I’ve owned and/or run three companies: Aispire (my own company), Plum Ethical (which I set up and sold), and Cecily Plum (my ex-wife’s company). I’ve also been chief technical advisor for an international Malaysian company, including presenting work to the Minister for Science in Malaysia.
Aispire: AI and web tech consulting company. Been active and making money since 2006.
Plum Ethical: A bag company designed to ensure every stage of the supply chain was ethical, fairtrade, and sustainable. Sold.
Cecily Plum: A pregnancy, breastfeeding and posh baby bag firm founded by my ex-wife. I provided the web technology (design, website, e-commerce, social media, etc) plus I ran the company during our divorce. Shut down because my ex-wife moved on to other projects; was quite profitable though.
And I do have a BMW, and my company did buy it for me, but it’s not quite this nice!
- What I learned — how to set up and run a company; how to stay in profit by watching cashflow vs. P&L; how to find and retain clients; the importance of expectation management; how to hire a team; how to lose a team in times of financial retraction; how to work very, very hard, and survive.
- What I did/do — AI consulting; R&D; presentations/pitches; web communications; helping set up clients’ branding and on-line presence; maintenance work; web apps.
- Plum Ethical
- What I learned — how to find and filter suppliers; why suppliers don’t always tell the truth about their products; how to time supply chains (and the shorter the chain the better); just-in-time ordering; why drop-shipping doesn’t always work best; how to sell a company.
- What I did/do — built up a supplier portfolio; how to balance loan repayments, hit-and-miss supplier order dates and customer revenue volatility; how to reach a customer segment with a message that matters to them, and rely on them to help with the marketing; learning that ‘ethical’ means a lot of different things to a lot of different people!
- Cecily Plum
- What I learned — how to build a brand from the bottom up; how a business can really make a difference to peoples’ lives; how clients can be your best ally or your worst enemy depending on how they (perceive) they are treated; that the market can change in a week so financial plans need to be very robust; that physical products can be a pain in the arse but, in the end, they can make people very happy; how to work for your wife 14hrs a day (at times) and not row (too much).
- What I did/do — devised branding; built the website (several times over five years); built/integrated the e-commerce system (twice); the importance of web communications/social media; how customer management can make life so much happier for both sides and help the bottom line.