Posted: Sun 30th Apr 2023
Enterprise Nation partnered with Mastercard and Strive to deliver an online 'One Stop Shop' for entrepreneurs.
An initiative of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Strive will give 650,000 British micro and small enterprises the support they need to thrive in the digital economy over the next three years and beyond.
We're catching up with some of the business owners who have been using the initiative's Make a Plan discovery tool to find out about how it's benefited them so far.
Here, we talk to Ana Grigorovici, a brand specialist and visual identity designer who set up her own limited company so she could widen her customer base.
When and how did you make the move into owning a business?
It was five years ago when I started to do freelance work as a designer. I had to set up a limited company in order to work with big agencies. This has now evolved into a design studio that I run with other freelancers.
I set up a collaborative agency-style business for branding services with a horizontal structure, so no bosses. My clients are from the tech, start-up and arts and culture sectors.
What support, if any, did you seek when setting up your new business?
I looked for local government schemes and am currently part of a start-up programme in South London. I asked for support from my family and friends in the way of them letting me talk about it all the time!
In the early weeks and months, what went well? What didn't? How did you overcome any problems?
I overcame most of my problems by asking for advice from agency owners and hiring an accountant. Asking for advice is a skillset in its own right.
You used the Make a Plan tool. What specifically has it helped with?
The sections in the Make a Plan tool were helpful as I had them all stacked up in my head but seeing it all laid out in one neat package was useful. Some questions were starting points for things I hadn't looked at before; some good learning happened at the end of that process.
I also got very good resource kits suggested and joined a few groups. I'm yet to move into some mentorship but that will happen soon. I signed up for some webinars as well – the digital bootcamp was particularly useful.
Now you're established and looking to grow, what do you see as the next steps for your business?
I intend to spend time gathering data and really getting to know my clients and what they want from a design studio. I want to understand where they struggle in their businesses and how good and useful design can help them achieve their goals.
My mission is to give businesses and entrepreneurs the confidence to use design as part of their DNA. I'm also excited to put operational processes in place and establishing a hiring strategy.
What are your more longer-term plans?
I'm working on long-term goals now, but ideally the design studio will become a 'workshop place' where people come for business advice as well as brand services, and generally a hub for inspiration and problem-solving.
What are the most important lessons you've learned from going into business for yourself?
Time management was something people warned me about, but I never knew it would be so complex. It's such a cliché but the balance is so off at the beginning when you eat and breathe this new life you created for yourself and there isn't much left outside of work.
Another important lesson is that I realised I'm not a regular 9–5 person and I struggled so much with traditional systems before. This is more personal discovery than anything else.
Not everyone is cut out to work regular hours. Now I really love my spontaneous bursts of inspiration at 6am or 5pm on a Sunday and my restful Wednesday mornings when I get to go to galleries.
About Strive Make a Plan
Create an account, answer some quick questions about your business, get personalised feedback, then build an action plan that will help accelerate your business's growth. Take the Make a Plan tool today