Diary of a Spark Up

October 23

Guest blog from Vicky Powell-Carden who owns RBQ Consultancy and her experience so far on this year's Spark Up programme.

I am almost at the end of week four on Spark Up and I’ve decided to reflect on the experience so far, and what I have learnt, using an array of words to do so.

Intense ( particularly boot camp - but that was expected), fun - singing our theme tune "row row row your boat" and doing the lion roaring actions, inspiring - on so many levels and lastly educational - so much knowledge , skill and techniques are being absorbed on a daily basis.

Where else, in the space of four weeks will you hear thought provoking, useful and educational speeches by Andy Whitehead, Jenny Stewart, Dan Germain, Kanya King, Lynn Siddle, Francis Maiettia, Steve Myatt, and Dale Heywood? I am filling my notebook rapidly with quotes, websites to checkout, thoughts to pursue, books to read - the list goes on!

My business RBQ Consultancy is in its very early stages of establishment. I have been trading since April, after deciding to leave my career as a senior retail buyer, to work freelance and build up a business of freelancers focusing on sourcing, product development and connecting manufacturers to buyers, and sellers to retailers. I hit the ground running picking up several new clients quickly.

My focus has been to serve them and add value to their business, saving them on their costs. In addition, like many business startups, I was treading water earning and trading but without direction and focus.

Without goals or a strategy, how was I going to grow my business?

During my panel interview for Spark Up, I was asked what I wanted to get out of the programme. My answer was FOCUS. Already, I am getting that focus. I have summarised my business in one sentence (believe me I could not do this last week) - “I save businesses money by sourcing the right product, at the right price and launching into the right market -I take the pain out of buying as direct as possible.”

Now back to those words - Pitching. That word is enough to instill fear and dread in us all, but we’re all in it together. There is no right or wrong thing to say in a pitch, and every one of us has a different story to tell and a different product to pitch. We have all changed our pitches for the better, even in such a short space of time. We are telling a story and SELLING. We are learning to be magnetic, and use gestures, movements, pauses. Did we think we would be at this stage so soon into the programme? No, but hey we are entrepreneurs - we embrace newness and challenges.

Collaboration is another good word I am liking now. Each of us is working together, helping each other, offering advice, help and a friendly smile when needed. For example, I've been weighed down with trying to rebrand my business, searching (too intensely) for a new business name that explains what I do rather than RBQ Consultancy. One of my fellow Spark Ups created the name vickypedia? Okay so it might not be one for me, but it still makes me laugh every time I think of it and it’s a great example of that warming atmosphere that Spark Up’s collaborative environment creates. My search for a name still continues though!

We are just four weeks in and I am completely impressed by Spark Up and the amount I have learned in such a short space of time. If anyone is thinking of starting a business or at the early start up stage, there is no better place to be than Spark Up…SIGN UP NOW!

Vicky Powell-Carden is the founder of RBQ Consultancy, offering on demand sourcing and product strategies to Manufacturers and Retailers. You can follow her story on twitter @RBQConsult




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RT @bangthedrumES: @SparkUpNow would this benefit any current Sparkies? t.co/5SXg4HjARn
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RT @LpoolChamber: Celebrate a night to remember. Tickets for our Annual Dinner 2016 are now on sale. t.co/vX8HL04Dhl #ThinkCreateDo…
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RT @LpoolChamber: Celebrate your business success by entering for our Strive Award as part of our Annual Dinner Awards: t.co/80Mj4k…
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RT @LpoolChamber: Do you know a young person who has made an extraordinary contribution to the success of your organisation? t.co/5…
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RT @LpoolChamber: Have you reached for new markets this year? We want you to nominate your business for our Reach Award: t.co/JvQzL…
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RT @LauraBerry86: The epitome of style well done @TheMensFinest - great to see one of our entrepreneurs smashing it @SparkUpNow t.c…
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RT @ClearlinkHR: Well @SparkUpNow at one stage I thought I may never get here... have only advertised TWO BRAND NEW JOBS today! t.c…
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RT @laad_autism: At the @AnnaKennedy1 #AKOAutismHero awards, none of this would have been possible without the fantastic @JennyStewart & al…
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RT @laad_autism: At the @AnnaKennedy1 #AKOAutismHero awards, none of this would have been possible without the fantastic @JennyStewart & al…
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