On the up Fred Heritage · 27 May 2016
Always Possible: Working with innovative companies for the greater good
Currently six months in to a mentoring journey with the Natwest’s Entrepreneurial Spark initiative, Always Possible founder Richard Freeman couldnt be happier. The well-connected Brighton-based entrepreneur set up his optimistic catalyst? agency last year to provide operational support, management training and thought leadership services to organisations across the South East. His clients ranging in size and scope span the broad arenas of education, business, technology, the arts, government and the third sector. Business Advice met Freeman to find out how Entrepreneurial Spark’s input has helped give his company structure and provide him with a clear vision. (1) Who are you and what’s your business? Im Richard Freeman, founder of Always Possible. Were a catalyst agency supporting culturally and socially innovative organisations in the South East. We provide management training, leadership and productivity programmes, research and consultancy, product development and project management services to organisations of all types, so long as they have innovation at their core and want to change things for the greater good. (2) How long have you been around for I incorporated Always Possible as a business in July last year, but had been operating under my own name as a consultant for six months before that. Id spent 15 years in the education sector, working with a range of non-profit organisations on government-funded community projects. I started in theatre workshops, then moved to the charity sector before focussing on youth work developing strategies with local London authorities to give opportunities to vulnerable young people. I moved to Brighton where I became the operations manager for training provider DV8, engaging school pupils in theatre, music and visual arts. Overseeing a team of 36 staff, I quickly became bogged down in admin, compliance and worries about staff retention and funding. I realised that Id spotted similar issues in all the organisations Id worked at previously, and knew there could be more efficient ways of running socially and culturally concerned enterprises. I wanted to get under the skin of these organisations to help resolve some of their issues, that’s when I became a part-time consultant for my old employer and began laying the foundations for Always Possible. (3) How do you make money? We make money through direct consultancy, training programs and workshops. We also develop specific products for partner organisations like websites and resource material, for which they pay a fee. We also offer retained consultancy, whereby we coach business owners in management and leadership. I suppose that organisations pay us for our connections. A charity, for example, might want to work in a different market, or be visible to different funders. We can help broker those new conversations and offer advice and guidance where necessary. (4) What makes you different and why should people take notice? We are not a one-size-fits-all management consultancy. Many of these firms will have rigid practices and specific processes that they stick to, and leave organisations with a long list of things to do rather than work with them to help resolve specific issues. Our clients don’t always know what they want to begin with, they just know they need help. We work on a human level with business leaders to unpick what the issues are, then let them to take baby steps to get around them. We appreciate each venture works differently, and our huge network of partners means that if we can’t help resolve something, well know someone who can. it’s why people recommend us and turn to us first.? (5) What was key in terms of getting started? For me, going from full-time to part-time work at my former company gave me the chance to build better and stronger relationships with a wider network of partners. It allowed me to hone what we can offer. I sought funding for a series of leadership workshops, which funded the first six months of the business. That first six months represented a testing phase, after which I could see how well the business would be received. Clients liked that we werent selling ready-made solutions to problems. (6) How has Entrepreneurial Spark supported you so far and what is most useful about the initiative?
ABOUT THE EXPERTFred Heritage
Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.