By ensuring that a website works hard for its business, A Digital has risen above its competition.
Andrew Armitage has grown from an extra bedroom project to a prosperous team. Working with clients including NHS, Hawkshead Relish, Windermere Lake Cruises, and most recently James Cropper PLC, he shares his insights into business matters.
Do you provide products or services?
In short, we provide basic marketing design and development with digital marketing that supports business and digital transformation. These include e-commerce sites as well as more complex sites such as subscription services and online booking
What kind of business do you work with?
We work with business to business and business to consumer companies – some even both! Most of our clients earn between £ 1m and £ 100m, from start-ups to PLCs in a wide range of sectors, including travel and tourism, food and beverage, professional services and manufacturing.
Does your company solve the problem?
Customers want access to your products and services anytime, anywhere Furthermore, they expect it to be personal, relevant and easy to use. If your website gets here and done properly, it can be your hardest working asset.
At A Digital, we create advanced websites that integrate seamlessly with business systems, creating operational skills. As a result, the problems we solve can be complex, involving different systems and services For example, a subscription service will also require a payment service that enables payment reminders via email and the option to manage your subscription. Ecommerce websites often require a connection to a financial account or stock system, or allow businesses to streamline their operational processes such as packing and shipping.
In addition, every website needs to be promoted. Gone are the days of creating a website and expecting people to find it, so we help people make sure their website is visible to their target audience. From a customer’s perspective, we’re solving problems such as finding specific information about them, helping to solve a customer service problem, or buying a product.
What is your USP?
Although many companies see a website as a marketing tool, we see it much more than that. Websites can help businesses in a variety of ways and they often sit at the center of their digital activity. We are not afraid of complex challenges and are able to show how the whole organization can benefit from the website and the processes behind it. Not only sound education but his alertness and dedication too are most required.
What is the value of your company? Have you ever challenged them and if so how did you deal with it?
There is a huge tendency to talk about values and even if they are important, it is very easy to talk without walking. Our overriding value is to do our best and always work in the best interests of our clients. I see a lot of companies saying their values are honesty, loyalty and fidelity, among a host of other keywords, but when you work with someone you don’t expect it to be minimal?
Your values are always challenged, and when it comes to being an element of compromise, it’s important to know what your ‘red line’ is – the things you’re not ready to compromise on. These will be your guiding principles (often called your ‘north star’) that ultimately define who you are and the qualities and values you bring to your business relationship.
How do you make sure you are hiring a team that reflects your company’s values?
It’s hard to be honest. Most interviews are now being conducted online, connecting with someone is not that easy, and considering the market conditions for hiring, you need to move quickly with potential candidates; Otherwise, before you know it, they’ve taken on a role elsewhere.
With most people, you get a sense of what they believe and their general attitude. Can you agree on different things, do they share similar interests with your team and what your gut tells you. I know of a variety of approaches, such as DISC profiling which I have never done, but when someone has a real passion for their art, I think it becomes fairly obvious and this is a great starting point.
Are you happy to offer a hybrid work model for the next home / office?
Yes, that’s right you can now become known as a Lord of the Rings. Since we’ve been doing this for a while now, we had plenty of time to adjust to it. Although the practicalities of working from a distance [with digital services] Simply put, we must ensure that everyone on the team feels comfortable with it and does not feel left out or overwhelmed and does not suffer in silence.
Do you have any tips to effectively manage suppliers and customers?
In our business, many of our suppliers are ‘digital’. These are often subscription-based services, and we feel so far from them that relationships are completely transactional. It has grown even more through epidemics, but I think it’s really important to have suppliers you can trust and meet face to face from time to time.
Putting the boot on the other foot, I am keen to ensure that we are not a digital supplier of arms from our own clients. I want to have a personal relationship with the people we work with, because I believe that people buy from people. Relationships are fundamental to collaboration and, therefore, achieving results. Being able to talk to clients opens up opportunities to hear what is affecting them and to know in their own words the challenges they are facing. Relationships are not just about business, though – connecting with other people makes us human and brings a new level of joy to our work.
Any money or cash-flow tips for starting a new business?
Cash, of course, is the lifeblood of every business, so staying on top of your cash flow is crucial. When you’re starting out, you’re busy, often working on multiple aspects of your business, and it’s easy to let admins get in the way of responding to clients and chasing new opportunities. Setting up an invoice schedule helps you pay on time to make sure you’re sending invoices on time. The moment you fall behind, it becomes a double effort to hold and wake up your bills.
Think carefully about how you will finance your business. Taking out debt finance can give you a cash injection but becomes a long term burden. There are many more ways to make money through crowdfunding Think carefully about what you are going to use the money for when investing in resources wherever possible for temporary expenses like advertising or people.
What if you could change the government one thing for business?
It is difficult to choose just one thing because government decisions affect many aspects of running a business.
The government has introduced various schemes to encourage young people in the workplace, and now there are many more ways for school-dropouts and those who are at the beginning of their careers. Although there are still many large skill gaps, especially when it comes to soft skills and, in our case, digital skills.
Introducing entrepreneurial skills in the school curriculum will give students more opportunities to gain business experience and build their confidence, from creating their own personal brand to applying for jobs, giving presentations and helping them to be different in problem solving. Whether students choose to start their own business or not, the experience they gain from this will provide a range of valuable non-academic skills for a wide range of their careers.
If I wanted to hide another one, I’d say getting involved in government contracts was as easy as running a small business. There are many opportunities, but I have little faith in the purchasing process. Tenders of this nature are expensive for our participation It seems that buyers usually move so far away from the project distribution team that we are never going to get a fair chance to present our capabilities. Engaging with buyers is often difficult, and they seem to focus on the cost element – yet ridiculously, you run the risk of becoming too cheap! There have been times when we have submitted a tender, and then it has been withdrawn for no reason – it is extremely disrespectful to the time and effort given to the process.
What is your attitude towards your competitors?
I think it’s important to know who your competitors are but not be influenced by them. Competitors can easily become collaborators, and it’s good to have healthy respect for each other. On a typical everyday day, though, I think it’s best to focus on being the best version of yourself. Most people start a business because they have a dream, specific experience that leads to the development of a new product or service, or insights that show the need for a new approach.
There are many more agencies that I have a deep respect for – either from the quality of their work or from the similar standards I can share with their approach. I think spending too much time looking at your competition does two things. At first you risk being tempted by the feeling of being a cheater and worry that your own work will never be good enough. Second, it drives you to take your eyes off your own focus and get things right or make things better for your clients.
Any thoughts on your company and the future of your dreams?
Like most companies, the challenges we face are relentless. After the epidemic, we see rising costs across the board and the difficulty of recruiting skills and people into our team. I never wanted to ‘take over the world’ with my agency, but wanted to do great work for great clients and solve meaningful problems. I also have some personal goals – to be able to support my family, especially my kids when they grow up in an uncertain world and look forward to travel opportunities, especially in the United States.
I am passionate about developing digital skills with young people and in the future, I want to give young people more opportunities to start their careers.