For entrepreneurs, tapping into specific business expertise can be invaluable in nurturing a business as it grows and evolves.

Welsh-based on-demand talent platform Business Butler helps business decision makers do just that by connecting them with a panel of vetted business experts through its online portal. It's a vital service in a world where face-to-face networking has been on pause since the start of 2020.

Business Butler has been supported through Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP). The AGP provides targeted support for ambitious growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Here CEO and founder Bhupinder Sidhu tells us about Business Butler's origins, the hurdles the company has overcome so far and its growth plans.

 

 

Tell us about Business Butler.
We're a young company, and I believe our growth has demonstrated the demand for what we're doing. We offer a great product and a fantastic solution to a common headache for entrepreneurs. We have experts offering more than 120 services across 15 key business areas, including accounting, financial services, marketing, and human resources. 

Our model is a two-sided one; small business users access the platform for free to seek advice. On the other side are owner-managed business consultants and service providers who pay a fee to be vetted and listed on the platform. We have franchises operating in Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, Oxford, and Richmond in the UK and Johannesburg in South Africa. We have plans to grow to more than 150 territories. 

In the six months since our official launch, more than 100 experts have joined our panel, with 80% of them receiving at least one appointment to meet or work with a new client through the Business Butler platform.

 

What are your proudest moments in business so far?
It's early days for us, but we've had plenty of moments to celebrate – opening our first franchise in Bristol, for example.

Bringing our first angel investor on board was another milestone for us. It was a confidence boost for our business model, what we're doing and what we want to achieve.

We've adapted our business model to be completely digital, and we generate high levels of traffic through a website we've built to be fast and secure for its users.

 

What challenges have you faced in business?
It's been a challenge raising the finance we need to grow the business at the rate we want to. I want to capitalise on the gap in the market and accelerate our digital transformation, so time has been of the essence for us!

Developing our technology and securing the investment we needed to rent suitable office space were other hurdles for us in our early days.

 

The pandemic has presented opportunities, as well as challenges for us.

Recruiting experts has been more difficult because of the pandemic, and we are pioneering the future of networking and businesses development. It takes visionary business owners to be the early adopters. Many business owners have had to turn to digital platforms for the first time, which has created new opportunities. It's attracted users who want to meet an expert remotely and attracted experts who need a digital solution to meet new clients.

I believe it will be a long-term benefit that small businesses have accelerated their digital adoption through the lockdown.

 

If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
We would have tried to raise money more quickly to speed up our growth. And with that funding, we'd have been able to invest more heavily in developing technology earlier in our business cycle instead of learning more organically over an extended period of time.

I think we'd have also trusted our instincts within the business over the franchise model we've developed rather than listening to external advice.

 

 

How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
Business Butler has been supported and enhanced significantly by Business Wales AGP.

The programme has supported us with access to finance and grant funding. We've also accessed support with IT digital systems and franchising.

In addition, the Business Wales AGP webinars on LinkedIn and Facebook have been beneficial during the pandemic.

I'd urge any entrepreneur with a great idea and growth ambitions to access the support and expertise available through the Business Wales AGP.

 

What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?

● Invest time and resources in developing key external partnerships – be as rigorous when selecting them as you would be when recruiting new members of your team.

● Never assume what clients/customers want. Ask them and keep asking them. Use the feedback to align your products and services with them. Carry out evaluation and customer satisfaction surveys all the time.

● Automate everything you can – research the software available and take advantage of it to keep costs down and enhance efficiency.

● Don't invest in expensive offices unless you need them.

● Build local eco-systems which ensure sustainability and help efficiency.

 

 

To learn more about Business Butler, visit here.

Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme

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