Charles Berry is the one of the directors at Zing Events. I invited him over to YHP to share some of his experiences, advices and tips to first time entrepreneurs.
Hi Charles, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Very well thank you.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
Sure thing, I am the co-Director of Zing Events Limited based in Hertford, north of London. Although my background is Psychology - I have been working in the Corporate event and Team Building industry for many years now.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
Zing Events Limited was a brainchild of both Andy Wells (co-Director) and mine for several years, as our experiences in working for a wide variety of event companies as Event Managers inspired us to create an Event Management company that addressed what we believed to be shortfalls - and ultimately add a little bit of 'Zing to what we felt had become rather bland industry.
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
The hardest part of starting any business from scratch has to be generating business as quickly as possible to generate funds; websites, office space, marketing, SEO and event equipment can soon add up! Cash flow is key!
In more detail, please explain Zing Events? And what are you trying to solve with it?
Having worked for years as Freelance Event Managers for most of the big names in the Corporate Events and Team Building sector, it is natural to develop an opinion of how things can be better planned and better delivered so that it is ultimately a far superior experience for everybody that has been part of the 'event'. Hence, this was our motivation - to create a company that can pool over 15 years of Corporate Event experience and deliver a new era of events, that provide both value-for-money and a genuine ROI for all of our clients.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
I think there is a common misconception that it is necessary to secure bank loans before a business can be started; whilst in certain industries this may be the case, our belief is that if your products are enticing, widely marketed and priced correctly then inevitably the business will be successful. Fortunately for Zing Events, we were able to 'bridge-the-gap' between creating the business and becoming buoyant with directors loans.
What advices would you give to entrepreneurs looking to raise funds for their startups?
A business plan is absolutely essential. Sit down and calculate exactly what you intend to spend the money on. Utilise all of the resources available to you such as your local business advisors in high street banks. Until you have started generating money - keep risky or speculative investments to minimum, if at all; only spend on absolute essentials. Cash-flow is key! Starting a business does not have all the glamour attached to it that is often believed - the first year at least is about keeping overheads to an absolute minimum and spending any profits on reinvestments rather than bonuses or often even wages.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
Starting a business is an emotional roller-coaster; the highs are euphoric and more rewarding than anything you'll ever experience, yet the lows can be disheartening and make you feel that you're trying to achieve the impossible. When we first created Zing Events we did not have an 'identity' as such - but before long and thanks to our fantastic designers our logo our website soon took shape and we had what we feel is a refreshing image.
How did you initially get traction?
We used every available free form of marketing at our disposal, such as blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MailChimp and LinkedIn - and then the phone started ringing.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
We have grown the business by regularly reinvesting profits into bigger and better events and equipment. In turn, we have been well placed to create and deliver impressive events that surpass our original ideas.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
The most rewarding part of Zing Events has to be the incredible feedback we continue to receive from some of the biggest Pharmaceutical, Banking, Legal and Energy companies in the world to name but a few. And from a purely business perspective, our sales sheet goes from strength to strength, with an increasing amount of repeat business.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the Zing Events team for 2013?
We have lots of fantastic new event concepts in the pipeline, including Team Building events that utilise the Apple iPad - and they will be launched in the later parts of 2013; furthermore, we have a whole range of new promotional videos which are due to go live within the next few days, and we hope video with be a great springboard to boost sales ahead of the usual boring and generic .pdf document.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Make sure the business model supports good cash flow, make sure your business stands out from the crowd, and learn as much as you can from other successful business out there.