Monthly Business Review: January 2019

Monthly Business Review: January 2019 by business consultant and former CEO, Denyse Whillier | Built To Succeed

I've heard a lot of people say how January was such a long month; that it dragged on and on. Personally, I can't believe the month is almost over, not least because I haven't got half the things on my 'to do' list done! How was your January? Too long or too short?

What I love about writing these monthly business reviews is how they allow me to press pause and think about the past month and take a moment to be proud of what my clients and I have achieved. It’s a lovely record to have at the end of the year when I come to do my own annual review.


It’s the best feeling to start the year with a new client! I’m a huge fan of the Harbour Hotels so you can imagine how excited I am to be starting work this month with an independent hotel and restaurant in the town where I grew up. As a child, we used to go there for afternoon tea on special occasions, so this project is especially meaningful to me! With an Executive Chef who trained at Brighton’s prestigious Grand Hotel, a large Waitrose in town reflective of the changing demographic and exciting plans to develop a water-sports lagoon, there’s a unique opportunity for the restaurant to position itself as  the market leader in a competitive and challenging industry. This is a project I’m hugely excited about.

Meanwhile I’ve been working with another client on a business plan to run corporate surf retreats. We’ve prepared financial projections to assess the viability of the venture, drafted a Founders Agreement (as this will be a partnership between two brothers) and written the business plan. The next steps are to test the feasibility of the idea with a pilot and put up a website. Having seen the brothers’ photographs of longboard surfing at sunset, I can see the makings of a stunning brand identity.

Talking of stunning photographs, I’ve been helping one of my start-up clients, a super talented young joiner, to put together his website and brochure. The first thing we did was arrange for commercial photographer, Simon Eldon, who is conveniently based in East Sussex, to spend a day taking a library of shots we can use across the digital and print medium. There’s a small selection of photographs from the shoot up on Instagram which showcase Sam’s amazing talent.

Next month, Simon will also be taking photographs for Whitebox, the company where I’m a part-time MD. The current website is holding the business back in s many ways so we’ve made the decision to invest in really high-calibre commercial photography. As I’ve been working on the wireframe and content for the new website, I’ve been thinking about the story we want to convey, the feeling we want to create and the list of shots we’ll need. My aim is to have the new website go live by the end of February and show you what we’ve created in February’s Monthly Business Review.

Earlier this month, I spent the morning with another inspirational young founder and winner of the start-up category at Adur & Worthing Business Awards in November, Kerry of Wannado Street Dance. We planned out a programme of workshops and events for the year, and spent some time thinking about where best to host her second dance ‘showcase.’ Just think of the logistics involved with putting on a show with 70+ children from 4 years to teens! You can find photographs from last year’s amazing, inaugural event on the Wannado Street Dance Instagram page.


My own business development has been focused on five key areas:

  1. Deepening my understanding of my target market – purpose-led entrepreneurs. I’ve been busy writing out very detailed customer muses.

  2. Going to events where I can meet more people from my target market. A big shout out to Georgina Burrows of the Great Little Events Company and founder of the 9% Event. I went to her January event and it didn’t disappoint. Named after the current UK gender pay gap, the 9% Event runs structured, smart networking events for women in Brighton, providing a platform for inspiring women who have achieved success in any industry to discuss their journey in an engaging, entertaining and informal way. 

  3. Getting my website and journal to where I want it to be. It’s been a MASSIVE labour of love, I wrote about my decision to migrate over to Squarespace here.

  4. Finding a photographer who can provide me with my own library of bespoke imagery so that I can move away from stock photographs. More on this next month!

  5. Starting a series of articles called The Weekend Edit in which I round up some of my favourite articles of the week for reading over coffee and croissants.

In terms of my blog, everything’s pretty much back to normal. The days for posts are every Tuesday (Monday just wasn’t working for me as I ended up just manically typing it every Sunday evening!) and Thursdays. The Weekend Edit is published on Saturday mornings.

This year I will be focusing my writing on how to start and grow a purpose-led business. My article, So What Exactly Is A Purpose-Led Business?, resonated so much with you that I want to carry on in this vein, writing about practical ways you can develop your purpose-led business.


Read: Michelle Obama's Becoming, Blake Mycowskie's Start Something That Matters and The Story of Green & Blacks by Craig Sams and Josephine Fairley.

An unexpected benefit of reading The Story Of Green & Blacks was learning that chocolate contains copper, an important co-factor in preventing anaemia, a condition I have. An excellent excuse to buy 70% cocoa chocolate bars!

Listened To:  Ólafur Arnalds' Living Room Songs. An Icelandic multi-instrumentalist, Arnalds is best-known for creating the haunting backdrop to the British Drama series, Broadchurch. His music makes a perfect backdrop when I’m writing in the evenings.

Watched: Vice and Green Book.

Unrecognisable under a doughy layer of prosthetics, Christian Bale's brilliant performance as Dick Cheney, the former US Vice President who liked to operate from the shadows, is definitely Oscar-worthy.  As is Amy Adams' chilling portrayal of his wife, the author, academic and former talk show host Lynne Cheney.

A sharp contrast to Vice, Vigo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali both give fabulous performances in the Green Book, a feel-good road-trip drama that's part buddy comedy, part history lesson, and part social commentary on friendship and race.

Bought: A gorgeous upcycled desk from one of my favourite shops, The Living Room in Shoreham-By-Sea. You can just see a corner of my desk in this picture from their Instagram account.

Listened to: Kathryn Jacob, he CEO of cinema advertising giant Pearl & Dean, Kelly Snook, Professor of Media Arts Technology and former NASA research scientist and Jan Gooding, Chair of Stonewall, at The 9% Event - To Equality & Beyond.


I can’t conclude this article without mentioning a new campaign, Lead Not Leave, launched just this Monday by Gina Miller, Lord Saatchi and Baroness Kennedy. If you’ve been despairing about Brexit – as I have – the campaign offers a constructive way forward that will allow the United Kingdom to lead - and not to follow - Europe. If only there is the political will to grasp the nettle…

Find out more about Gina Miller’s campaign by visiting the Lead Not Leave website.


How was your month? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share let me know in the comments box below.


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