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Case study

I gained business knowledge to bring to my passion project

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How music producer-turned-entrepreneur Jonathan Lee’s board experience gave him the knowledge and confidence to grow his business.

Co-founder and managing director Jonathan Lee had been running Outreach Homes for three years when he began working with Be the Business. The organisation provides accommodation and specialist support for young people aged 16+, to help them transition into living independently.

“I wanted general support with how to structure a business and how to get traction in my industry. My mum has been doing foster care for 12 or 13 years, and I have worked with young people, but running a supported living facility was very new to me,” he explained.

With a background as a music producer, he said it was valuable to check he was doing the right thing, and learn how to do some things in a better way.

It gave me lots of perspectives about business as a whole, and it was really useful to get insights from people who have run their own businesses or advised other businesses.

Gaining confidence and building relationships

Jonathan recalled that while working with the board was daunting at first, it inspired his confidence as a business owner.

It was quite an intimidating idea to be on a call with very experienced business leaders and talk about my business. Even in general, speaking on calls and doing video meetings wasn’t something I was super confident about.

The board made me feel very comfortable and it helped me with my confidence to go into other calls and speak about my business.

The board members also helped him to identify important relationships he could build to further the business, and this new-found confidence inspired him to go after them.

“One board member identified local councillors I could speak to, and explained how to approach them with what the local authority needs in regards to young people and how we can meet those needs. And because of how much I value the board, I was adamant it wasn’t something I would procrastinate on doing. So I went to a local surgery and had a really good dialogue with the councillor, because there is a need for what we do.”

Maximising the team’s potential

The board’s advice helped Jonathan to structure his team in the way that works best for them, and the business.

They inspired me to think about the setup of the company and establish roles and responsibilities that align with people’s strengths and their passions, so that everyone enjoys their work and feels fulfilled. That’s had a really big impact on the organisation, ensuring that everyone works towards a common goal

“It’s helped me to manage my time too, because I’m still a music producer at my core, and I’ve found it difficult to balance that career with running Outreach Homes. So now I do things in windows, I have dedicated time to do things towards Outreach Homes and I ensure I have scheduled meetings with the team.”

Defining company values

For Jonathan, the most important outcome of working with the board was defining Outreach Homes’ company values.

“A board member sent me an activity where you select words that resonate with the organisation, and I got everyone in the business to do that independently, then come together and have a discussion. It was really interesting to talk about what we had or hadn’t chosen and why, and explore our general understanding of what our values should be,” he explained.

“It’s really helped me to understand the importance of company culture and implementing it into your DNA. So now we’ve got our core values we can think about how to implement them into how we run the organisation and the day-to-day decisions we make.”

Going above and beyond

“I’m genuinely grateful for how invested the board has been, and how they take the time to be really engaged throughout the whole call. I can tell from the questions they ask back that they really listen and care, and they put so much consideration into how they approach it. They even email and support me outside of the calls, which they don’t have to do,” Jonathan said.

“I would definitely recommend it. It’s really good for challenging yourself, and if there’s something you’re fearful of or intimidated by, that’s even more reason to partake. Because they really help to negate those issues that you’ve built up, and support you to see that it’s not as bad as you think.”

Could mentoring be what you need to overcome business challenges? Be the Business’ Strive programme offers support to ethnic minority small business owners – find out more about Strive and apply here.


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