261. When is the Right Time to Make Big Changes in Your Business?

Welcome to episode 261 of the Make It British Podcast!

In this episode, you get the lowdown on why I ended up taking a 6 month break from podcasting. And why I’ve decided to make some big changes in my business.

There’s also some valuable advice on knowing when it’s time to make changes in your own business, and the questions you need to ask yourself before you do so.


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Hello, and welcome to episode number 261 of the Make It British cast. Well, well, well, I have got so much to update you on.


Last time I did a podcast episode was back in May May 2023. And I did episode number 260, and I said that I was gonna take a break for a few episodes because I needed To get my book written, I had a deadline to finish the 1st draft of my book and that I would be back very soon. And that was, like, nearly 6 months ago. Oh my. Has so much happened in that time that I've gotta fill you in on, and has so much not happened as well. It's funny how time can fly, isn't it? So I'm back. The podcast is most definitely back for the foreseeable future. Thank you for everyone That has reached out to say how much they missed it, how they've already got through all the other 260 episodes that are in existence, And they were waiting for more.


I've got so many new guests that are lined up to be on this next series, and I've just got so much to tell you. So here I am. I'm back. Today's episode is gonna be one that is gonna fill you in on what's been happening at Make It British over the last 6 months. It's gonna be a brutally honest episode, I think. I'm gonna tell you some of the nitty gritty of what's been going on behind the scenes in the Make It British business, And I'm also gonna pass on some advice that I would give you so that you don't make the same mistakes maybe that I have done and really what I've learned Over the last few years of running Make It British, I've got some advice for you for how to know when it's time To stop doing something in your business so that you can make room for doing something new. Like I said, there's been lots of changes that have happened at Make It British since I last recorded Those of you that follow me elsewhere, maybe you're on my newsletter list. If you're not, make sure you do get on it because I send a regular Newsletter every Sunday, and it's packed full of tips and tricks and advice for making in the UK.


So I'm gonna put the link in the show notes so that you can find the link to subscribe to the newsletter. But if you follow me on Instagram or LinkedIn actually, I've been a bit on LinkedIn recently. So I've been a bit quite on quite a lot of the platforms. So the last 6 months so at Make It British, our team was made up. Our main core team was made up of 3 people, myself, Emily, who covered the marketing and was also our community manager, And Michelle, who'd worked in various roles with me at Make It British over 5 years, most recently, she'd helped me set up my mentoring program, British Brand So there was the 3 of us and then various other freelancers and contractors doing various bits and pieces. So over the last 6 months, firstly, Emily left. She went to go and work for a charity. I don't blame her.


She was young. She was amazing. She was fantastic to work with, and it was time for her to move on elsewhere. And she really wanted to get into the charity sector. Fair enough. So she left me Just at the end of June before I was about to take the whole of July off on a holiday, which I still did, which was amazing. And then Michelle as well, she also moved on. She has left to study for a master's in sustainable fashion, leaving just me.


As you can imagine, it put the book writing on hold. The 1st draft of the book is still not finished, but it will be happening in 2024. And it also really put me a bit of a turning point of what to do with Make It British. So I have been running Make It British in various different formats for the last, what, since 2011. That's 12 years, twelve and a half years now, and had gradually accrued a team and various different parts of the business, all trying to help and support UK manufacturers and brands that make in the UK. So I had had various different products and services that I've offered over the years. When I first started out, the main service I offered was helping people to find manufacturers. I then set up a membership, which is basically Paying to advertise in a directory on the Make It British website was how that first started, and that came about in 2013.


Then, of course, I ran a trade show. When I say, of course, if you're a new listener to this podcast, you may not know that For 5, 6 years, I ran a big trade show for UK fashion and textile manufacturers, which was fantastic. We had Tens of thousands of visitors over the years. Sadly, the pandemic put paid to that. And then more recently, I have been mentoring through my British Brand Accelerator program, which I absolutely love doing, and I'll come on to that a little bit more In a minute. So by then having no team members to help me run all the different parts of the business that I had going on, I had to start thinking about, was I gonna bring in people new to pick up where the other 2 had left off? Or was it a fantastic opportunity to start really thinking about what Make It British stands for, what I want to do going forward, And how I can best help and support those businesses that I wanna work with. So the membership of Make It British, Like I said, it just started out as a directory that brands and manufacturers could pay to advertise in back in 2013 because we had so much traffic to the Make It British website, and it was a perfect opportunity to showcase the brands and manufacturers that made in the UK and drive a lot of this Traffic for people that are really looking to buy products that are made in the UK and work with UK manufacturers to drive that traffic directly from Make Working calls. We were running master classes.


We had special features for members on the Make It British website. We were putting together all this content. We were, like, basically on a content treadmill producing all this information about these amazing British And we used to put a Christmas gift guide together every year. Took Emily pretty much 2 or 3 months solid work to do this amazing gift guide. And at its peak in 2022, we had nearly 600 members of Make It British all paying us a subscription. That was split approximately 60% brands, in other words, selling directly to shoppers, consumers, and 40% manufacturers who were making products for these brands. So it meant that we had 2 totally different style of visitors coming to our website. Those people that were browsing the site looking to buy ready made products and then the other people that were coming to the site Looking for manufacturers to make their products, and it has meant over the years, the whole website has got really confusing.


It's confusing for visitors. It was confusing for members. It was confusing for me. We were trying to be everything to Everyone. And to be entirely honest with you, the whole thing was giving me a massive headache. Just the admin alone of managing the membership was colossal. Like, we had members not being able to log in because they're having trouble with their login or all these different Micropayments that were spread out across all these different platforms that were constantly failing, and so we had Member calls and master classes, which were brilliant, but they needed at least 2 team members to run them. The Christmas gift guide, like I mentioned, that was A massive thing in itself.


1 year, we had flipbooks. We used to do online events related to the gift guide. The list just goes on of all these different things that were involved. So I'm not telling you all of this to moan. Just telling you to paint a picture of how complicated behind the things the Make It British membership has become. Because it actually started out just me on my own writing a blog about Products that were made in the UK and UK manufacturers. In fact, it was specifically manufacturing focused, really, when it started did because I wanted to create something that highlighted the fact that you could still get products made in the UK. K.


And then, of course, we had copycat sites setting up. There's quite a few of them now listing British brands, lots of Other sites and directories that were trying to copy what we were doing because from the outside, you can look in at anyone else's business Some think, they're doing amazingly well. They must be making a lot of money out of that. And you don't know what's going on behind the scenes. It's like the tip of the iceberg. You only see the tip of the iceberg of what you see projected on the outside, whereas behind the scenes, You don't know what's going on. And Make It British had got very complicated behind the scenes. We were trying to do too much.


We were trying to be everything to everyone. And the I won't even start on the tech issues. The tech issues that we had, Running a site that was so big with all these members on there and the size of server, I mean, it would make your eyes Water. If I told you how much it was costing me every month just in server costs, we are talking 100 of pounds 100 of pounds Just to keep the site online because of all this content we had on there. So you could see why I needed a holiday in July to take the whole month off. It was actually perfect Timing to step back and think, what do I really wanna be doing in my business? What do I want Make It British to be? So I stepped back, and I looked at exactly what it was I wanted to be doing with Make It British. What was it that was taking up a lot of Time, but not bringing so much value, and what was it I was really enjoying doing? And one thing I was really enjoying doing Was doing the mentoring and running our British Brand Accelerator program. So working 1 to 1 and in a group with a small group of businesses who really valued the advice where I could work with them and see their businesses grow over a period of time.


And then I had look at what was it that I wasn't enjoying so much, I wasn't finding so rewarding, and that was taking up a lot of the business resources, and that, Unfortunately, was the membership. Like, Emily had been running the membership, doing all of the admin involved with it. And with her gone, It was really taking up so much of my time. And then I looked at how confusing our website was and how we had these 2 different things going on where we have people coming to our website, some of them looking for manufacturers and some of them looking to buy products, and it just didn't make sense. It was like trying to fit A square peg into a round hole. So I've taken the decision, a really, really tough decision, to Closed down our membership at Make It British to brands that were advertising on our website, which meant I had To go out to all of the brands who'd paid us a subscription to say, I'm gonna have to refund your money Because at the end of October, I'm retiring the brand directory on the Make It British website. That way, I can focus on dedicating my time to helping businesses find UK manufacturers. So the manufacturers will Stay on the Make It British website, and the British Brand Accelerator will be the part of my business that I'll be focusing on for the foreseeable future.


I'm still gonna be doing the podcast, obviously, because it fits into that, giving you advice for making in the UK and seeing behind the scenes For how it works for other brands that are making the UK. But as far as being consumer focused on our website, the people that are looking for products that are made in the UK, we would no longer be focusing on that going forward. So it has been such a tough decision. The Make It British membership, like I said, it's been running since 2013, and a lot of our members had actually Been with us for those 10 years since 2013, and it's really sad when there's a part of your business you have to finally Say it's run its course, and it's time to say goodbye. But like all good things, it must come to an end. And if you're stuck maybe with where your business is and you're thinking, is it time To actually stop doing one of the things I'm doing in order to make room for doing something else and knowing when to make that decision like, for the last 12 months or so, I've been thinking, Is it time to finally retire the Make It British membership? And I've come very close to making that decision several times, and then I've backtracked on my decision. And so I'm thinking, I wish I'd had someone who I could have sat down with and said, okay. Ask yourself these questions.


If there's something in your business that you're thinking you should stop doing, how do you know if It's the right time. So I've got some questions that I think you should ask yourself to consider whether now is the time to stop doing something in your business so that you can start making room for something else. So the first one is, is it draining resources that could be better elsewhere or on something else. So that could be in terms of people, or it could be in terms of money. In my case, it required a whole member of staff or more just to run the membership, and then the managing of that member of staff did not actually make it worthwhile. So for me, Emily leaving was the perfect opportunity to think about, do I want to bring in a new member of staff, Train them up to run an area of the business that is declining or actually use those resources somewhere else. At some point, I will bring on a new member of the team to help me somewhere in the business. But for now, I'm actually really enjoying being a solopreneur I'm thinking about where do I most need to put the resources going forward? What do I really need someone to help me do rather than just bringing someone in to manage an area of the business which was on the decline.


The thing about, is it costing you more in time and money to keep something going or to correct a product that never seems to quite be right or dealing with customer issues relating to a product or a service that you're offering, is that using up more time and money that you could actually spend elsewhere doing something useful? So what is the real cost of delivering that product or service, like, the real cost, not just the cost price. So if we're talking products now, maybe it's a product that the manufacturer's a long way away. And although they've got a great cost price, I mean, they could be overseas. Although the cost price is great, your Time or another member of your team's time visiting them, putting the issues right, dealing with the admin involved when things go when things aren't Going as planned, could that time be better spent on something working on a product or with a manufacturer where things run more smoothly? Like, what is the true cost of delivering that service or product? And for me, when I looked at the true cost of delivering that membership, it actually just didn't make sense at all. When I looked at all the admin time spent and the cost from the tech for Running the directory that we had on the website, it it just didn't make sense at all. So think about what resources is that product or service Using truly, what is that costing you, and could those resources be diverted elsewhere? The second thing to look at is, Is it stopping you from focusing on something that could be more rewarding or more profitable in the long run? As the famous saying goes, energy goes where energy flows, and I definitely think that is so true. If you're trying to Focus on too many things at once. You don't put your full focus on one particular thing.


So you're spreading yourself too thin, And you're not getting anything totally right. Everything is a little bit nearly there, not quite, half Baked. Focusing on just one thing, whether that's just 1 product or 1 category of products or 1 service, Allows you to streamline your business and really put your focus on being an expert at one thing. It's much better To do one thing really well that knows of things badly. Definitely. And I'll put my hands up and be Totally honest, I'd never felt like at Make It British, we were doing any one thing well because we were trying to do too many different things. And that was quite evident when we looked at the live chat, responses that we're getting. When we had live chat on our website, the amount of people that were telling us through that live chat, They were basically telling us that they were confused by what Make It British did when they came on the website.


So think about it. You trying to do too many things, too many different types of products, trying to be everything to everyone? And if you get rid of some of those underperforming areas, Can you make your business more efficient? Meaning, you've got more capacity to focus on what really matters, whether that is Doing something in the business that really moves the needle or even freeing up more of your time and more of your headspace to be able to do different things or just be able to relax. Which brings me on to question number 3 that you should ask yourself, is it stopping you from developing fresh ideas for new areas of your business? So in my case, I wanted to take some time off to qualify as a certified coach. Because I was doing the coaching in the British Brand accelerator program, I really wanted to make sure I was coaching everyone to the very best of my ability, and that meant signing up to learn more about how to become a certified coach, which I am now doing. But in order to do that, I needed to put in the hours, so something else had to give. So what is it in your business That could give way for you to free up time either to work on new ideas, to learn new things, or to try something new that you might find is so much more successful than what you're already doing. And then question number 4 to ask yourself is has the product or service just outrun its natural life cycle? Nothing lasts forever, And knowing when to call time on something is just as important as knowing when to try something new. Just because it's something you've always done, It doesn't mean it's something you've gotta continue to do.


And doing what you've always done means you're gonna get what you've always got, as they In other words, you won't know until you try it. But if you haven't got room to try it because you're still doing what you've already done, Then you'll never know. So knowing when something has just outrun its natural life cycle and it's time to call it a day, sometimes it's better To finish on a high than to go out on a low. Like, for instance, you might have a product that is currently 30% of your business, but originally, it was 80%. It might feel really tough to get rid of that thing that's still bringing in 30% of your revenue, but could you then find time to Bring in something new that is gonna be the new 80%, that's gonna be even better than what you're offering before. And then on a more practical note, question number 5 to ask yourself is do you have plans to sell your business at some point? Because if you are looking for investment, No investor's gonna wanna buy a business with areas that are declining. So if you can't grow that area back up again, It's better to just start something new which you can grow than try and sell a business that's on the wane. So think about long term vision for your business, does this product or service fit into it? Is there an opportunity to grow Back up again, or you're just holding on to it for sentimental reasons? Because no investor is gonna wanna buy a business that's got some legacy products that really kinda sitting there and not doing much.


Far better to have opportunities with new things you're trying that the investors can see have got a lot more Future potential. And then the final, but I think most important one, is does it bring you joy? So to coin Marie Kondo's phrase, when you think about that product or service or part of your business that you're offering, does it make you happy? Because I very much believe if you are running your own business, so you've chosen not to be in the big corporate world but do something for yourself, it's all about being happy doing what you do. You've got the choice. And if that part of your business does not bring you joy or make you happy, Can it make way for something that will? So in my case, really, really enjoying working more closely one to 1 with people, for mentoring and coaching. Whereas the membership always felt a lot more hands off. Like, we didn't spend as much time with the members. Yes. We used to have weekly member calls, but there was only a tiny fraction of the membership that actually showed up for those calls.


There was a lot of members that we never used to hear from, and that kinda made me sad. It was the same with my trade show. When I was running the trade we had thousands of visitors. I couldn't possibly help each and every one of them. So there was always people that left that trade show disappointed because they hadn't found the manufacturers they were looking for. Whereas now that I'm working with a much smaller group With the coaching, I know that I can directly help people and impact their business. So I hope if you are at that point in your business, like I was, feeling like there were some things that needed to let go in order for things to continue, That this episode and the tips I've given you today have got you thinking. Let me know if they have.


I would like to also Make clear, the Make It British website is going nowhere. Most definitely not. I have spent 12 years building up that website. The Make It British website will continue to stay. You'll see gradual changes over the next 12 months or so. It's not gonna change overnight. The only thing that's changing right now is that the brand directory is going, we will still have a place where you can find manufacturers on the website. So Make It British, and the services I offer will have a much more business to business focus rather than the business to consumer focus.


I'll be continuing to offer lots of advice On how to get your product made in the UK, where to find UK manufacturers, and which brands are making in UK and what goes on behind the scenes of their business. If you just want to buy products that are made in UK, there are tons of websites out there that doing that that have sprung up since I set up Make It British. The Made in Britain campaign is one of them, and there are also lots of ecommerce sites as well now selling Only British made goods. So if you're a consumer only, those are the places to go. I wanna focus in helping people to make in the UK. Know that was a long episode. I hope that's filled you in on what's happened and how things have changed over the last 6 months. I'm really looking forward bringing you this podcast every week.


I am gonna be doing interviews with people via video as well, so they will be going on the YouTube channel, the Make It British YouTube channel. And the best way of staying in touch with me is definitely to get on my newsletter list because I do send a weekly the email. And if you are a fan of this podcast and you've been listening for a while, I really appreciate a review on Itunes. It is One of the big things that helps tell the podcast algorithms that this podcast is worth listening to, and it pushes us up in the charts, And then it means that more people will be able to discover it and find it, and I'll be able to help more people to get their products made in the UK. So thank you so much for listening, and I'll be back again next week. Take care. Bye bye.