Fires, fraud & vats of curry

When you’re a student or recent graduate starting up a new business, you’re quite often going against the grain of what’s expected of you. You’re saying no to the well-trodden path of grad schemes and internships – your aim is to start something from scratch, for yourself.

It can often be the case that friends and family don’t quite understand this move, making it all the more important to find your tribe that does – a community of people who are pursuing the same thing as you, who you can share your highs and lows with, as well as valuable knowledge, contacts and ideas.

That’s why each month we hold a Monthly Entrepreneurs Meetup. Nothing fancy, just a regular gathering of BSEENers past and present (and potential!) to network, catch up and hear from a guest speaker on their entrepreneurial path. There’s nothing like hearing someone speak about their experiences in a truly honest and open way over some food and drinks to get you thinking about your own business goals.

So, for our April meetup we invited along Tara Tomes, Founder/Managing Director of East VILLAGE PR to take us through her journey from student to business leader.

Having been both agency and client-side prior to EAST VILLAGE., Tara has worked with local independent retailers, internationally renowned fashion brands, acclaimed entertainment and event venues, large scale exhibitions, and everything in between. There’s so much we could write about Tara, but we honestly couldn’t fit it all into this blog post – so find out more here.

Tara kicked off by entertaining us with tales of all the PR nightmares she’s dealt with over the years – from fires, fraud to vats of curry being tipped over people…

After getting her experiences during a placement year, and then in a series of startups, growing companies and big corporates, Tara felt ready to start her own thing. So in 2013 she started East Village and hasn’t looked back since.

Here are the top 3 startup lessons from her talk:

  • It’s all about networking

This is really one of the beauties of starting up in Birmingham – the business community is close knit and you really can meet so many people on different levels. Start with your own personal network (you’ll be surprised) and make the most of things like Birmingham Future. This is what your twenties should be about – meet the people you’re going to be working with well into the future. It’s always good to be that person that knows people! That said, you could fill your whole day with networking, so it can be a bit distracting…but go to events with an open mind and a friendly, non sales driven approach and it’ll take you far.

  • Keep your team happy

The success of everything you do is about keeping your team happy and building a strong company culture. If your team is happy, they’ll keep your customers/clients happy! This has been hard to maintain over several years, where the team has seen people come and go – but stay true to your values and make sure newcomers buy into that. It’s not about putting generic words up on your wall – it’s about living those values (whatever they might be to you).

  • Never stop learning

When you’re growing a business everything is a massive learning curve. Embrace it and take any opportunity to learn new things, even if you think you already know it. Part of this is using experts for certain things (accounting, for example – there are professionals for that!), and having a range of mentors you can call on for guidance in different areas.

A huge thank you to Tara for her fantastic insights.


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