Bringing in help with the running of your business isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s an indication of the strength you’ve shown in realising that you need to hand over some of the day-to-day tasks in order to focus on what you do best.
And speaking of strengths – who better to call in than Vanessa Reed of Roboris? Over the past few years, Vanessa has combined her work running a manufacturing company with her training as a champion weightlifter. Now, having launched her own company, she’s ready to lift businesses across the region to a new level.
“I’ve got years of experience in business, and I know what is involved in making a business work, and for many smaller firms, there is simply too much for an owner or managing director to cope with, and so the core business suffers,” said Vanessa.
“I set up Roboris to utilise my skills as a General Manager, learnt whilst running a manufacturing company for 10 years, to provide general management services to companies that need help but can’t necessarily afford a GM right at that moment, so taking the hassle out of the operational side of the business and leaving them free to focus on their product or service.”
Roboris is Latin for strength and effectiveness. When choosing a name for her business, Vanessa wanted something that summed up what the business offered, and also reflected her passion for weightlifting, which saw her become British Masters Champion in the 55-59 kg class in 2019.
Work commitments and the coronavirus situation have seen her step back from her sport for the time being, leaving her more time to see Roboris established as a specialised partner for small to medium-sized businesses.
“I did consider offering virtual assistant services, but I soon realised that my strengths go deeper than that,” she said. “I’ve worked in manufacturing and retail and was an estate agent for 10 years, so I’ve gained a lot of experience in how businesses operate.
“What is typical is that someone sets up a business, maybe just themselves at first, but they find that they grow until they’ve got four or five people and then suddenly they are faced with tasks they hadn’t really considered. “
“Not only are these things time consuming, finding the right insurance, gaining professional accreditations, sales and marketing, facilities, HR or staying abreast of regulations when the business reaches a certain size, they’re also not what you want to be doing, because it’s not what you’re good at and so your core business begins to suffer.
“Not only that, but they suddenly find they have no time for themselves and their family, and their lives also start to suffer. They possibly daren’t take a holiday due to the worry of what they may find when they come back. The joy of running their own business is rapidly disappearing. That’s where I come in. I can look after the operational side of the business for them and also act as a sounding board so they are no longer on their own. Giving them time and breathing space to be able to take that holiday. I’m here to make their lives easier.”
Roboris’ typical client is a company with between five and 15 employees. From its base on the Bedfordshire-Cambridgeshire border, Roboris can work with clients throughout both counties, as well as Northamptonshire and the surrounding area. While face-to-face working is preferable wherever possible, virtual meetings can be arranged, considerably widening that geographical range. To begin with, Vanessa would assess the client’s needs and offer honest, hands-on practical support, then work with them to put measures in place to improve the operational side of the business.
Where Roboris can play a major role is in companies where innovation is particularly important, and also where communication needs to improve or develop.
“Sometimes, you are so close to a business that it’s difficult to step back and see the obvious, where an outsider can,” said Vanessa. “I like working with innovative companies, because they can benefit from a new person looking at things with a fresh pair of eyes, whether that is processes, marketing strategy, or whatever, and that can be invaluable.”
Once a working operational system is in place, the relationship with Roboris may well continue on a regular but less frequent basis, but the ideal outcome for Vanessa is for the company to be able to employ a General Manager, either externally or to identify someone within the business that could take over that role.
“Too many business owners think they have to do everything themselves, that leads to them being overworked and it often leads to a lack of communication with staff,” said Vanessa.
“Yes, the manager or owner is passionate about the company and about getting things right, but a lot of the time so are the staff. If you dig down, you may find someone within the team who is just as committed and has the relevant skills to take on the day-to-day management.
“It’s not about relinquishing control, it’s about choosing the right person to support you and to whom you can delegate the tasks that free you up to focus on what you do best.
“It may seem like an odd approach, but the perfect outcome for me is for my clients to get to the point where they don’t need me any more!”