“I would say that the catalyst moment for Sponge UK happened around five years ago,” explains Louise Pasterfield, Managing Director at Sponge UK. “I was very excited about the potential for elearning and how we could grow but did not know how to get there.
“I read a book by Michael Walsh of Kaizen Consulting called ‘Business Growth by Design’ and was so impressed that I contacted him to see if he would work with us to help us grow our business. He flew over from Canada to meet us and we decided to start working together,” explains Louise. “Having Michael as a business mentor over the past five years has significantly helped us accelerate our growth. He has even gone on to write a book all about us, ‘Thinking Big is Not Enough’ which is about the myths and misconceptions that stop business growth.”
Finance Director, Matt Whale adds “We had worked with a number of consultants before, but they never had a great deal of impact. While they all had sound advice, it was coming from a very specific viewpoint depending on who they were – financial, management, marketing – rather than really focusing on us and where we wanted to go. Once we found someone that understood us it kick-started a really exciting period of change and development."
“It completely changed the way we worked,” recalls Louise. “We improved our internal communications, put in place good recruitment practices to attract A players, defined our values and refined our processes so we could scale up production but still maintain our high quality standards that our clients expected.
“We also invested in training our employees so they are ‘go to’ people and we put in place management and leadership training and coaching for our managers. This means that our staff are always growing and pushing the limit of what is possible, which enables us to offer our clients new and innovative solutions that are at the forefront of elearning.”
From there on out, the team started to notice immediate differences. “Once we started to make changes and see the benefits, we were able to secure some funding, including that from Creative England, and then the growth started to accelerate even more,” says Matt.
“It helped us to recruit new Developers specifically for the Adapt project and to take that early initiative through to a finished project. We also built a Sales and Marketing team to expand our presence and drive sales,” he adds.
“Without that initial ‘catalyst’, I can confidently say that Sponge UK wouldn’t be in the position it is now,” says Louise. “Over the past four years we have fundamentally changed so many things about the way we work that we’re almost a different business. Thankfully we’ve been able to keep the family feel and fun atmosphere that we had when we were smaller, but operationally we are very different.
“If I was to offer one insight from this experience, it would be to recognize that as an entrepreneur, you may have great ideas, but you may not have the expertise to turn them into reality,” she continues. “So if you are really passionate about what you want, actively seek out the best experts and business mentors to help you achieve your vision.”
Ensuring you're in the right place for progression is also key, as Matt explains; “I’ve come to realise that getting the environment right for growth is incredibly important,” he suggests. “It’s like planting a seed, but failing to provide water or sunlight. You may have a talented team of people, but without the right conditions and processes in place to support them they will struggle to grow and so will your business. Taking time to get your business infrastructure right will really pay off and increase your chances of success.”
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- My Catalyst Moment
- CE Live 2016