February. The shortest month. But for me, it has always been a pivotal one. After the highs of December (parties, presents, prosecco) and the lows of January (darkness, downpours and devastating visa bills…) it always feels like an important time of year. Time to take stock; time to review what has gone before; time to make plans for the year ahead…

This year, it feels even more important than usual. In April, Elton Business Support will turn the grand old age of one. It's been an incredible year so far and we've achieved so much in a short space of time, it would be easy to get caught up in the hype. But rather than get carried away we thought we'd best take some time out to reflect, review and look at our own processes and procedures. What sort of Business Support Service would we be if we didn't turn the mirror on ourselves and check our own status? 

Lights, camera, action… time for the "no-holds barred no make-up shot".

Established in April 2018, but with the official launch event in October, Elton Business Support has got off to a flying start. I have spent the last few months working with a variety of multi sector clients, including a small hotel, a solicitor's firm and a legal support services company. It's been a busy year, building relationships, seeking new partnerships and developing the company brand.

Anyone who follows me on social media (cue shameless plug – check us out on facebook, Linked In and twitter) will have seen that I've been out and about across the county (and beyond!) networking and flying the flag for Cumbrian businesses. It's been a fantastic way of making connections and a brilliant learning experience – not only helping us to spread the word, but also ensuring that we shape our offer to match customer needs. There are so many wonderful businesses operating in and around the county and I've been lucky enough to work with lots of them throughout my career. I'm delighted to be able to add Elton Business Support to the Cumbrian business family – and am looking forward to meeting and helping many more organisations over the coming months. The Cumbrian business scene is thriving and it's great to have so many people championing the local talent; the Choose Cumbria campaign, the Family Business Network, the #CumbriaDay initiative, Cumbria Tourism's #theplacetobe banner – despite the backdrop of economic challenges on a national scale, it's a great place to live and work.

 So, what does Elton Business Support actually do?

There are two main strands to our business – our mystery shopper and audit service where we can help organisations to identify their strengths and weaknesses; and our consultancy and training services, where we work with businesses to improve their procedures and staff competencies – the two go hand in hand. Our business model is based on providing insight, feedback and practical solutions, working alongside our clients in a nurturing role in order to get the best results. We give an unbiased look into a business and provide clear and jargon free feedback that can be used to help a company improve. 

We offer mystery shopping to give insight from a customer perspective, but we can also work from inside the business with employees, gaining vital insight from them too. Who knows more about the day to day running of your business than those that run it day to day on your behalf? Team members will often open up more honestly to an independent consultant and we can give a more effective insight than a generic staff survey. Once we've collected the data we can then continue to work with a business to help implement policies and procedures or work with their teams to help get the best out of them.

 Sounds good, right? Here's what some of our clients have said:

"Sam worked with different departments carrying out a series of meetings, one-to-one conversations, and anonymous staff surveys. She collated the data and compiled a clear list of findings and recommendations. It was not always an easy process, but Sam worked with all members of the team in an efficient and supportive manner, delivering excellent results"  Legal  Services Firm

"I would wholeheartedly recommend working with Sam and EBS. We didn't want to work with somebody who just said what they felt we wanted to hear. For us to improve we needed the truth and Sam has always told us 'how it is' throughout this entire process. She has been helpful and supportive to everybody involved and will not let anybody creep back into the warm fuzzy place that is their comfort zone. She continues to test us all in a very positive and encouraging way" Legal Services firm 

"Occupancy levels continue to increase through the standards we have & improved upon since EBS have worked with us" Hospitality Client 

"Having worked with EBS I would highly recommend their services should you need them. As an independent family business you can get 'bogged down' with the day to day operation and forget about the bigger picture. Within the hospitality business it is very much your 'heart & soul' you put in to the business & for us it is good to take on board feedback from an impartial guest to help you see things from the guests perspective" Hotel & Restaurant

 Next Gen Customer insight

There's also been a lot of interest in our Next Gen sector where we provide customer insight from a younger person's perspective. Within the business we have our very own 'Next Gen' associate who carries out 'view from the shop floor' audits and mystery shops, based on her (or his) customer experiences. Watch this space for a new blog where we'll share his (or her) findings!

Awards – winning them and sponsoring them

Just about this time last year I was celebrating a win at the family Business Awards, alongside my parents as part of our family business, Elton Finance. This year, my newly formed business EBS, will be in attendance as a sponsor in its own right. I'm sure it will be a great event and a lovely way to mark another milestone on our business journey. In September I celebrated being announed as a winner at the Nat West sponsored Enterprise Vision Awards, once again for my role in our family business, Elton Finance. I proudly celebrated alongside some fabulous business women from throughout North West. Our family business has been key to my success in business and the skills and experience I have gained over the years has proved invaluable as I grow EBS.

Secret to Success?

As part of a visioning meeting last week someone asked me to write down the "EBS secret to success". I thought about it long and hard. The usual answers whirred round my head. Where to start? What to say? In the end, I think what it comes down to is NOT thinking I'm an expert in everyone else's business. At first glance this might seem like a bit of a paradox. Why would anyone hire someone who isn't an expert? But ultimately the clients I work with are the experts – they just sometimes need to be reminded of that. I am simply there to give an outsider's point of view, a fresh pair of eyes, a new approach. I use that different perspective to work with the company and re-align things or introduce standards and procedures to help the business continue to move forward. We are Elton Business Support – we are there to do just that.

So, what's next?

Well that depends on you really.

If you'd like to see how we can help you, get in touch and speak to us about your needs.

If you'd like to see what we're all about, get social and follow us on our different platforms to see what we've been up to.

Or if you'd just like to hang out, get dressed up and come along to the Family Business Awards in March!

February. The shortest month. But still so much to do.