Interview | Lee Lam | Startup Business Consultancy
Hey Lee. How are you? What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on building up my small business and startup business consultancy using a disruptive business model, to make sure they get top quality advice, for a good price, early enough for it to make a real difference to their growth.
That sounds interesting. How does it work?
The business consultancy is offered on a monthly retainer programme – each month there is a 90 minute planning and strategy session, but the clients then also have access to advice via WhatsApp, email or phone, as and when they need it. That real time advice just isn’t offered as part of the typical consultant or coaching package – or it is baked into the price!
Our vision is that business consultancy should be as obvious a business need as getting a printer, web designer or an accountant, so the price is comparable with those – just £200+VAT for a business with under 10 employees (although 6Prog members receive a 15% discount!). This is paid per month, with no minimum duration (although we recommend at least 6 months to really see the impact).
What feedback have you had?
We have had some terrific feedback – one client said: Lee has been a great help so far with my Start-up. From the few sessions we have had (I plan on getting more soon!), she has always asked the right questions and explored the right avenues, to challenge my current thinking and open up opportunities I wouldn’t have thought of by myself.It’s been a breath of fresh air to work with another woman, who understand the struggles us ladies sometimes find in the startup world!I would very much recommend her services to anyone interested and can’t wait for more sessions in the future! Another client gave this great feedback: Lee has been incredibly helpful and has given me great, invaluable advice. She is excellent value for money and communicates wonderful advice really clearly.She has been really accommodating and keeps in regular contact.
Any issues or challenges? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is getting people to believe it is a business model that works! So many consultancies and coaching organisations ask for significant investment – or even ask for equity! – and early startups in particular simply do not have that kind of money available.
This business model has been designed to be completely scaleable – so as the client base grows, so does the organisation to support it.But being disruptive in any industry needs a few brave souls initially to take the leap of faith and see that it is worth it.
What aspect of the business are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the support for smaller startups who typically have to rely on a lot of free advice – some would say too much! We are very protective of our clients, and eager to make sure they are supported through the early stages so they grow in confidence of their decisions, and less likely to make unplanned or unnecessary commitments. Seeing a business owner really start to own their strategy is enormously rewarding.
What did you do before this?
I’ve worked for 24 years in the Financial Services sector, typically in their Technology divisions. My most recent roles were as COO and Chief of Staff of a number of critical tech areas within the banks, and so I’m used to managing large scale financial, resource and technical problems.
The roles focus on seeing the whole picture (whereas most others will be focusing in on their particular area) and so this lends itself really well to what small businesses need from me.
Why have you taken this direction?
When I was in the corporate world, I was client side in relationships with lots of consultancies and I felt that much of the expectation was that they were there to tell you what you already knew – and I couldn’t understand how you could use that information to improve. It was important to me that my own consultancy worked differently, prepared to give tough answers to tough questions, but do so with the absolute commitment to help them solve it. You may think working with smaller businesses would mean this wasn’t necessary – but I think it is more so. Create the habit for them of hearing honest feedback to tackle problems, before they become too big to change direction easily.
Who is Lee outside of work?
I have a husband, two children and a dog, so hobbies take a real back seat! I have always been a bit of a gamer, so I enjoy playing arcade type games with my girls. I am also an avid reader, particularly of self development books and so whilst it may feel like work to others, I absolutely love it!
I try as much as possible to support the Chartwell Cancer Trust, who supported me through my own great cancer journey 4 years ago – I actually donate through the business via Work For Good, where I pledge a % of all invoices raised to them.
I also have a separate pledge set up for the charity Harrison’s Fund, which is funding research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It is a simple way for my business to match my values – that of giving back so everyone benefits.
What do you see as the next phase for your business?
The next phase is really expansion. Through these difficult times, small businesses need support more than ever – there is so much information being thrown at them! I really want to help as many small businesses as I can, and begin to build out my own business by taking on extra consultants.
I’m also looking to partner with co-working spaces to help them provide some valuable added benefits to their occupants, and make sure that as many small business continue to thrive as possible.