and genuinely care about their success within our community.
How did it feel to get your first client?
Incredible. It really was. When you’re thirsty for something, and you’ve worked so hard behind the scenes to make it work, it’s magical when it pays off. I still get the same buzz now when I welcome new clients to the Directory. Getting to know each new business and their mission for the year ahead is exciting and motivational.
I’d used a marketing campaign to attract attention and launched a special offer for those businesses who signed up to the Directory for six months, so I received a lot of interest early on. An effective social media strategy was crucial here, as was an impressive website. Many small businesses reached out straight away. Some because they needed support in getting seen and heard; others were looking for ways to engage and collaborate with reputable local businesses. It was a real mix.
The support I received so early on from businesses across the area was phenomenal. Within six months, The Directory had over 100 businesses and charities on the books. Word-of-mouth and a strong social media presence were definitely key drivers.
What are your top tips for promoting yourself?
Self-promotion is never easy, but people really do want to get to know the face behind a business. So you have to get out there. You have to have a voice – and be prepared to share it. A strong social media presence is a cheap and cost-effective marketing solution. I use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to promote the Directory. Although it was daunting at first, I persevered and wasn’t afraid to share my story. Doing this consistently, whilst managing the day-to-day operations of your business can be challenging, so clear planning and strategy are key.
You can find out more about how to use social media for your business here.
What do you believe is the first rule of business?
For me, this is simple. People buy people. I believe that if you’re a great person, you’ll attract customers and clients – just by being you. So being the face of your business really does matter. Focusing on nothing but the big bucks is not good business practice: leading by example, being resilient, accepting feedback and working with others is.
I am truly not impressed by money, social status or job titles. I am impressed by kindness, innovation, and respect. Every day, I work harder to be the best version of myself. It takes perseverance, but it pays off, for your business, and your wellbeing.