Social Media Entrepreneurs Interviews No1 – Andy Preston

This is the first in a series of interviews with some very interesting and successful people who are actively using social media, and as expected focuses on Change:-

Name: Andy Preston                                       Twitter name: @AndyPreston

What is your main Change challenge at present?

Andy: With my company and my clients, it’s adapting to the change in market conditions down to the economy, and also coping with growth of my business.

What is your strategy for dealing with it?

Andy:  Like I’m advising all my clients – time to re-look and possibly re-engineer their businesses to cope with the change in economic conditions. There may well be less demand for a previously best-selling product or service, and it might mean ‘tweaking’ that, or launching a new product or service, specifically targeting opportunities that the change in market conditions have brought.

It’s a good time for companies to look at what’s working in their business, and what’s not – and put a strategy in place for dealing with it. For us, it’s meant more of a focus on working closer with a smaller number of clients than in the past – to focus on generating substantial results for them, rather than small pieces of training with lots of clients. That way, we’ve been able to quantify ROI very quickly and each piece of training is paying for itself immediately – giving a budget to pay for further work with the same client.

It also should be a time for many people to focus on ‘new business’, and many know they ‘should’ be doing so, but lack the knowledge, skills or motivation to do so.

As far as the ‘growth’ challenge goes, we doubled in turnover in the past 12 months, and also went from mainly a 1 person business with support to a small business of 4 people. It’s meant that processes and procedures have had to be put into place that weren’t needed before. It’s been important to get everyone to buy into the vision of the company, to understand what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what we’re trying to achieve. It’s meant a lot more focus on strategic objectives and driving those through with individual staff members.

Are you using social media as part of that strategy, if so, how?

Andy:  Yes! When I brought my new marketing person on-board, their first task was to put together a social media strategy and implementation plan. I felt we weren’t taking enough advantage of our website, blogs, twitter, facebook, linkedin, ecademy et al.

We’re now looking a putting a mix of messages out there via these methods, some social, some business and some a mix of both, to help raise awareness of what we do and how we can help people. We’re already seeing a return on the time invested in that.

What is your top Change tip?

Andy:  In the current climate, it’s the more flexible organisations that are doing the best. Sometimes that means the smaller ones, sometimes it means larger ones that are willing to ‘pioneer’ the necessary changes, to stay ahead of their competitors.

Therefore the more nimble and flexible you can be as an organisation, the better your chances of adapting to the changing market conditions you find yourself in.

What role does emotion / intuition play when you dealing with Change?

Andy:  Sometimes you have to take risks. At best some decisions to change are ‘educated guesses’ which have a lot to do with intuition and emotional intelligence, plus the ability to watch closely at the direction you’re taking and make adjustments as you go along. This is far more prevalent for organisations now than in the past.

Do you ever find Change brings unexpected gifts?

Andy:  Yes! The change in market conditions has brought more enquiries and more work for us than ever. By changing some of our offering, we’ve been able to maximise the opportunities presented to us, and we’re already up 20% on last year’s figures – which were double what we’d achieved previously, so I’m pleased with how things are going.

What thing best symbolises Change for you and why?

Andy:  The book ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ – I recommend to a lot of my clients going through a process of change. Fantastic read and short enough to make the point but ensures it gets read.

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12 Responses to “Social Media Entrepreneurs Interviews No1 – Andy Preston”

  1. Ces Loftus says:

    Hi Richard

    Great insight into embracing change for your business advantage there by Andy Preston.

    From my position as a Business Image developer I agree that change is the way forward.

    It is essential to look at your products and services again, do some research and clearly define or redefine where your best angle lies.

    Once you have identified who your most profitable target market is, whose pain you can take away and why you are the best person for them to choose,

    it is in your advantage to make sure you exploit the benefits you offer and your credibility to continue building on your great reputation.

    On a daily basis I help independent professionals and SME owners to create a business image that will work to consistently and positively promote them 24/7.

    Ambitious professionals who want to embrace change and move with what the market needs most are in a great position to “EVOLVE” their business image and attract their ‘redefined’ ideal customers, compeling them to buy into a great GENUINE product or service.

    I run a Business Image Development agency with my husband Jay and our business has evolved immensley, especially over the last 6 months.

    I think embracing CHANGE goes hand in hand with positive business development.

    Ces Loftus

  2. I loved the question about change bringing unexpected gifts. It’s basically a good kick in the pants to start doing things differently – a helpful guide saying “You know, it may have worked that way for a while but now it’s time to look at it differently.”

    I’m curious to see how others meet the challenge. For the people that I interact with, I noticed that it has switched from being all one to one based and using technology to help even more, giving people tools more than anything else.

    I like that Andy also said that it has been a good time for his team to grow. It’s actually one of the reasons that I think the virtual assistant industry is growing so quickly – now is the best time to find skilled team members.

  3. Ces,
    Allowing evolution to do its work is essential, rather than wasting time, effort and emotion arguing for the status quo. Small businesses have a clear advantage now as we can be niche players and can adapt faster than the big boys

  4. Jeff,
    Thanks for this and welcome to Change & Stuff.

    Change is necessarily an uncertain process and this is one reason we fear it as we can’t control it. However, so many people get to the other side and find that their biggest advantages have been the unplanned ones.

    With regards to using tools; I think these can be that help us very helpful to use things like Twitter but in the end it comes done to talking directly to people, but these tools can bring in random connections

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