This article is one of a series of interviews with University of Brighton graduate entrepreneurs. beepurple is the university’s entrepreneurship support service.

Jaffrey CronkshawName:  Jeffrey Cronkshaw

Subject studied:  BA(Hons) Computing & Information Systems

Year of graduation: 1998

Business name:  LanciaConsult

Website:  www.lanciaconsult.com

Describe your business in a few sentences

In a nutshell, we are a senior advisory company. Helping organisations with their challenging technology and business initiatives.  We operate from Singapore, Germany, and the UK – helping deliver some huge technology programmes around the world.

Where did the idea come from?

My entire career has been spent either in technology programme delivery or technology consulting, so the idea to start our own business in this field was natural. The difference was that we wanted to build a company which was Asia based (Singapore) and relentlessly focused on real experience with relevant people (that’s our brand and culture).

What makes your business unique?

I don’t think we are necessarily unique (nor that being unique matters a great deal).  We do however want to be known as one of the most impactful Asia based technology advisory firms operating globally – I don’t believe there are many others like us in that respect.

How do you market your business?

Through the work we do and the recommendations of our partners (we try not to call them clients).  Our growth to date is purely organic and through word of mouth/referral.  I’m sure one day we will start more proactive marketing but that will always be very targeted and specifically built on prior work we have completed.

What has been your biggest business challenge and how have you overcome it?

Probably scaling and maintaining a high cashflow and working capital balance.  You learn fast to focus on your cashflow and capital when building a business.

To what do you attribute your business success?

Working hard, constantly talking to partners, seeking advice, and a little bit of luck here and there.

What are your business plans for the future?

To continue to organically grow our UK, Singapore, and German operations, to expand into USA and Australia to expand our reach, and to grow our hand picked team of superb professionals.

What one piece of advice would you offer to someone starting up?

Focus hard on the product or service you are building by constantly meeting with those who will consume your product/service.  The faster and more often you do this, the faster you’ll validate, build, and grow what they need (not what you think they will need!).

What three skills are the most important for an entrepreneur to develop?

1) Learn how to read financial accounting statements, this was one of the best tips a mentor gave me years ago and something I’m still learning!  Once your business cashflow starts then this will be your number one skill area to develop.

2) Learn from mistakes and adapt, don’t dwell.  We tried a cloud technology offering in our initial year and it didn’t work out for a number of reasons.  I have that company logo on my office wall to remind me of those lessons every day and also to remind me that you can survive if you adapt.

3)  Commercial awareness – learn what an NDA is, get your terms and conditions in order, get your commercial models ready.  Nothing will scare off a customer more than being ill prepared commercially.

Any tools, resources or books you recommend?

Book – Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.  Simply one of the best books I’ve read on building a business.  You’ll be amazed and will learn what building a business is really all about.

Resources – your network and your network’s network.  Don’t be afraid to meet and talk to people in your network that you feel could give you good advice.

Tools – once you have cashflow then immediately implement tools such as Xero, Quickbooks, and Expensify in order to control and get visibility of your AR, AP, and Expenses.  These tools will save you literally weeks of effort once you start to grow.

Look out for the 2018 LanciaConsult Growth Grant Fund for Students and Alumni which will launch in the 2017/18 academic year.