Three common threads appear to be weaved into every successful startup story; networking, relentlessness and failure.
Just beyond the PR-grabbing headlines, meteoric growth and seemingly overnight success there’s always a longer story filled with adversity.
The BusinessZone team has been lucky enough to explore these journeys with a network of founders that shared their experiences in the hope it would help others.
That’s meant writing about the Indian founder that sold his motorbike to get a one-way ticket to the UK, then used a car loan to create a billion-pound money transfer business. Sharing the story of Vibrant Media’s hustle in Fake jets, incubator blood baths and how we made our first billion, and talking to the founders of Lost My Name, Prezi and many more hugely successful ventures.
Then there were the more practical guides covering topics like reducing B2B sales cycles and long-form content that challenged the perception of startups such as The false idols: Silicon Valley’s unicorns aren’t to be emulated.
Crucially, we worked hard to create a space to share what founding a business was really like, including tackling tough issues like the strain of starting up part-time and the mental health issues that are common among founders.
In short, we were relentless about building a brand of high-quality editorial content that could provide the expertise growth-stage businesses need to scale. And, we’re immensely proud of the articles written by the community, our freelance contributors and the editorial team.
The future for BusinessZone
In 2015, we re-launched BusinessZone and pivoted the focus to growth-stage businesses, launching content aimed at micro-businesses on BusinessZone’s sister site UK Business Forums shortly afterwards.
Within a year of the re-launch BusinessZone’s readership had grown by a third and the length of time people spent on the site nearly doubled; we’d grown our audience and engagement while being more targeted about the size of businesses we covered.
We also attracted a network of industry-leading contributors like Luke Lang, Lucy-Rose Walker, Reshma Sohoni, Lawrence Tomlinson and Ed Reeves, launched a podcast and profile series, and worked with some amazing commercial partners like Worldpay, The Federation of Small Businesses and Royal Mail.
But it wasn't enough. The commercial environment is incredibly difficult for publishers in every sector and despite best efforts and intent, the tough decision was made by SIFT to no longer run two small business titles.
“It’s been an incredible journey, in terms of leading such a fantastic team working on the Sift small business portfolio, but also getting to work in such a dynamic community of visionary entrepreneurs as we have over the years. We’ve met some incredible businesses over the years, worked on some ground breaking client campaigns and formed one of the industry’s most effective publishing teams in a relatively small amount of time - lots to be proud of and thanks to everyone who’s contributed to the adventure over the last few years.” - Yiuwin Tsang, Publisher, BusinessZone.co.uk and UK Business Forums.
Over the next four weeks, we'll be merging and transitioning BusinessZone over to UK Business Forums, an incredibly active community that receives 1,500 posts a week and over 500,000 visitors every month. This approach will allow SIFT to focus on driving a stronger, more engaged community of like-minded startups, entrepreneurs and professionals.
We'll continue to have a team dedicated to UK Business Forums, as SIFT moves to develop the site, its content, marketing services and membership offering.
However, it does means I’ll be leaving SIFT along with business development manager, Grace Moore and small business publisher, Yiuwin Tsang. BusinessZone’s deputy editor François Badenhorst will move to the SIFT title AccountingWEB, the leading publication for accountants and finance professionals, as business editor. Matt King, our commercial manager, will be continuing to represent small business opportunities across UK Business Forums with a wider remit across other SIFT titles.
Our startup event The Pitch, which is now entering its 10th year, will continue to run. This year’s event is supported by Propel by Deloitte, and sees Laundrapp’s Ed Relf and Entrepreneurial Spark’s Lucy-Rose Walker as judges.
We would like to thank every entrepreneur who became part of our community. Who took the time to share their experience and advice by writing articles, talking at events or being interviewed - the power of mentorship is incredible.
Finally, I’d like to personally thank the whole small business team - by far the most fun group of people I've ever worked with - and the support SIFT gave us on the project. We believe in our mission to support entrepreneurs and, despite this setback, have learnt a huge amount and know each of us will go on supporting the business community.
Please note - The Pitch will continue to run for 2017 and beyond. You can keep up with the event via the website and @The_Pitch. You can also follow what both Chris and Yiuwin are up to in their next adventure via Twitter.
Journalist and editor with nine years' experience covering small businesses and entrepreneurship (ChrisGoodfellow.net). Follow his personal twitter account @CPGoodfellow and his events business @Box2Media. He has written for a wide range of publications in the UK, Ireland and Canada, including The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent and Vice magazine.