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Case study


My board showed me the power of planning for driving sales

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Anne’s expert board members showed her how to plan her time, target customers effectively, and achieve the growth she dreamed of.

Anne Githu’s lifelong love of storytelling led her to found Sustainow Media Lab in 2021. Eager to achieve her growth goals, she was looking for experienced business professionals to guide her on the journey.

Having moved to the UK and got her master’s degree in 2020, Anne knew she wanted to own a business, and assumed her background in marketing would mean she would start an agency:

“I’d done research on climate change, the negotiations and the COP system, and I got pulled into really understanding sustainability. I grew up in Kenya, so it pulled me back to being young and seeing the challenges that people have that could be solved if information was shared more widely. That’s when I decided to combine the two.”

While living in Manchester, Anne joined an organisation called Black United Representation Network, who are partners of Be the Business. “So they talked to me about the Strive programme, and I thought ‘this is what I need’,” she said.

Embarking on the one-year mentorship “revolutionised” Anne’s business. “The more I talked to them and the more I implemented the plans, and also at the same time learning about the market and how to do business, things really got better,” she recalled.

Gaining business confidence

Anne said that one of her board members, a business coach, offered valuable support with managing the demands of entrepreneurship.

I used to wake up and freeze because there was too much to do. We went down to creating a calendar for a day or for a week with what I needed to do, and the more I followed the schedule the more it made sense. I was really eager to fix things, so was quick to implement the help I was getting, and it’s really improved things for me.

From an operational perspective, the board’s advice to get an accounting system was another turning point.

“I was using Excel and trying to do my invoices! It’s helped me to learn about business finance as well as my accountant being able to go in and pull data. I’m not there yet, but I feel more confident, I’m not confused about when I need an invoice or a purchase order, and can check my turnover and sales and things like that,” Anne told us.

Mastering lead generation

Anne explained that she’s always worked in marketing but mostly in retail, so found the pivot to marketing to businesses challenging.

It was really useful to have someone come in and say, ‘these are the sort of clients to target’, and start thinking about why clients would give me their money and what needs I need to satisfy

Anne worked with her board to devise a system for targeting potential customers. “Before I was just thinking, ‘they’re a nice company, I’ll approach them’ or ‘I know someone who works there so let’s talk to them’. It was really unstructured. We came up with a system in Excel to identify high-value clients and how we would approach them.”

Using this list to decide who to target, Anne and her board planned the next step. “We did a structure of, how many of the target market do I need to approach within a certain time, and how many clients do we need to say we have a good pipeline? Once I had that, I knew what my goal would be for the month, or the quarter, or the year.”

The work on time management Anne had done with her board came into its own with this customer segmentation project. “I need to put in certain hours every week to meet my target, and I couldn’t get the time before but now I’ve started productivity planning, I can see I do have time, and I even have time to take a walk,” she explained.

A “life-changing” experience

“What I’m seeing is I’m making money, I’m profitable! I’ll soon be starting my third year in business and my struggle isn’t getting a client, because I’ve done so much prospecting based on the new schedule. My problem is now actually having the capacity to deliver, so it’s a new problem to solve but it’s much nicer than the problem of getting no business,” she said.

She continued that finding her focus with the board has “programmed her mind to think about the business and how to move forward”.

“Creative people tend to run away with the ideas and forget the business. Having somebody who brings you back to the process is helpful, they’re not forcing you to do it, but they have an expectation that you’re going to do the journey together,” she said.

Anne’s advice to other entrepreneurs is simple: “Don’t let the opportunity pass, if this programme is available to you.”

Want your own board of expert advisors to help you drive your business forward? Be the Business’s Strive programme offers support to ethnic minority business owners from small and medium-sized businesses – find out more about our Strive programme here.

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