Going Solo. 11. Lime Training and Consultancy Ltd.

My oldest solo project is Lime Training and Consultancy Ltd. (Lime)

Origins

I set Lime up in 2003. Having moved from Budapest to Cleethorpes in 2002, I was working as a barman, and as a consultant. A foreign exchange business was considering expanding into France. I had lived and worked in Paris in the same industry during the late 80’s and 90’s, and therefore made for a pretty good guide.

Talking to my client, it became apparent that I had an opportunity to sell different elements of my expertise and experience to a number of companies, as an external resource. So, I did.

Growth

The business sustained me through until the end of 2005. I never hired anyone and managed every element of the business myself. Once or twice, I was on the cusp of taking that critical step of evolving from a company of one.

I was offering training for point of sale teams and line managers. I was offering business consultancy projects (Paris for example) and management consultancy, where I was working inside a business, putting it in a position to grow. I got to the point where I needed to be in more than one place at a time. Could I have someone else provide the training, while I was business consulting?

Research

I explored the idea with clients.

The answer was unequivocally, “No.”

In a nutshell, companies were hiring me because it was me. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant. Let me explain.

I’m a good trainer. I communicate well, I enthuse and inspire. However, there are many trainers that do that. My customer service training is well designed, researched and tested. Well, there is a lot of excellent customer service training on the market.

Point of Difference

My difference was my authenticity. I was training people who worked at the counters of foreign exchange bureaux. I had been there. Night shifts opposite the Pompidou centre, Sunday afternoons in St Tropez, rainy winter days on the left bank, I’d done them. Such authenticity is not unique.

However, frontline experience, excellent material, strong delivery and multi-lingual presentation – it was rare to find that wrapped up in one person.

I realised that I could expand in scope and size, but risked undermining the very thing that customers desired. On the other hand, I could charge a premium, keep overhead low and make more money that way.

Evolution

Over the years, Lime has evolved and mostly offers anti money laundering consultancy. The principles however remain the same. When companies engage Lime, they engage me – someone who has been in the compliance hot seat across multiple jurisdictions. But that’s a tale for another post.

Next week, Money Transfer International.

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Going Solo. 10. Multiple Businesses

Multiple businesses is a side-effect of Going Solo. New projects can become an addiction.

My Journey

In Summer 2002 I got fired. My time in Central Europe came to an abrupt end. I moved from Budapest to Cleethorpes, a seaside town on the North Sea coast of England.

Consequently, I became a barman to try pay some bills and setup my first company. Stuart didn’t jump into Going Solo, he got pushed.

Lime Training and Consultancy was incorporated in February of 2003, although I had been trading as a sole trader in the second half of 2002. I was providing customer service training to the foreign exchange industry. I didn’t have a printer, so I used a print shop to put together training materials.

Money Transfer

In April 2003, my marriage broke up and I moved in with my Mum, in Cyprus. Lime spawned a Cypriot sister company. I started consulting for a local company offering MoneyGram money transfers. In 2004, I teamed up with the guy that fired me (A long story…) to setup Money Transfer International (UK) Ltd (MTI) and moved back to the UK.

Subsequently, the Cyprus company was folded up, but I kept Lime going, and it is still going now.

For 10 years, my professional life was all about MTI, until we sold the business in 2014.

stuartlennon.com

Footloose and fancy-free, I started this blog, ostensibly to record the writing of my novel. No novel yet, but I’m getting there, honest!

Pocket Notebooks

In 2016, I rediscovered my childhood passion for stationery. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was the proud owner of pocketnotebooks.co.uk, now nerosnotes.co.uk

1857

While I was diving into stationery rabbit-holes, I discovered podcasts. I got talking with TJ Cosgrove who has a healthy obsession with pencils. Somehow or other, we got to recording and releasing our talks weekly. Tonight, we will be recording episode 84.

Variety

Each of the above gives me something. Not always financial reward.

I’ll give some background on each one over the coming weeks.

Multiple businesses / projects is one way of keeping things interesting when #goingsolo.

Membership

My writing is supported by people like you. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

Working Tools 9 – Social Media

Using social media: A hot-button subject right now. One upon which, I am no expert.

Usage

As an individual, I have accounts at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Micro.blog. I have had, and probably still do own accounts at Google+, Pinterest and Vero. Nero’s Notes posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Lime Training and Consultancy posts to LinkedIn and Twitter.

This post will be be advertised on several of the above feeds. It is very possible that you, much treasured reader, came here via one of these channels. Neither of my businesses have actual shopfronts, they exist online. Whilst not the only channel available to me, online presence is important. It’s worrying therefore, that so many folk appear anti-social media at the moment.

Facebook

Honestly, I’m conflicted. Facebook, which also owns Instagram and What’s App, an app that I use for Messaging, is attracting all sorts of headlines for the wrong reasons. I’m sure that the vast majority of people at Facebook are lovely human beings, but from the outside, the company is an underhand, toxic, scary nasty thing. It lies, dissembles and ruthlessly exploits consumer ignorance or apathy to trade in private data and manipulate people for profit.

Part of me wants to publicly blow up my Facebook profile and urge everyone I know to do the same. As it’s the company that irks me, rather than the product, that means Instagram and What’s App need to go too. Just as I resolve to leave, my business voice pipes up. “What about customers?” People come to the web shop from Facebook. And from Instagram. Would those people come if there was no presence of these channels?

Twitter

Hmmmm…Twitter. Twitter is a polarised place. Frankly, often, it’s a horrible place. Navigating Twitter requires a calm mindset and an ability to ‘walk away’. I do participate in some #chats that are positive, fun and useful, but general scrolling on this platform can be fraught. Again, on a personal level, I wouldn’t miss it. I know many people see Twitter as a place that allows the far right too much platform and freedom; my own view is that none of these platforms give a hoot about one side or the other, they are purely focused on engagement – and hate, engages.

Any that follow me might be sceptical of my claims above. For someone who doesn’t like social media, I sure do post a lot on social media. That conundrum is easy, I use an app called Buffer. I will write a separate post on how I do that.

I have been trying to reconcile a position where I don’t want to be wasting time on social media, but I do want to be posting on social media. Such a position feels hypocritical.

Conclusion

Social media is neither good nor bad. It’s both. Rather than feeling that I must walk away from certain platforms, I have been working on designing an ethical use policy. I’ll post about that here too.

Living the Dream – 5. Making a living

In posts 2 & 3, I wrote how we were lucky enough to be able to assume zero revenue for the beginning of our adventure. Short-term, making a living is not a priority.

Of course, in the longer term, that’s not sustainable.

Where the time goes

Since 2003, I have been offering training and business consultancy through Lime Training and Consultancy. Latterly, this has involved increasing work in anti money laundering (AML) compliance. The UK and Cyprus are ostensibly at least, governed by the same European regulation, so my knowledge should travel well. Cyprus is an offshore financial centre, and has recently attracted increasing volumes of both Russian citizens and Russian cash. One doesn’t like to cast aspersions, but I suspect there might be some demand for AML expertise.

The Dog's Head
Neros Notes Logo

I invest a lot of time working for Nero, our miniature schnauzer, at Nero’s Notes. All work that can be done from a computer anywhere.

I write, here, and elsewhere. There remains my novel, which languishes in draft form on my hard drive and beside my desk. I plan to get that finished and published. I also intend to write and publish more.

My newest project is 1857, a podcast, that I co-host with the awesome TJ Cosgrove.

Making a living

Ultimately , I hope to be making a living from some or all of these activities.

Mags has recently launched a new venture, pursuing a long-held desire to help others. I will tell you more about that in another post.

All of our projects translate to the new home. Much of my work can be completed remotely, and Mags feels confident that she will find market locally.

Will making a living in a new country be easy? No, of course, it won’t. Just like anywhere else, making money is hard work and the challenge is not diminished by being in a foreign country and culture.

Still. It wouldn’t be any fun without a challenge, would it?