Podcast Host: Andrew Bull of Bright Arts Agency
Special Guest: Victoria Bravery, Wearer of Many Hats: CEO of Mainyard Studios, Serial Entrepreneur, Public Speaker & Mother
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Andrew is joined by Victoria Bravery, CEO of Mainyard Studios, Serial Entrepreneur, Public Speaker & Mother. With more than 12 years of experience as an entrepreneur, she is obsessive about business and personal development. In this episode Victoria shares a proven approach for scaling a business without breaking the bank — if you’re thinking about expanding your business, this episode is a must listen.
Episode notes & resources
Victoria Bravery sees entrepreneurship as a way of life and is on a mission to guide entrepreneurs and small businesses to scale profitable organisations by providing affordable workspace and sharing knowledge and practices she has picked up along the way so far.
With more than 12 years of experience as an entrepreneur, she is obsessive about business and personal development. She views both of these elements as essential to success.
She is currently the CEO of Mainyard Studios, a company she founded with her partner in 2012. She also speaks on stage at events related to starting and growing businesses.
In 2015 she became a mother, then again in 2017 which she feels only enhanced her abilities as an entrepreneur and now tries to impart guidance and wisdom on her toughest crowd yet, her 2 year old and 4 year old sons!
Connect with her and her workspace business online:
Please note, this transcription is autogenerated, so there may be errors.
Andrew Bull 0:15
On today’s show, you’re going to get straight shooting business insights from Tori Bravery, co founder of Mainyard Studios. Now, you might be thinking, hey, Andrew, I thought this show was all about technology and technology companies, why you chatting with a founder of a co working in studio rental space. And that is a fair question. Well, my answer to you is this. If we want to grow, learn, and expand our minds, we must experience the world outside our bubbles. Too often, we just get shown the things we know about and like already, and quite frankly, on I’m not here to tell you what you want to hear, or about stuff you already know. I’m here to challenge you to help you think differently and to help you get smarter. And remember, expanding your knowledge is the number one killer play that any entrepreneur should be focused on. And besides, Mainyard Studios is not just any co working or studio rental company. It’s a very successful business with multiple studios, multiple buildings and multiple workspaces and in fact, multiple businesses. And I’m sure we can all learn something from Tory’s journey. In this episode, I’ll be chatting with her about scaling a business and community building. And let me tell you this in the current business climate, how well you do those things could make or break your business. So stay tuned to today’s show, and get ready to grow your mind and your business. Welcome to the show Tori greater have you here? Do you mind telling me a little bit about yourself and Mainyard studios?
Victoria Bravery 2:05
I’ll do my best to Yeah, without rambling on too much. My name is Tori. I am the co founder and director of Mainyard Studios, which is a shared workspace company. We’ve got co working music studios, maker space and offices across four boroughs, and with six buildings growing every day. Is that possible, Greg, and physically.
Andrew Bull 2:35
That’s brilliant. That’s brilliant. You know, it’s really you’re a real success really, as a business. I mean, I’ve been familiar with main yard for maybe three, four years now. And it’s great to see you guys going from strength to strength. So just for those of people who aren’t aware yet about what co working is and what how co working works. Can you just fill us in a little bit?
Victoria Bravery 2:54
Yeah. So co working which was the core of our business when we started it is the concept of working on your own stuff. But with other people surrounded by other people, you go into a dedicated workspace to focus more to connect with other people that are on similar journeys to you. The idea is to get people connecting, sharing knowledge and skills and then potentially working together as well.
Andrew Bull 3:24
Okay, cool. And so you provide these co working spaces. That’s the main part of your business right for people to come together and work together.
Victoria Bravery 3:32
Yeah, actually co working is the one of the smaller parts of our business now. Kind of what started the idea? It was the idea that started Mainyard Studios, through listening to what people want from us. We’ve kind of evolved and grown in that way. So we wanted to build co working space before and up to 90 there’s the top floor and the floor below the Well, so the plan was to have those two floors, which is a total of around just under 10,000 square feet, because 9000 Square Feet are all being co working desks. And while we were starting to refurbish the building, people were asking us if we were going to build music studios were like, okay, loads of people are asking us this, so maybe we should do this as well. And then after the CO working space has been up and running for about a year and a half, people started to ask us about office spaces, people from the CO working desk said scaled and we’re about to outgrow the desk space. We used to put a limit of what we still do actually have no more than three people per company in a co working desk and a co worker desks to try and balance the ecosystems. So when people with three desks companies were three desks were saying, you know, can we have more desks? We’re like, well, let’s just build some offices.
Andrew Bull 5:01
So that’s the key. You know, you’ve got shared communal, co working spaces and you’ve got more hired out offices within those spaces. Is that right?
Victoria Bravery 5:11
Yes. Yeah. And then the building next door to 90 in Hackney work, doesn’t have co working. It’s music studios, offices and creative studios.
Andrew Bull 5:23
Okay, cool. Cool. Great. And I get you know, my experience of 99 yard in Hackney work which for people who aren’t from London because they’re all just this podcast going to be from all over the world. The one of the big co working spaces for main yard is 99 yard, which is based in Hackney wick in East London. So along the scenic canal, which is good for a beer, if you’re in London at the sunny time of year.
Victoria Bravery 5:46
Andrew Bull 5:46
And so how many buildings have you got now?
Victoria Bravery 5:48
We’ve got six.
Andrew Bull 5:50
Okay, cool. Wow, cool. And so yeah, so where did it all begin there? So obviously, you didn’t start with six buildings. What were your humble beginnings,
Victoria Bravery 5:58
Humble beginnings, oh my gosh. So, humble beginnings were blood, sweat and tears beginning. So we found the 90 building, which was bacon and derelict it was in our neighbourhood and the way I mean, I lived around the corner, we’d be living there already for about five years, we moved to the area because there were really big, cheap properties. And we wanted to open a screen printing studio. So, before doing many art, one of the businesses that we had that failed, failed quite badly, was Tisha printing, screen printing. So we were always looking around in the area, other properties and came across this big building around the same time that some other needs needed to be filled. So Remy and his other partner, Bruno, who put an event company together, had just had their event space in Shoreditch shut down, they arrived and those big lock on the on the door and the council had basically taken back Well, the railway arches in the area, and it was in a railway arch. So they were looking for a new event space, found this great big building is 14,000 square feet. And we’re like, Okay, what do we do with the top two floors, which is when my eyes lit up, because I’d been reading a lot about an organisation called the Centre for Social Innovation in Canada. And this idea of building an environment that’s really conducive to people being productive, but also comfortable enough to create bonds together. And the variety of skill sets and knowledge in one space, what that can do for each individual but also as a collective, and the kind of impactful projects that can be born from those environments.
Andrew Bull 7:50
Gotcha. So like the rising tide carries all ships upwards.
Andrew Bull 7:53
Yeah, actually used that this morning. That quote.
Andrew Bull 7:58
Yeah, that’s true. I mean, you can You bring good people together then you know, hopefully they’re going to rub off on each other with some good helpful knowledge and some missing knowledge in some ways. And yeah, I found you know, I found when I because I actually was actually had a desk for a year or so, and 99 yard and during that time I met some really good people so but people are really positive and helpful and I’ve still got some friendships from that time there. So yeah, it’s a really good experience.
Victoria Bravery 8:24
That’s really nice to hear. Yeah, it’s still the friendships from this time in the space. Yeah, that’s like just, like fulfilled my life purpose.
Andrew Bull 8:32
Oh, that’s, that’s nice to hear. You so you know, you found this space. But how did you go from finding the space to getting the doors open a man that must have been a challenge? Yeah. Because the building just like this building is huge. It’s a industrial building. Is it an ex matchbox car factory? Is that right?
Victoria Bravery 8:50
It’s got the x matchbox car plaque on the outside, but it was actually a die cutting factory. So they used to make paper masks and birthday cards. Two things in there. And Christmas decorations. We they left actually a lot of the templates, the diapers and templates, which I was desperately trying to hold on to, but they ended up going into skip. I think I kept a few of them that were more on testing like monster faces and Christmas trees and things. But so it was totally derelict basically and filled with crap and size and the roof was leaking. It was giant open spaces like it needed like torching, basically and then rebuilding, which we couldn’t do. We had very limited resources. I mean, I did most of the build work ourselves 1718 hour days, seven days a week, over the good portion of the year. We managed to enrol people into our, like vision of the space in the music studios. So people started asking us for them and we managed to Sell or rent those spaces out before we even laid a piece of work to build them, which gave us a bit of capital. We also would at the weekends for raves to raise money in the building. So a temporary event notice, which would give us a licence. And it’s like a 24 hour one. So we throw the like one of the boys events on Sunday and have the licence that started on Saturday and we went out to another event promoter, and they throw their own event they’re on Saturdays. So that raised raise more money allowed us to do another week or two years worth of building. Although I was the cleanup crew after up to any event, which was really, I don’t know it could have been sold a storey but I just kept telling myself also sweeping up 5000 beer cans. It’s you doing this for a reason. Think the bigger picture. So yeah, so we’ll still needed to fill populate the the building with paint decorated furniture. Any skip open that we went past it was a look inside what can we scavenge out of this I joined a paint recycling organisation is one in Leytonstone called forest recycling projects where people take their pain that they don’t want anymore. And you can pay a subscription fee and get a certain amount of number of litres of paint. So I think it was like 100 pounds that I could get 250 litres of paint, but you basically have to use what they’ve got there. So that’s why the payments, the deco in the CO working space is the way it is because that’s the only payment that was available.
Andrew Bull 11:46
That makes total sense now.
Victoria Bravery 11:47
It’s like, okay, it’s working out. Okay, it looks all right, we can make this work.
Andrew Bull 11:54
I know I love I love the recycling. Yeah, because pain is one of those things that probably does just go to waste. So That’s really good to hear that. Okay.
Victoria Bravery 12:01
It goes mouldy. Did you know that?
Andrew Bull 12:04
It goes mouldy?
Andrew Bull 12:05
Does it really?
Victoria Bravery 12:06
The amount of paint cans that I picked up from the recycling place and brought back and opened and I was like, a layer of mould on the top. I was like, oh, OK. I can scrape on the walls.
Andrew Bull 12:21
That mixture mixture paint and mould on what they’re not good a bit.
Andrew Bull 12:27
Sad. So okay, so you’ve got your first building up and running now, and I think this is I really want to dig in a little bit with you here because a lot of people listening to the show. This podcast is targeted at people who own tech businesses are interested in technology. And so a lot of them listening to the show right now be like, Oh, why we you know, Andrew, why did you invite someone on the show who runs a co working space? It’s got nothing to do with me. And actually, I think, you know, as I would have talked about in the intro into the show, there’s actually a lot of crossovers with some of the challenges you’ve got Obviously not the mouldy paint, but with scaling your business. And that’s something that you’ve managed to do successfully. So I really want to tap into that knowledge you’ve got. So how did you go from one building to two buildings
Victoria Bravery 13:14
By doing is cost effectively as possible? Actually one of the first books I read, which might speak to your listeners is the Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Yeah, and I, when I was reading it, I was like, Oh, this is aimed at tech businesses like, what is this got to do with me? And the answer is so much if you got a business, this Lean Startup mentality is the only way that you can you can do it with any kind of scalability not using someone else’s money that isn’t expecting like I mean, I don’t even know the returns expected on on tech investments, but I imagine that probably around 20% so that’s the margin that we work with as we try and scale like to never drop below 20 That means really making some hard decisions about what we want and what we need to scale. So we always look for our end getting the best price, how can we build that into our cost structure, so that we’re delivering value to people with what we do. But then we’re also getting what we need so that we can not just be sustainable, but to scale as well. So yesterday, I was talking to a business owner who’d hired a consultant to decide part of their business for them. And for me, when I hear a startup talking about hiring a consultant, instantly, I’m like, all right. What are you doing with your money? Do you have any idea what’s going on with your budget? If you think that you can make you know, hire a consultant. But second of all, I was like, Well, what are they? You know what they do for you? And she told me and then I was like, where are they getting their information from? And she was like, Actually, I don’t know. And I was like, What? You’re hiring someone who’s giving you information. That’s basically you’re basing your business off of, and you got no idea where they get their information from. So she was like, I think I might have just wasted loads of money. So yeah, that, you know, sometimes we need to provide something for our customers for our members. And the question that we ask is, how much value is this going to deliver to them? And how much is it going to return for us? And it’s been a real shift in perspective for me personally, because when I first started mania, I found it difficult to ask people for the rent for their space. I was had a very different mindset around what what it means to to live in a universe of fair exchange and exchange of money in exchange for other services and other value. And yeah, I feel very uncomfortable about asking people for that. fees. And you know, people paid as laid chasing them up for it because it was almost like this feeling of, I guess, not not wanting to receive the money because they didn’t understand this importance in. And now as we’ve grown and even getting feedback from our first building of what our stuff our spaces do for people, what our product does for people and how it helps them and support them, then actually, I think we’re under charging people. So yeah, now main yard as a company, and the product has become something in itself, its own entity, that now I need to do everything possible so that it succeeds.
Andrew Bull 16:45
That makes sense.
Victoria Bravery 16:46
You know, an empire the best team and train them the best and give them what they need to perform the best. So that main yard does bed and then everyone that benefits from main yard also progresses as well. Like you said, again, you know Rising Tide or ships?
Andrew Bull 17:01
Yeah, yeah. I mean, you’ve got a model responsibility to keep your business sustainable, so you can help to sustain everyone else who’s associated with it. Yeah, you know, and I think that’s a big thing that we saw entrepreneurs have to, especially as maybe once you come from creative backgrounds as well. So, you know, it sounds like with the screen printing and so on, you’re coming from that not necessarily a hard money background. And so I think that’s what we have to adjust to be okay with charging a fair amount and also the right amount of people and I’m glad that you’ve gone on that journey. You got to that point as well.
Victoria Bravery 17:34
I came from a background like growing up as well, where the conditioning around money mindset wasn’t supportive to growing a big scalable, profitable business either. You know, it was an environment where there were fights about money and a hearing things like money doesn’t grow on trees and money’s not the be all and end all. And that’s that went into my subconscious and that affected the way my whole life was. No, I’ve never really been concerned about getting money. But I know it was very hard for me to manage. And it’s only since starting a business that was really forced to look at how I look at money, what it means and how I manage it personally, as well as in the business as well.
Andrew Bull 18:16
Gotcha. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think you do have to start having a more serious relationship money when it’s your own business. I mean, you know, a lot of us when you’re young, you’ve got a wage, you know, you go out and spend it carelessly, when you don’t have any real responsibilities. And then you scrape through the last 10 days of the month, before you get paid again, right. That’s the young person’s reality.
Andrew Bull 18:36
Yeah, there’s more month left at the end of the money. Yeah, that’s right.
Andrew Bull 18:40
That’s right. And then like some are, and then you turn up on time to your job for four weeks, and thank God, you get paid. Like you have some money to start again. But obviously there’s a lot of growing up when you’ve got your own business and and not and not running out of money before the mumps up Really? Yeah. So yeah, it’s interesting. So In terms of how you then choose to find a suitable building, what goes into finding your next suitable project or space that you guys are going to invest in?
Victoria Bravery 19:09
So we’ve got a criteria, we’ve got, like a set of data that we use as a guide, and its location, square foot price per square foot, how much we can increase that and still stay within our target market. We also look at we know what’s going on already there, what’s going on in that environment? I’m trying to get my answers in a way that tech businesses might be able to relate.
Andrew Bull 19:39
No, no, no, that’s right.
Victoria Bravery 19:41
Yeah. So it’s basically we’ve got a set of criteria. If it takes those boxes, then we’ll look more into it. What’s happening on on with the development of the area, the businesses that are in there, we’re already we’re actually just going into like a little bit of a wild card space net Which I don’t know. I don’t know how that’s gonna go. It takes
Andrew Bull 20:05
What’s a wild card space?
Victoria Bravery 20:06
It’s a new building.
Andrew Bull 20:07
Okay, interesting. Do you ever take over a building for another company? That’s not quite right. Ah, ok. So that’s interesting. So then yeah, so that this is a different.
Victoria Bravery 20:18
We’re just getting into mergers and acquisitions.
Andrew Bull 20:21
Yeah. Wow. Okay. So that’s that’s a that’s another lot of learning you got to do as well with that, I suppose. Do you worry. I suppose you do worry. Probably, that some of the problems that they might have had and why you’re getting involved is that you might get have some of those challenges as well.
Victoria Bravery 20:38
Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely a calculated risk. So this one is is very new. It was set up by a developer who for we can run a co working space, easy. And then actually a few months down the line. They’re like, this isn’t our core business model. It’s a massive drain on our resources. Let’s sell it to someone else and move on to our next development. So it was cool. We were kind of in the right place at the right time for that one.
Andrew Bull 21:08
But if I, we met previously and had a chat about how you structure your deals, do you mind sharing a little bit about how you protect yourself and ringfence each of your investment?
Victoria Bravery 21:18
Yes. So we’ve got a holding company that my partner and I own 5050 Oh, and then that owns either 100% of each space with each product, or it is 50% with another partner who’s actually a partner and one one business and so that one our holding company Freeman Porter owns 50% and then another company called the number group owns 50% of that building as well. But the number group is owned half by my other partner Remy
Andrew Bull 21:53
Andrew Bull 21:57
Yeah, but I mean, I suppose the my main takeaway from That is the if one of your ventures doesn’t work out, all of them aren’t affected.
Victoria Bravery 22:04
Andrew Bull 22:05
In that level of protection and firewall between them, which is very sensible. Yeah. Yeah. And this is how you decided to do from day one, or you realised later on? Yeah. Okay.
Victoria Bravery 22:16
Well, I’ll tell you one, I don’t think I even thought about scaling. When we first started. I thought when we were looking at second build links, we’re like, okay, let’s just set it up as a different company. And we spoke with our accountant, Ben, who’s amazing and very creative and curious. And he advised us on the best way to structure up our business businesses.
Andrew Bull 22:38
I love that I’m sure he’d be loved to be called the creative accountant. He Marcy’s got that nickname.
Victoria Bravery 22:45
He always checks with HM RC.
Andrew Bull 22:47
Victoria Bravery 22:48
So he’ll write to them when he’s not sure about something and get it back. It’s this is his creativity. He’ll get back what he needs in writing. Whether it’s Well, no, I don’t know. But he’s like, it’s cool. I’ve sent me a letter. Let’s do this.
Andrew Bull 23:05
Oh, that makes most sense. Carrying on talking about the scaling on this show I don’t I just talk about business results of business growth but also about impact on your life in your lifestyle. And so when you’re scaling this business is getting bigger. I suppose if you is that been something that you’ve had to manage carefully with your family or you know, your personal life?
Victoria Bravery 23:26
Yes. So a child as well, you know, so I was born after we started the business after was born in 2015, Ilan in 2017. What we found, so Remy and I pretty focused on on business. So my business partner is also my partner in life and the father of my children. And
Andrew Bull 23:47
You’re so brave. I could never do that with my falling down. She’s already told me that as well. Anyway, Gabrielle
Victoria Bravery 23:53
I think we both wouldn’t be with anybody else. Otherwise, you know, it’s very much an involved. This is live. Now this is a lifestyle and I’m an out of sight out of mind person. So if I was working on being up by myself and Remy was doing something else, he would be dead to me. Like there’s nothing else basically interesting. Not on purpose.
Andrew Bull 24:15
Focused. Okay, yeah.
Victoria Bravery 24:17
So yeah, even at work like I sounds terrible, but I think about kids work unless someone brings them up or I’m reminded of a funny storey or something. Yeah, but then I enjoy them on the wall when I can.
Andrew Bull 24:29
Yeah, okay. But I said you set a clear boundary there between?
Victoria Bravery 24:32
Yeah, I actually, when we decided that we were going to have a kid. I was like, Look, if we’re going to do this, I’m going to want to be a home while they’re very, very little. I wanted to be no baby lead, all the way attachment parenting. And we were lucky that at the time, Remy his other business was getting to a point where he could step away from that and then take over my responsibility of running the workspaces. That didn’t actually have a great impact on our personal life because I was we moved out of London when when alpha was born, and there was a cute Remy was working very late at night and miss the traffic but then also to get work done because he couldn’t get it done at home when those baby and we just didn’t see each other. And like I just said, out of sight out of mind, and I started to just be annoyed that this adult was coming home and then expected me to also help them as well. And it was like a burden. But then, you know, he also thought like that as well, like you know, who’s going to work and running and running a business and to co founder of next building as well so that our baby could have everything that he needed for me. So it was like this disjointed, not thinking about what somebody else wants and needs and just the self. any relationship personal or business is just doomed basically
Andrew Bull 25:58
That’s the challenge of bringing up a family now which which is a modern challenge, in some ways for many families that our parents didn’t have so much of or It feels like they didn’t I don’t know if that’s just perception.
Victoria Bravery 26:11
I know my grandma lived at home with us. So my both my parents work, but my mom was there. She looked after us.
Andrew Bull 26:17
Yeah. So I think most A lot of people have grown up with one parent staying at home looking after them. So I think everyone just seems to have more to do now and more stuff to balance. And I think there is just more adds a bit more tension to working parents, especially when you’re, you’re both invested in the same project in the project. You’ve got the same projects with the family and the same project of your, your business as well. So you’re like WE You don’t? Really Yeah. Yeah, it’s like, how’s the baby? Which one? Do you mean, the business or the page? Yeah.
Victoria Bravery 26:46
Yeah. One of the annoying things that isn’t very constructive for our businesses. When we talk about business stuff. There’s so much to do every day, whilst we’re in the offices, just trying to get through to do’s and checking in with team members that we tend to have our like meetings, upper management meetings, like in the morning making the kids breakfast or you know, tidy up just before bed or something. And I despise that because I know where my brain is at that point, but that’s when when means like, waking up and focusing.
Andrew Bull 27:23
Okay? Are you an early bird?
Victoria Bravery 27:28
I’m better, I’m better in the morning. I do I like to sleep in, but I function in the mornings best. And I like to know what’s coming as well. So I can think about it. I’m a processor like, I will not give a great response. If I’m asked something on the spot, I will give a much more meaningful response. If I have time to let it sink in. Even if I don’t think about it. If the seeds been planted, then my brains working away on it. So I like to schedule meetings during working hours so that we can actually really cover something and then Create action points. Whereas you know if we’re doing the dishes and talking about Okay, how are we going to manage the build project for our next workspace or talk about someone’s performance on our team? And I’m like, I need to write things down you know, I need to make sure this is going to be action and then that makes me feel stressed and an overwhelmed because I know it’s lost like some compensation it’s just gone.
Andrew Bull 28:24
Yeah, yeah, I understand you don’t fully take it into that time is just not is the good that’s interesting though. Apparently though. It’s really good technique to do stand up not to stop them from going on too soon as well. So but it sounds like maybe you need to go in the other direction. Maybe like similar. storey like some slightly uncomfortable barstools.
Victoria Bravery 28:44
Yeah, maybe like doing that right before going to sleep. And then like, my brain would stop.
Andrew Bull 28:52
I dislike that as well. It’s like I try not to look at my phone too late in the day because it’s all all of those triggers that are just going to keep you awake. Or maybe you go to sleep. But then you’re wake up with three in the morning, with that thought coming back to you. So just go back to the more technical side of scaling your business. So obviously, you’ve got a lot of team members. Now, how big is your team? Now?
Victoria Bravery 29:12
We’ve only got eight.
Andrew Bull 29:14
Okay, wow, it’s incredible, really, because the amount of real estate you have, in some ways, it seems like you’d have a lot more more team members. Yeah,
Victoria Bravery 29:21
We’re trying to, like I said, Do like scaled bootstrap scale and make everybody as efficient as possible by giving them agency over their roles. So one of the questions that we’re asking everybody in the team at the moment is, do you see yourself as an employee of the business? Or do you see yourself as the owner of this space? Is the leader of your workspace? And what does that mean, to get you there if you don’t feel like that right now? So what do you need to have agency over your role and feedback, let’s come back. As you know, we need more access to our budgets so that we can actually start to take them into country duration and add them to our KPIs. Like I cool, we can do that.
Andrew Bull 30:04
That’s that that sounds smart a GG use task tracking software then two tracks, everyone can see what they’re actually supposed to be able to do. And you can see like, I’ve got a Gantt chart for how things are progressing.
Victoria Bravery 30:14
So we were using monday.com Okay, I really like it as a way to not micromanage and also to see what I need to do and the status is nice to look at as well. But people weren’t really in the habit of using it and it was very difficult to get people into the habit of using it regularly. So I think some of our team is still using it to manage their own their own workflows, but we know really, basically is the answer.
Andrew Bull 30:43
Okay, interest, okay, so I can
Victoria Bravery 30:46
Actually just process Street.
Andrew Bull 30:48
Victoria Bravery 30:50
To put the daily weekly, monthly, and your processes in and then they pop up as checklists. You can like link it to a calendar which is very useful. fulfil prophecy managers, job facilities management, you know, the wiki fire alarm test, it pops up, brings up a checklist and then ops manager can see if it’s been done. And if it has been only partly done as well. So, you know, if someone gets halfway through the dating building walk round then gets interrupted and forgets to go back to it. Gemma ops manager, as part of her daily, weekly monthly checks will go into the street and see what hasn’t been done. And then to say no, certainly. Okay,
Andrew Bull 31:31
That makes that makes a lot of sense. And I think Yeah, uses some of those tools is a really smart thing to do, especially with training. So you’re not reinventing the wheel all the time with people and yeah, for something like that with firearms where it needs to be done a certain way. makes total sense. Yeah. So has it been a challenge for you being an employer without you know, a big change for you actually hiring and taking care of people?
Victoria Bravery 31:52
Yeah, yeah, it’s really hard. It’s really hard to to fulfil your own expectations. So I think Everybody’s a natural holds themselves as the standard as the baseline. But also your say that’s like, okay, very minimum, this is what I need from somebody like work ethic, the attitude, the general disposition. But also I’m hiring somebody in some roles, because I can’t do it very well. So I need also for them to be better at something than I am, which is my leadership style now with the head office team, I guess you’d call it. So we’ve got the site managers, which are other locations, but then we’ve also bring it we’re looking for sales person, we just brought in marketing and finance manager as well. And it’s like, Okay, what am I doing these people because I am rubbish at what I’m hiring them to do, or I hate it or both. So it’s like, okay, I want people can do what they hire to do. I want people that want to learn more and do more than I hired them to do. One thing that we’ve discovered very recently that we’re now taking is a strategy for onboarding people is, what do you do for personal development? And if it’s nothing, I’m not really interested in it. That’s it. We don’t need to talk to you anymore. Yeah, so a marketing intern that we’ve just brought on, when I spoke to her in an interview, she’s told me about her situation as a storey. She said, I’m just about to be kicked out of where I live, because it’s in her flatmates. Name the lease, and she said, she spent her money that she had left her bank account on on buying, like an online course to upscale so that then she could get a better position. And I was like, that’s also so we actually have got a Tony Robbins business coach that works with us as a whole company, so that we can all get better at what we do get better at working together and just hopefully improve because people
Andrew Bull 33:51
Fantastic. I love that and investing in people just makes so much sense. But yeah, you’re right. You do want people who want to improve themselves as well. But Because you can’t just you know, you can grow those people and help them become better. But they’ve got to have the motivation incentive to do it and not just be lazy, to be honest. That’s
Victoria Bravery 34:09
Yeah. So I think one of the best things that you can do as an employer is give your team the the knowledge, but also the instructions to do what they do. So having very clear KPIs, but also not just the KPI expectation, but what are the actions involved in that KPI? What does it take to achieve that? And then if you can pass over that information, and check in with them, that is understood and it’s being followed, and there’s no reason other than somebody doesn’t want to do the job, that they can’t do it. So you’ve given them everything that you can possibly to, to help them do their best. And then if it’s not working, it’s a really easy decision rather than this isn’t working because I’m finding you or this isn’t working because I don’t know why.
Andrew Bull 35:00
Yeah, and I think you’re right to giving people the motivation by linking it back to the key result that you want to achieve with the projects and how it’s actually going to help the business. I mean, that really helps with the motivation as well. Are you doing profit shares or you thought about doing profit shares at all?
Victoria Bravery 35:17
We’re not at the moment apart from with Randy’s other holding company. Okay. We have been kind of approached recently by potential investors. We are open to that model as well. So when we speak to new landlords in will say, you know, this is what works for us. We’d rather take the whole building but sometimes we don’t have the capital to refurbish the whole building in one go. So we always propose to the landlord often proposed to the landlord is to do a profit share if the numbers work for us. So there’s no point us doing, you know, all the work that we do anyway to then give away half of that business but also half of the income profit generated from it. So We’ve been having a big reflection recently, like is getting an investor something that actually we, we want to do. We tell them, what does it mean to scale with them? So there’s lots of questions to ask,
Andrew Bull 36:14
Has some of that come around because of the big we work IPO as well, some of those.
Victoria Bravery 36:20
It was before what the investors
Andrew Bull 36:23
Yeah, just thinking about, you know, working more with investors, because it’s all your own capital at the moment.
Victoria Bravery 36:27
Andrew Bull 36:28
Is that IPO affected you?
Victoria Bravery 36:29
Not really? I don’t know.
Andrew Bull 36:32
Do you look at something like that we work model, not the exact because there are a lot more corporate than you. And I prefer your spaces, to be honest. But do you think that’s what you’d like to be like a worldwide company like that?
Victoria Bravery 36:45
So this is a conversation that Remy and I have had very recently, like, what type of business do we want to build and to build a company like that like performance business, we wouldn’t be able to see our children. You know, it’s it’s the time investment that neither of us are willing to do now. So, you know, I don’t know where we’ll be when the kids are going to be old enough to join in if they want to, and we’ll let them but you know, already were working flat out basically.
Andrew Bull 37:20
Do you also have to get to a point where you just go, this is actually enough. Why do we need to be more ambitious? Why do we need to reach that yet, another goal? What’s wrong with just reaching this goal and just being happy with that and having a good life work balance as well.
Victoria Bravery 37:35
Yeah, exactly. Actually, when you talking about goals, so I’ve just changed what the what the goal is. I haven’t worked out the figure but I’ve changed it from a monetary value to a people number of people money. So and it’s changing the way that I’m thinking about the company building the company and how we do things, like I said, like mania, it’s now become this entity, and it’s That services a lot of people. And it’s like, okay, instead of reaching 3 million revenue by 2021, how many people does that translate to? So how many people do we need to help to get to that stage instead? So and instead of going up a million people have a billion pounds will go up, you know, thousand people instead.
Andrew Bull 38:23
That makes sense. Yeah. I like to focus on people being your KPI as well, that’s, that’s, that’s nice. Because Yeah, it’s not all about money, is it? Really, you know, I like looking at the triple bottom line really is not just about generating how much revenue but how much positive impact on people and positive impact on the world. You can you can make as well.
Andrew Bull 38:42
So that’s great.
Andrew Bull 38:44
Can we just jump because I know we’ve been talking for quite a while now. I just want to like finish up by just talking a bit about your marketing just to see if this some ideas that you can share. What are you using to drive awareness of your spaces?
Victoria Bravery 38:56
That’s a really good question. So it’s something that we’re just focusing on now. Really, we’ve always been referral based Yeah, or leads through Gumtree of all places. But that’s literally for the last six years where 98% of our businesses come from. It’s not working very well anymore. The good news is, is there’s lots of avenues that we haven’t been doing. We’re really trying to capture the storeys, of the businesses within our business as well as the journey that we’re on because we’re also on exactly the same journey as everybody that’s in our spaces and everybody that might potentially be in our spaces. And capturing that and putting it online building an online presence. We’re trying to think about what are people going to get from the information we’re putting out? Ultimately, nobody really cares about main yard if that makes sense. Yeah. What’s, what’s the value in it for them? So it’s like how can we do that in a way that does entertaining, it’s inspiring this ultimately going get someone to pick up the phone and give us a call and come and look around the space.
Andrew Bull 40:04
Yeah, well, I think how you telling your storey is key, and you’re right people don’t know is that people don’t like any business or don’t like mainly order, don’t buy into it. But people always focused in the transformation and the storey of transformation around themselves. So when they come to your co working space, they want to imagine that they’re going to go on a journey while they’re in that space, and you’re going to help facilitate that. Yeah, that that transformation and journey of them becoming an epic business person. And I guess that’s what they really, really focused on. So yeah, I guess that would be where to focus.
Victoria Bravery 40:39
We’re looking at like, what does that mean as well for what people get from our spaces as well. So it’s productive workspace, but what’s helped us get to where we are and how can we share that with other people. So I’ve been quietly when I get a few minutes working on kind of like a programme that will guide me One way to focus their energy. So people, you know, the amount of conversations that I have with members across all buildings about, you know, where where are you in your belt in your business at the moment, what’s the challenges and some of the storeys that I’m hearing about their businesses and they’re growing? And I’m like, Man, this is awesome joke. Can we share this? So somebody else can help us like, Okay, how can we do this in a way? So, you know, we’ve got one business in one of our spaces that just lost their biggest client. And that’s like, 80% of their revenue, so they can’t afford to pay for their office anymore. And, yeah, I want them to stay because they pay us money, but also, actually, they have stayed, they’ve gone into a squat in somebody else’s office until they get more clients. It was a great, it’s cool. So it’s like, Okay, what do they need? They need more clients, how they going to get more clients, they need more leads, right? Who knows how to do that. Let’s do something who else needs to do that? Let’s put together a little group and everybody worked on this on the United States a week or whatever. So it’s Yeah, figuring out how to do that without adding bells and whistles to a cool product. And that might actually detract from what we’re doing anyway, which I think that there’s always room for improvement on your core products and focus on doing that, as best you can, until your customers tell you that they want something else.
Andrew Bull 42:17
Yeah, that makes sense. It is helpful to hold those workshops, though and get people together. Like you say, that’s that’s a nice idea. So you’re going to be doing more of that training moving forward. And that’s something I think I briefly spoke to you about workshops as well. So we should have a chat about that at some point as well. How do you feel about the drive towards personal marketing as well, because this is something we’ve spoken about, about how this is, you know, again, this is a new frontier in many ways that people are becoming having to be much more of a personality online and a presence and that’s something again, that our parents didn’t have to do.
Andrew Bull 42:50
You know, how do you how do you feel about that you’re comfortable with it.
Victoria Bravery 42:53
So what words so awkward?
Andrew Bull 42:56
Victoria Bravery 42:57
It’s, this is stretching me outside of my comfort zone.
Andrew Bull 43:00
Right now doing this interview.
Victoria Bravery 43:02
Yeah, doing something good. Actually, this isn’t so bad. We’ve had interactions before. We know I saw you around those faces few years ago. I also recently spoken a few times on stage, which pushed me out of my comfort zone as well. And I’m going to be doing it a bit more as well. But it’s something that makes my heart race when I think about it, and like a bit shaky as well. What I still haven’t been able to get on board with is the online like social marketing of myself doing storeys every day on Instagram and posting something over your personal a photo of yourself every day. I like I just can’t do it. So I’ve started working with an organisation called Global women. And a global woman club, their founder and director of morality life is an absolutely incredible woman. If there’s any women in tech that are listening to you go and look up global women club is really great place to Connect with women in business. But she’s mentoring me at the moment to get better at this basically and like I didn’t see anything for an online today and I’m like, building up to a building up to it. So yeah, she’s she’s got a magazine and we have to as part of this coaching mentoring be in the magazine as well like an article and you know, photo and then speak on her stage in November as well. So, yes, I signed up for it because I was a like a women in business event. And she was speaking and she asked the question, What have you done recently to push yourself out of your comfort zone? And, and I was like, not much really. And, and then she said, you know, who’s public speaking who’s selling themselves online was using them themselves to sell their brand? I was like, no. So okay, I’m gonna sign up and do this,
Andrew Bull 44:53
Great. We’ve taken you know, it’s good that you’ve taken that positive step to put yourself out there. I know it is actually essential for Everyone to be honest. Yeah, yeah, I think everyone has to be, but I think it can help. And it can help your message spread a bit more people connect with people, people build relationships with people. I think logos are becoming more of a turnoff for people. Honestly, I think people don’t really have relationships with logos, big branding companies will say that you do and you feel about them that way. But I think most of us don’t have these huge epic brands like a Nike or so on. So I think what a personal connection can do is is invaluable. Have you any final advice that you can share about scaling your business or any big lessons, anything that’s cost you which you wish you’d gone? Our gosh, that would have saved us so much time or money?
Victoria Bravery 45:43
Yeah, well, there’s a few I think probably you can’t predict everything. And so don’t plan for everything. If that makes sense. Start what you’re doing. Just get started, and then iterate as you go. Try not to paint yourself into any corners early. When I said about us building the offices inside the CO working space, so that came at a time when people started to ask us for them, but also I was, like burnt out. It was very stressful running a co working space that didn’t have a steady income every month. So we’re very flexible with the terms people could come and leave with the month notice and I was like, waking up sweating every night not knowing if we’d be able to pay the rent that month. Already. We weren’t paying ourselves at this point, which I think is fine to do when you start a business. I know everyone says pay yourself first. But it depends what your goal is. So if you want to build a bigger business, pay yourself enough so that you can get by and then reinvest into your into your product into your business. But yeah, if I’d known about what was possible rather than being blinkered to co working, so it was really so focused on No, we have to just have open workspace. We have to just have you know a certain type of business coming into our space which really restricted our business. My But it also was very stress inducing as well. So just not being too attached to your product, I guess is what I’m trying to say to simply, you know, have a vision, know what you want to do listen to your audience. Ultimately, they’re going to be the deciders. And don’t be too attached to what you’re doing. You know, it’s are you doing this to fulfil a purpose in yourself? Are you you doing this to serve other people?
Andrew Bull 47:25
Interesting. And actually, I think I can pick up on that. I think one of the top skills is being able to move on as a business owner and let things go sometimes deals don’t work out or projects don’t work out. And you just have to learn quickly you can move on the quickly you can move on to the next good thing. So yes, a good skill. Well, thanks for coming on the show today. Tori if people want to learn about main yard and about your co working spaces, whereabouts would they go? To find out more
Victoria Bravery 47:55
They can go to our website www.mainyardstudios.co.uk Find us on all social channels Mainyard Studios. You can follow me on twitter Victoria Bravery, and I really don’t go on Instagram too much. There’s pictures of my kids and stuff on there, but also Tori Bravery.
Andrew Bull 48:14
Okay, brilliant. All right. Well, thank you very much for coming on today.
Victoria Bravery 48:18
Alright, thanks fine.
Andrew Bull 48:34
So I really enjoyed talking with Tori in today’s episode, and she’s got so much experience and knowledge to share. Even though her business is a different business than a technology business, she still had to overcome many the challenges of scaling and managing and growing a business and balancing work and life and she’s got those challenges twice over because her partner is a partner in life and her business. So it’s really interesting. I’m really grateful that she was so open and honest with sharing those challenges with us, and also about the way that she solve some of those issues and the way that she gets past them. And I think we could be inspired by a lot of what she has to say there. One of the things I would say is really key that you find your own goals in life that you want to reach, and maybe that it’s okay to plateau, and that you don’t have to keep going and building and growing your business at the expense of your life and the people around you. And it’s okay to reach a point where you’re just happy with how things are and that you don’t need to keep pushing forward relentlessly, all the time. Because I think it is important that we balance, business growth, the time that we spend doing that, and obviously our lives as well so that we’re there for the people that we love, and we have time to do some of the things that we love as well. And, you know, I personally really appreciate the time that I have to spend with people I care about and I’m sure you do, too. So just jumping back to the show. Now, Tory mentioned a very inspiring businesswoman who was very relevant for female tech entrepreneurs. And maybe she’s relevant for now, tech entrepreneurs as well. So I’m going to ask Tori for the link for that lady. I’m going to put that in the show resources page, which is on the bright arts website. And how do you find that good question. Go to the bright arts website right after agency jumps to the podcast page. And then you scroll down the podcast page. So we find the link for this episode. And then on that episode, you’ll find the show notes and resources, and there’s a transcription there. So if you do have difficulties with listening to the show, there’s actually a really good transcription done by the otter app. So you could share that with your friends who need that. Under the show links, I’ll put the link to the lady to Tori mentioned I’ll also put a link to a quiz that I’ve created, which is a quiz that you can do which will help you understand where the strengths and weaknesses are in your business. What’s costing you not only business growth, but probably your work quality of your work experience and you know the amount of time that you’re losing to your job as well. And losing to your business. So yeah, do try that quiz because it gives you a lot of helpful insights in the results. And actually, if you do try the quiz, I will send you a personalised video with feedback on your quiz as well. So yeah, do check that out. Otherwise, yeah, thanks to Tori again for coming by and sharing such amazing insights and knowledge with us. Hope you got a lot out of the show. I did. And until next time, go smart, work smart. Smart.
Andrew Bull 51:46
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai