Perfect People – Small Business Spotlight
Victoria Field is the latest guest for #SmallBusinessSpotlight.
Victoria shares the story behind her creation of the Perfect People business network. She explains what makes Perfect People different from other networking groups. And she reveals the inspiration from her family.
Please introduce yourself and your business.
I’m Victoria Field and I live in Salendine Nook with my 2 children – Jessica 16 and Harrison 6. And 2 annoying kittens!
I run Perfect People, a pay-as-you-go business networking group based in West Yorkshire. I started the business in 2014 and was joined last year by Richard Farnhill.
Our aim is to bring local businesses face-to-face to build relationships.
We have regular meetings in Huddersfield, Holmfirth, Leeds, Sowerby Bridge and Wakefield. Also, we’ve got plans to set up further groups in the surrounding areas.
As well as our meetings, we encourage people to set up their own 1-2-1 meetings to get to know each other’s businesses better. That’s where the magic happens!
There’ve been some great successes:
People have gone on weekend retreats, collaborated on projects, set up in business together.
And we’ve had a couple fall in love!
Why did you start your business?
I began my career with the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce as a PA. After a while, I was headhunted to a training services firm. We connected people leaving the armed forces with roles in aviation security.
When the business closed down I moved into a new area – telecoms. Initially, I was with NTL and then I worked in Mobile sales. In fact, my first mobile client was a start-up based in a cottage, although they’re now a global business – GHD!
My next move was into recruitment. I began on the admin side but soon created my own desk for industry recruitment. This taught me so much about recruitment. Also, much of my work until then had been phone-based, so I liked the chance to meet people face to face – often on the factory floor.
After about 7 years I found it hard to manage this alongside being a single mum. So I changed roles and worked with a couple of sports and fitness companies. Whilst I was there I grew their membership and built their sales and marketing functions.
When it was time to change I worked with a building and maintenance company followed by a fire extinguisher firm. When I arrived they had no systems, no branding and no online presence. So I dragged them from the dark ages into the 21st century!
A Perfect World
However, some personal challenges lead me to look for another role. A friend of mine got me started working with hampers. I began to create bespoke hampers – for Christmas, birthdays, new homes and for pampering. I enjoyed the creativity but there wasn’t a large margin in it.
So alongside this, I set up Perfect PAs. We provided on-site and virtual PA support for holiday cover or interim support for small businesses. This grew to also include social media and marketing strategy.
To support these businesses I had to grow my leads – to sell more hampers and promote my PA business. But, having tried different networking groups I couldn’t find the right fit for me. So I set up my own networking business!
Initially, I rebranded and juggled all three businesses together – Perfect PAs, Perfect Presents and Perfect People. However, I then chose to focus on Perfect People.
I first met Richard at a Perfect People meeting and discovered his previous experience of running networking groups. After working alongside each other for several months he came onboard as my fellow director.
Richard now focuses on our strategy and plans. At meetings, he gets everyone signed in and takes payments whilst I host the meeting.
It’s great to have a business partner – it helps to motivate me and motivate Richard too!
How does your business stand out from the competition?
We’re a friendly community that helps each other. I feel we’ve rediscovered the benefits of face-to-face networking through our meetings and 1-2-1s.
Although we’re a community, there’s no membership fee or strict rules about referrals. You pay-as-you-go for each meeting you attend.
What do you enjoy most about your business?
I enjoy helping other people to find referrals and connections – seeing who will work well together.
I love my job – there’s never a day when I think ‘I don’t want to go to work today’.
How do you promote your business online and how effective is it?
Although our focus is on face-to-face networking we do use social media and other online tools.
The Facebook group is our main sales funnel. We have so many members (now over 600) that we’re considering an app to help people talk and book meetings.
Also, we encourage people to register for meetings using EventBrite to help us plan numbers.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your business right now?
Our big challenge goes along with the business model that we have.
As we’re not a paid-up membership group our projections and plans have to use averages. As a result, they can vary a lot from month to month – depending how many people attend each event.
Who has inspired you the most in your business life and in what way?
I’d say my parents have been the most inspiring to me. My dad was a sales director and worked very hard to support our family. My mum worked part-time but was always there for us.
So I’ve had a wonderful balance between career and homelife inspiration.
I feel I’ve now brought that to my own family. I run my own business but am always there to support my children whenever they need me.
How do you spend your relaxation or downtime?
I love spending time with my best friend Sarah and her children.
It’s great to sit in my garden with a glass of wine, although it does mean that I have to cut the grass!