Jeremy Harper

Next month, it will be seven years since we started our business, writes Eve Communications’ director Ben Pike.

That’s insane.

I found myself thinking about this when I came across a photo I took for Wood-Mizer UK. It’s nothing special, but was the first commission we ever received for video, photography and copywriting. We had done all of these jobs in isolation before but never all three in one go. I had to do it all myself in three hours on a Monday morning, and I was terrified.

I shot it on a £200 Nikon 3200 camera and had a dictaphone, pen and paper. That’s all it took to turn around what is quite a big piece of work.

Thankfully, Jeremy Harper was the loveliest man you could wish to interview and was just so happy that we were taking an interest in his beautiful living arbor.

You can read the story and see the pictures here and watch the video below.

We started this business as a lifestyle choice.

While extremely grateful for the opportunities that came our way in regular employment, we reached a tipping point when, frankly, the rewards didn’t justify the effort.

If you’re thinking of starting a business – and I mean any kind of business, big time or small fry – I implore you to do it.

Don’t talk about it, or even think about it too much – just do it.

(Caveat: maybe talk to your partner or spouse first).

We talked about starting up on our own for ages, to the point that we began boring ourselves.

It’s your rational mind that puts the brakes on.

Where will my clients come from? What if I don’t make enough money to pay the bills? What if I’m not as good as I think I am? What if I play computer games instead of working? How will I stop myself from looking at Rightmove all day?

This was my first ever commission from Farmers Weekly in October 2013. I was so scared. It took days and days to write this.

Ben Pike's first ever Farmers Weekly article in October 2013

In reality, you’ll be so scared of failure that you’ll put everything you’ve got into succeeding. You’ll find a way to make it work.

And if your idea doesn’t work, so what? Think of another one or go and get another job. The world won’t stop spinning.

Every experience will be different, but here are a few things we have learnt.

  1. Don’t overthink it. Some of the best business ideas are the simplest.
  2. Ask the people you respect for help. You’ll be amazed by how helpful they are at giving you a leg-up to get going.
  3. Throw yourself in. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and you’ll soon learn what you’re capable of.
  4. Know your worth. You’ll be keen to show what you can do, but don’t let anyone take advantage of your skills. Get paid.
  5. Have a plan. Set yourself goals – sales, income, new customer targets – anything that you can measure.
  6. Find a balance. Working for yourself is rewarding but it’s hard to stop. Set your hours, take holidays and don’t feel guilty about having a morning off if you need it.
  7. Work with people you like. Yes, you want clients. But if they’re not a good fit for you, find someone else. This is your business and you decide who you work with.
  8. Find your niche. This isn’t applicable to everyone, but being experts in agriculture and rural affairs has helped us carve out a niche. If you can specialise, your sales pitch and your target audience is more defined.

You should also accept that you will have good days and bad days, and don’t sweat it too much.

We have won big client pitches and celebrated with champagne. We have lost major customers and drowned our sorrows with gin.

It’s all part of the ride, but it’s your ride now and you get to choose where to go next.

 

 

 

 

 

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