The Tipping Point: A Tale To Inspire Business Start-Ups

Cartoons on post-it notes

“Things can happen all at once, and little changes can make a huge difference. “

Malcolm Gladwell

January 2011 has been quite a month. In fact it’s been Manage My Website’s busiest period by far since we started our business two years ago.

The enquiries are now coming in furiously on a daily basis. Not only from the UK where we’re based, but also countries as far flung as the USA, Egypt and Holland. We’re working on websites for retailers, charities, and even the NHS plus we’re about to partner with MODA Commerce, one of the teams behind the Mary Portas website.

It’s dawned on me that our business is on the brink of explosion.

A few years ago I read a book by Malcolm Gladwell, which some of you may have heard of, called “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”.

Gladwell tells the reader that tipping points are "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable." Gladwell defines a tipping point as a sociological term, "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point."

So what’s led to our web consultancy business to reach this key stage in our development? As Gladwell wrote, lots of little things. They may have seemed insignificant at the time, but when put together they created what we have become today and our business has reached its very own tipping point:

1.    I was made redundant from my day job just over two years ago and decided to take a risk and go solo with a web design and consultancy business called Manage My Website.

2.    I sourced talented suppliers and freelancers who I knew I could trust and work well with. My friends at Flipside Studio and Kinetic Pulse have been key to our business growth and reputation although we now use several other innovative designers and developers.

3.    I decided to keep a Journal on my website and kept it updated right from the start. All incredibly good for SEO.

4.    I’m a social animal. I immediately set up Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages and worked hard at keeping them fresh and interesting to build up a following and gain vital industry contacts as well as new clients. It’s through this that I’ve “met” Claire Jarrett and Nikki Pilkington – two like-minded, ambitious women who have truly inspired me. It's also through Twitter that I became a South West expert and blogger for Start Up Donut, which was founded by Google and Sage.

5.    I added the business to as many relevant web directories as possible (all free).

6.    I emailed every single one of my family and friends and enlisted their help in spreading the word about Manage My Website. It was through this email that we won The Cherry Closet account.

7.    With every new enquiry that came in I kept quotes as competitive as possible (sometimes taking a personal hit) to ensure that we won the project, the team had the chance to prove how good a job we could do and we could also build up a portfolio of happy customers and great work.

8.    Our team built up friendships with our clients and befriended them on Facebook. This wasn’t a calculated decision – it was a natural progression as they are all open, lovely people. We also promote their businesses as much as we can on the social media websites.

9.    We went on to work on some crucial projects that earned us a reputation for high impact, well built websites in niche markets.

10.    I never waivered from my belief that customer service is everything. I have collected as many client testimonials as possible over the two years we’ve been in business.

When it comes to Gladwell’s “three rules of epidemics” or "agents of change" I’ve realised that I probably embody all three although I’ve never really thought about it before.

He says, "The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social skills." and describes these people in the following ways:

Connectors are the people who "link us up with the world ... people with a special gift for bringing the world together."

OK I wouldn’t say what I have is a special gift, but as I said earlier, I am a social animal and love to connect people.

Mavens are "information specialists," or "people we rely upon to connect us with new information." They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others.

This is definitely something I’m obsessed by and enjoy doing on a daily basis.

Salesmen are "persuaders," charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, that makes others want to agree with them.

Again, I never realised I could sell before. But in my eyes I’m not selling to potential clients. I’m just extremely passionate about what I do and that probably shines through.

This has probably been the most heartfelt Journal entry I’ve written to date. Nobody can predict what’s around the corner, but I have a very good feeling about 2011.

I hope that I’ve inspired anyone thinking of branching out on their own that if you’re passionate about what you do, have the right skills, and work incredibly hard, you’ll reach your own tipping point.

I wish you all the luck in the world!

For an informal chat about our services, please get in touch.