On 23rd September 2020 Lightning Transformations Ltd celebrated its fifth birthday. With 20% of businesses closing in their first year and a massive 60% failing within their first three years1, our team is immensely proud of what we have achieved so far. We decided to reflect on our first five years in business– we’ve learnt a great deal, refined our processes and had a great deal of fun along the way! With the Covid-19 pandemic giving many people an opportunity to re-evaluate their future and create new business start-ups we wanted to share our own story to provide a little inspiration to those thinking of starting out.
Why did we start Lightning Transformations?
Back in the Autumn of 2015, after years of working in the marketing industry, our founders noted that businesses would often place different aspects of their marketing with so many different agencies that the overall message would eventually become disjointed. Worse still, many agencies were only interested in selling one particular marketing service or communication tool whether or not it was the best one for the client to be using – ultimately, they just wanted to sell more of whatever they had available to sell! In other cases, agencies had tried to diversify but those services that fell outside their core competence would be poorly executed. We saw this leading to a high churn rate of clients among marketing agencies where so much of a client’s marketing spend was wasted without a good return on investment (ROI).
In September 2015 following the unfortunate, sudden closure of the franchised marketing business they had been working for, our founders were immediately left out of work for just two days before deciding to launch Lightning Transformations with a very clear vision. We wanted to create an agency with experts in their respective fields that could competently deliver both digital marketing and offline marketing services to clients under one roof. Clients would be offered bespoke marketing support packages tailored to the needs of their business; those marketing communication tools most likely to deliver tangible results and the best possible return on investment for them. Setting us further apart from most digital only competitors was the ability to deliver a range of high-quality B2B telemarketing services inhouse, complementing our digital lead generation techniques and providing the final step required to get many of our B2B clients in front of their target prospects.
Five years on, we can safely say that our approach has been a great success. We have developed a fantastic portfolio of clients across many industry sectors who enjoy working with us long-term. Our client base is small but growing steadily largely by word of mouth. We have established great working relationships and eliminated the high churn rate that plagues many marketing agencies – we feel this is testament to our cost-effective approach that delivers what is best for our clients. Our team is passionate about what they do for clients, not simply lining the pockets of our agency.
What challenges have we faced so far?
Every business faces challenges but we certainly feel that we have encountered our fair share in the past five years.
Starting out – Right from the start we had to hit the ground running. Taking on a couple of clients from the agency we had worked for previously gave us a head start but also meant that we needed to get up and running immediately. We did not have deep pockets to enable us to invest in the agency either – in fact we started with an initial investment of around £400 in our first year. Through incredibly hard work and constantly re-investing the money we made back into the business, we created a team of five by the end of our first year plus a small group of very happy clients. Despite what people often say, we believe it is still possible to start a business today without a great deal of initial capital investment – you just have to be prepared to adapt and work incredibly hard to achieve your dream.
Brexit – In the summer of 2016, around nine months after starting out we awoke to find that the UK had voted to leave the EU. Operating from Cambridge at the time, in a pro-remain city and having established new software partners in EU countries, we were surprised at the outcome of the referendum. In the office the next day we discussed the potential impact on the business of this unexpected development. Although the full impact of Brexit after the transition period remains to be seen, we are pleased that we were able to continue on a positive upward trend.
Office Moves – Towards the end of our first year it became clear that our Cambridge office was no longer suitable for meeting the needs of our growing team. We expanded to much larger premises in Bury St Edmunds where we faced our next challenge a year later. Despite having a great location for accessing our clients and plenty of room to grow, we found it incredibly difficult to recruit the skills we needed to add to the existing team with such a tight labour market. Ultimately, this led us to re-considering our business model and during 2018 we enabled most of our staff to work from home using cloud-based technology. This also enabled the business to choose from a wider pool of talent less restricted by location and enabling us to continue offering a high-quality service delivered by a team of carefully selected marketing professionals. Planning these moves carefully with plenty of overlap enabled us to create a seamless transition that ensured consistency of service for our clients.
Covid-19 Pandemic –A little alarmed at the outset, we saw our workload reduce as our clients that we support in the hospitality and events sector were severely impacted by a total shutdown. Despite this, our constant ability to adapt has seen us bounce back stronger. Our established remote working processes put us in a great position to take on new clients as we came out of lockdown, whilst in-depth knowledge of digital marketing is enabling us to help clients adapt to the ‘new normal’ and communicate with their clients more effectively online.
What does the future hold for LT?
Whilst no one can be sure how long Covid-19 will have a grip on our society, Lightning Transformations is well placed to continue supporting existing clients and new customers with cost-effective, high-quality marketing services that can be delivered remotely. In fact, we see opportunities within established markets that have been shaken up by the pandemic and for inspiring young start-ups to thrive well into the future. Lightning Transformations is the perfect flexible, marketing support partner for businesses with a positive and innovative outlook. We can help you to achieve your business goals even in the most challenging times by working smarter and harder than the average marketing agency. What’s more, we are investing in our business to enhance our services in a rapidly changing market, as well as developing our brand with an exciting new look rolling out later this Autumn. Stay tuned to our website and social media channels for some exciting changes coming soon!
We have had an amazing five years and we would like to thank all of our customers and team members, past and present, for their contributions to making our business a success. Here’s to the next five years!
1https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/24/start-ups-across-uk-going-bust-need-careful-management-economy/ in https://dcincubator.co.uk/blog/60-of-new-businesses-fail-in-the-first-3-years-heres-why/