Reflections of growing a business – “12 years and brave”Hannah
As founding Director, Stuart McFarlane-Bedford, stands down from his business career he takes a look back at the 12 years of CDI Alliance.
Exciting times in 2011
We – myself, Richard Lukey and Malcolm Warrington – started the business in 2011. We had seen a gap in the market appear and our joint experience meant that we believed we could fill that gap. This was an exciting time – buzzing with enthusiasm – we wanted to conquer the world, and believed that we could.
The initial euphoria is followed by hard work – whilst setting up a business with Companies House is easy, the structures and processes take a lot of thought and some trial and error. You realise that you know what you are good at, but you don’t know lots of other things. It’s a steep learning curve – and one that I have been on with clients many times over the past decade or so.
The reality of starting a business
The reality of starting a business is also that you don’t have a regular income anymore – the comfort of a salary has gone – and we needed to find customers fast. Together we worked hard on our external comms and developed our USP, and we started winning clients. That first contract brought back the euphoria we felt when we decided to create CDI Alliance. The feeling continued with every successive contract – there’s always a buzz on every win!
That’s not to say we won everything that we tendered for – and that can be soul destroying – but you just have to pick yourself up and look for the next opportunity. And learn from the feedback.
Sometimes the ‘downs’ are things that were beyond our control – most recently the business lockdowns due to covid restrictions. At that time the CDI Alliance business model was based on provision of client support at their premises – working with clients in their business environment; or delivering workshops in person. I thought we were dead in the water…
However, the benefit of working alongside co-Directors meant that we could support each other through these times and together we developed an online offering using readily available technology. This has now become the norm for CDI Alliance – more often than not we’ll provide support using platforms like Zoom. The positive impact of this has been less travel, and more flexibility in terms of when and how we deliver support.
I think that you need to be brave to set up and run a business – but it is the greatest job in the world and the greatest feeling in the world. Though, a word of caution, it does make you completely unemployable as you’ll never want to work for anyone else again!
Future and next career
The future for me looks very different, as I stand down as a director on 31st March 2023 and leave CDI Alliance in the hands of my fellow directors Guy and Deborah.
I am going to pursue my music interests with my wife, we have been a semi-professional acoustic duo for 8 years and have decided to live our dream as full-time musicians and song writers and, as they say, make beautiful music together playing at festivals and music venues.
Below are our contact details so it would be great if you would like, follow, and subscribe to our social media channels.
Where you can find pen & stu – york based acoustic duo
Penny – 07917 431382 & Stuart – 07714 309483
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Soundcloud – Pen and Stu https://soundcloud.com/pen-and-stu
Twitter – @penandstu https://twitter.com/penandstu
Facebook – Pen and Stu https://www.facebook.com/penandstumusic/
You Tube – Pen & Stu Music https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOg-6kdi-AKxxIed6AN95Iw
Website – https://www.musicglue.com/pen-and-stu/