While we started Masters & Harris back in 2008, 2013 has been the year that we fully focused on growing our business. From 2008 to the end of 2012, we laid the foundations for Masters & Harris, and for each of the subsidiaries; Dream On, Masters & Harris Books, Rotten Apples and Masters Bookkeeping Services.
Here is a review of our year that was 2013, the amazing people we met, and the adventures we embarked on.
It is fair to say that January was the stand out month for us; it was an example of ‘going with the flow’ and boy did it flow!
This was a month packed with meeting new people and the start of planning our third, but first big Dream On Day.
Kim interviewed Shaylesh Patel, the founder of Healthy Planet (the interview was published on our blog and on The Metro Online.) We went to Bush Hall in Shepherd’s Bush (west London) to The Carnaby’s EP launch; and Kim found Marisa Nakhi ‘The Prosperity Goddess’ who’s online courses really helped us with understanding, and developing our relationship with money.
The main highlight for January was when Kim went to an event called ‘Entrepreneurial Women: Taking the Start-Up Challenge’ which was hosted by our local MP, Mary MacLeod. Kim was a bit early, and took a seat outside the main room to wait until the start. She decided to chat to another lady who was sat outside at the same time, and it was only when things started that Kim realized that this lady was one of the key speakers. This was our introduction to Helen Roberts, Richmond Entrepreneur and Champion of StartUp Britain Richmond. Those who have been following us will know the invaluable help Helen has given us.
February was all about taking us out of our comfort zone, but we also continued to search out inspirational people to connect with and interview. One such person was Christopher Foster, who writes a blog called ‘The Happy Seeker’. The interview was published on the Dream On Blog, and The Metro online.
Our main highlight for Feb was when Helen Roberts suggested we enter a Dragons Den style competition, which was being run by StartUp Britain Richmond. It meant we had to do a short pitch to five dragons, and a room full of entrepreneurs! We were terrified, but it was one of the best things we ever did, as it made us focus on what our business is and what we do.
Due to this event, we also met some great people, who have become friends and great supporters of Dream On.
Preparations for the Dream On Day were fully underway. It was a steep learning curve as we were taking more space in the pub and had to find a selection of musicians and small businesses. We went all out and ordered two roller banners, which are our pride and joy, which we took to Twickenham Rugby Stadium for a Richmond Small Business expo.
Our relationship with StartUp Britain Richmond continued, and we were invited to a charity pub quiz, in aid of the Childs i Foundation. We went with friends, Sorrel and David Evans, who soon found out our general knowledge, was lacking, but boy could we build a paper aeroplane, which won us a giant bottle of Prosecco!
Having fun is a big part of what we try to do, and this was highlighted when we were invited to a cocktail evening by Tracy Hilliard. Tracy was raising money for Childs i Foundation on the night, and she was also running the Brighton Marathon in aid of the charity. All we can say is that our cucumber and mint cocktail did not go down too well! Guess the worlds not ready for that just yet.
The main event for us in April was our first big Dream On Day! We were very lucky to get announcements in two magazines, Absolutely Chiswick and The Waterside Resident.
Twelve stallholders and four bands came together at The Crown & Anchor for a great day of showcasing and connecting. Amongst the eighty or so people who came to the day, we were very excited that Mary MacLeod and Helen Roberts took time out of their busy schedules to come and support us.
Mary MacLeod also gave her support to The Carnabys, one of the bands that performed on the day, and who were in the heat of the Hard Rock Rising Battle of the Bands, Global Competition. They were in the final stages and needed votes to make the shortlist for the final, out of 12,000 bands!
Everything felt a bit quiet after the Dream On Day; it takes a lot of energy and planning, especially as we had never done anything like it before.
However…at the beginning of May…
There was some great news announced live on Absolute Radio; The Carnabys had won the Hard Rock Rising Competition, and would be supporting Bruce Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling. This had to go onto a Metro Blog!
One of the other bands we are supporting is Red Rose Empire, and Kim did an interview with them, which we published on the blog and The Metro. Throughout the year Paul, Paul and Rick have been great supporters of Dream On and set up the PA systems at all of our events.
May also was the time of the National Thrombosis Week, which is run by Lifeblood, the charity we are supporting. We also wrote about this on the Metro Blog.
This month also saw the last time that Kim wrote a blog for the Metro Online. We found that they were not really interested in shining a light on start-ups, new musicians and health care; they seemed more interested in football and what’s on TV. This year we are looking for alternative ways to give the community as much exposure as possible.
June was a month of building. Kim wrote more blogs, including the importance of dreams, and how to deal with dreams that don’t work out.
The main highlight was creating our YouTube Channel, where we put the videos of the live music from the Dream On Day. This was a big learning curve for us, as we had to edit the videos and then load them onto YouTube, both things we had never done before.
July was a month full of music; we went to the launch of Tom Dibb’s EP ‘Lost’, we saw Red Rose Empire perform at the Dublin Castle and at a local pub called Pickwicks, we were amongst the 2000 people who watched the Carnabys perform at Strawberry Hill House, and we watched the 17-year-old Alice Parker-Claire perform in the lead up to the Chiswick Oxjam.
The Chiswick Books for Free opened in July and kim was privileged to be invited to the opening party. Our local mayor opened the store and the I Made It Myself ladies, Sangeeta and Laura were in store teaching people how to make bath salts.
July was also special because Emma Cobbledick a copy writer and marketing specialist (and new member of the Dream On Community) wrote a piece on marketing for the Dream On Community! It’s this sort of involvement in the community that we want to encourage this year.
In August we went into full planning mode for our next Dream On Day. As is the way, we wanted it to be bigger than the last day, so came up with some new ideas. Absolutely Chiswick gave our last Dream On Day a boost in their social pages and wrote about our upcoming Dream On Day in the What’s on section.
Paul was on a mission to get us some sponsors for the day and we were delighted when the Convivial London Pub Group and Insomnia Music agreed to sponsor the event!
It was important to us to get the message of Dream On across to as many people as possible, and we were very lucky to have the help of Kate McFruin from the Crown & Anchor, who gave us lessons in Twitter. It’s more complicated than you think and Kate’s knowledge was invaluable, although I think she got a bit frustrated with our spelling abilities!
In the quest for donations on the day we even found an old whiskey box, which with a clever bit of carpentry from friends, is now a permanent fixture at our events.
We wanted to keep up with getting community members some exposure, so Kim did an interview with Laura and Sangeeta from I Made It Myself , which was published in the September edition of Absolutely Chiswick.
Our fourth Dream On Day was on the 7th of September, and it was truly a day full of inspiration, fun and community. The week before was all about telling as many people about the day as possible; Kate continued to help by handing out flyers on the High Road, something that is a bit out of our comfort zone.
On the day we filled the back room of the pub with small business showcases, live music at the front, and our Dream On Spa in the upstairs private room. There were over 90 people who came along to the day and it was great to have the support of Mary Macleod, and Helen Roberts again, as well as from Shaylesh Patel.
October was all about reaching out and connecting with other communities and like-minded individuals. Kim went along to a funding event hosted by StartUp Britain Richmond, a Go and Grow event hosted by Enterprise Nation and to ‘Taking the Start Up Challenge’ hosted by Mary Macleod in Brentford. There are so many wonderful organisations in London who are doing everything they can to help start-ups and people like us!
Insomnia Music had recently signed Janet Devlin to their label and had arranged a tour of the UK and Ireland for her. The London show was at the Jazz Café in Camden, and with Tom Dibb supporting we had to go. The VIP status was awesome!
The highlight in October was when Kim was privileged to get an interview with Emma Jones. Emma is the founder of Enterprise Nation and co-founder of StartUp Britain. You can find the interview in the January Edition of Absolutely Richmond.
November was a quiet month for us. We watched Red Rose Empire perform at Nambucca and we decided to arrange a Dream On Christmas party on the 21st December, which would be a celebration of the year and another chance to showcase the musicians.
The end of the year did not slow us down, and even saw some big changes to Masters & Harris.
Masters Bookkeeping Services became Masters Accounting & Training Solutions (MATS). Desperate to get out of the usual finance jobs, Kim decided to put the Dream On ethos into finance, and is embarking on a crusade to help small businesses and start-ups understand their finances better.
She then attended a Chiswick BNI meeting, which is a collection of local entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Despite having a small operation, Kim attended a ‘women in the business media’ event hosted by Enterprise Nation in mid December. She got to tell our story to the audience and the panel, which included Emma Jones and the small business editors for the Guardian and the Sunday Times.
The last act of the year was our Christmas party at the Crown and Anchor. It was great fun with Christmas jerseys, Christmas crackers (bad jokes and party hats included) and festive music. It was not long before we were all up and dancing.
It is safe to say we have learnt so much this year, and we really look forward to 2014 and the adventures ahead.
Probably our biggest lesson this year is the importance of connecting with people, and seeing what we can do for them, not just what they can do for us. Of course we could not have done it without the support of so many of you. Thank You, and Happy New Year!