At All Together, our goal is to give the CEOs and founders of British SMEs access to the advice they need to build better businesses. One of the core services we offer to facilitate this is our one-to-one mentoring, where we connect members with our Volunteer Advisors, who are all the current and former CEOs, MDs, and founders of some of the UK’s biggest brands.
A particularly fruitful connection we made took place last year, between Daedal Founder, Marc Warburton and our experienced Volunteer Advisor, Andy Clark, who was previously Managing Director of the renowned IT consultancy group, Accenture. Twelve months later, we delve into their relationship to see how Andy’s advice and support has helped Marc take his business to the next level.
When Marc signed up to All Together, he was seeking guidance for his startup, Daedal. “Daedal is an e-commerce consultancy specialising in the CPG industry”, Marc explained when we caught up with him. “We provide a mixture of training and strategy for businesses looking to improve the effectiveness of their digital revenue streams.”
Although Daedal had been trading for three and a half years under Marc’s leadership at this point, the business faced challenges in two key areas. “Breaking into the boardroom was a big one”, said Marc, “because the other firms in my space, like McKinsey, had all been trading for a long time, so they had existing relationships with senior contacts in the businesses I wanted to work with.” This spelled lost business for Marc because potential clients would often rather work with companies they were familiar with, even though Daedal’s service might have been more effective for them.
Marc Warburton’s CV//
2015-Present // Founder and CEO – Daedal
2014-2015 // Head of Digital and Trade Marketing – Pukka Herbs
2013-2014 // Head of eBusiness – Danone
2009-2013 // Various – United Biscuits
2007-2009 // Corporate Marketing Manager – Kraft Foods
Secondly, Daedal was experiencing difficulties with scaling capacity to meet demand. “A few people in my business were basically freelancers”, Marc shared, “and I wasn’t sure whether I should’ve been hiring full-time or not, instead.” The flexibility freelancers offered was attractive, but when demand increased unexpectedly, Marc sometimes faced issues in finding an available freelancer at short notice.
Andy Clark’s CV//
2021-Present // Business Advisor – All Together/Freelance
2004-2021 // Managing Director – Accenture
2001-2004 // Business Development Manager – Computacenter
1996-2001 // Business Development Manager – Unisys
1984-1996 // Business Development Manager – ICL Fujitsu
The Mentorship Journey
When All Together first introduced Marc and Andy, the two quickly found common ground. “Although Andy only knew the basics about digital commerce and CPG, he had been a senior official at Accenture, and so he was extremely well-equipped when it came to consulting”, Marc clarified.
To kick off their mentorship journey, Andy set up six virtual meetings, each focused on specific aspects of Daedal’s operation, such as financials, team management, product offerings, and marketing strategy. “A week or so before each session, Andy asked me to send him the relevant information on each subject”, Marc remembered, “and we used that to stimulate conversation where he would give me pointers and suggestions.”
Breaking into the Boardroom
Establishing connections with senior figures in their respective industries is a challenge most small businesses face. “Bigger companies often have existing connections with senior decision-makers in potential client organisations”, Andy admitted, “which makes it difficult for newcomers like Daedal to secure deals. The reason they don’t always get attention at that CXO level is because what they’re doing is just good work, so there’s no reason for it to be visible.”
To overcome this hurdle, businesses must focus on building exposure of their products and services to get themselves noticed. The way Andy recommended Daedal did that was to adopt a four-pronged approach:
Evidence the value of the business
“We talked a lot about business value: the work Marc was doing, how it moved his clients’ businesses forward, how it created value for them, and I think the missing link was showing that to people”, Andy clarified. And so they both worked together to identify several ways to demonstrate the value of Daedal’s work. An unwavering focus on gathering recommendations from satisfied customers, conducting case studies – much like this one – and offering free or discounted consultations to prospective clients all proved useful to achieve this.
“The next step was encouraging Marc to be a bit braver when he was putting proposals in to clients”, Andy revealed. “It was a case of being prepared to commit to something specific that would have a positive effect on a particular area, like product placement, for instance.” This bold approach helped Daedal instil confidence in potential clients by painting a clear picture of the impact their products and services would have, while also demonstrating their commitment to their clients’ success.
Use all the weapons in your arsenal
“The next thing we focused on was building business with Marc’s existing clientele”, said Andy, “because it’s something like 8-10 times the amount of work to get a new client than it is to garner business from previous customers.” A large part of this came down to maintaining Daedal’s visibility with its existing network, and the easiest way to do so is something most of us use every day.
“Social media is such a great way of punching above your weight as a small business”, Andy declared. “Marc now does regular posts, and he has an edge over the bigger companies in his space because he can be very personal.” Larger organisations are hindered quite significantly on their social platforms. As hard as they might try, it’s tough for them to not be perceived as faceless corporate entities. By sharing their personal story and engaging content, smaller companies like Daedal can appear more relatable and personable than their corporate competitors, which offers a considerable edge in the digital space.
Put your network to work
Finally, Andy suggested that Marc reached out to his existing networks to see if any of his contacts knew somebody that might be interested in Daedal’s work. But, at the same time, he also recommended Marc should try to secure repeat business by getting in touch with previous contacts, especially those who had moved to new companies.
Refining the Workforce
The other main challenge Marc faced was striking the right balance between using freelancers and hiring full-time employees. While the freelance model offered flexibility and cost savings, it lacked the consistency and commitment required for long-term business growth. On the other hand, hiring full-time employees carried the risk of costly turnover and the potential for wasted resources during periods of low demand.
“It is a common problem for smaller businesses”, Andy noted. “I don’t know how many people I’ve talked to who’ve said they recruited somebody only for it not to work out. You can spend anywhere from £10-15k each time you hire somebody and six months later, they move on, so I feel for them.”
With Andy’s guidance, Marc devised a balanced approach that provided a more stable workforce while minimising cost and risk. “I’m actually on the cusp of bringing in a few people on 3-day-week, six-month contracts”, he revealed. The other benefit to this tactic is that it helps to build lasting relationships with customers because they consistently interact with the same team members. This familiarity fosters trust and encourages repeat business, which will further contribute to Daedal’s growth.
The Advantages of Advice
Marc divulged that he has observed a significant improvement in the size of contracts, clients, and revenue growth over the last twelve months. Although that success is undoubtedly down to Marc’s hard work and perseverance, both Andy and Marc agreed that their relationship has helped to expedite Daedal’s good fortunes.
“What I really wanted was a mentor who knew the industry, could appreciate the challenges I had, and could help me just work some of it out”, claimed Marc, “and Andy was definitely the right person for that.” While Andy added, “Marc’s really been a dream to work with and I think both of us really looked forward to the sessions.”
And this is a true representation of our work at All Together. Business is nothing if not about people and relationships, and our vision is not for the connections we make to just provide practical advice; we want them to foster lasting relationships that continue to support and inspire everyone involved. This has thankfully transpired in Daedal’s case, with Marc also revealing that Andy recently “volunteered to be my external sponsor for a grant to help me build a new training platform”.
We can’t thank Marc and Andy enough for taking the time to share the details of their All Together journey, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on how Daedal progresses in the future. If you would like to see some other examples of businesses we’ve worked with and how they benefitted from our membership, why not read our case studies on Black White Denim and Virtus Tech?
If your business could benefit from being connected with one of Britain’s leading business brains, apply to All Together today for up to five hours of pro bono mentoring, every year.