Northern Management Services Ltd
With the perfect skills and networks to fill a gap in the lucrative SME management consultancy sector, Marsha leveraged a redundancy into an opportunity to make an impact.
After several years working in the construction industry, Marsha Armstrong identified that she had the skills and experience to support businesses in the sector to streamline their business processes and increase efficiency and profitability, spotting a gap in the market to provide her services to SMEs. Redundancy created an opportunity to realise her idea, commenting, “I had considered starting up on my own for a while and being made redundant seemed the perfect time to put my plans in action.”
Marsha found the biggest challenge of starting-up was winning business. Drawing on her strong networks in the industry to help her overcome the hurdle, she explains, “I was able to talk to business owners who knew me, and knew my capabilities, and as such were keen to make use of my services,” also highlighting the value her relationships provided on her start-up journey, “I was fortunate to have a number of contacts who I used as mentors to help guide me through the challenges that many start-up businesses face.”
A pragmatic attitude to business guides Marsha’s entrepreneurship. “My approach is that every day I work, I need to justify the cost of my time, so I always need to be making, or saving my clients money. Working in this way inspires trust and confidence,” she says, going on to highlight the real sense of success comes not from money but from the positive impact her venture makes.
“Implementing lasting change that is of real benefit to a business is a reward in itself. Helping a company achieve a standard such as ISO9001 gives a real sense of achievement; as this helps toward long-term, more customer-focused business models, as well as a potential reduction in their operating costs and a marked improvement in their potential to win future work.” She adds that the benefits within her own life are a greater work-life balance and flexibility to work as best suits her.
PNE Enterprise supported Marsha with coaching and access to finance in the pre-start and start-up phases of the business, helping her secure a weekly allowance in the business planning stages. The small but valuable injection of cash-flow allowed her to build better foundations for success, “It was good to have some money coming in prior to having my first invoice paid, as this helped towards various costs whilst I was travelling around, meeting contacts and increasing my network,” she explains.
Her advice for people wanting to make a success of their own venture is, “Know your finances! Understand what a model week looks like in terms of an ideal amount of turnover, but also stress test this, so you know if you can manage on a lower amount, and by how much.”
Always open to broaden her reach, Marsha is happy to chat with any SMEs looking to gain some extra support refining their business processes, “I’m always keen to have a cup of tea with any SME who wants to implement a back-office refresh/review or change, and would happily have a chat to see if I can help. If any readers are looking to implement ISO9001:2015, or are working towards an older version of ISO9001 and want to bring themselves up to date, I’m happy to talk! Likewise, I hope to soon have my ISO14001 qualification, and so can help businesses gain this important accreditation.”