Jignite, the first 100 days of starting-up

Jim van Hulst has worked in several leadership functions at EY, ING Bank, ABN AMRO Bank, and Johnson Controls International. His positions have included Director Talent Management, Global Head Professional Development, and Global Learning Technology Leader. Jim has an MSc. in Learning Technology from the University of Sheffield and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Arnhem/Nijmegen. He also holds a diploma in Business Management and Leadership from the Rotterdam School of Management, and he completed his MBA in 2020 from MSM, The Netherlands. He is a frequently asked speaker and author of numerous articles. Jim founded Jignite recently in 2021.

Jim van Hulst, owner Jignite

Jignite, the first 100 days

President Biden gave his 100 days speech for congress this month. I do my 100 days for a smaller audience, and my observations are mine. They may not be applicable for everyone as the context of business for the reader may be different. First of all, I am lucky to have now a full schedule with various exciting clients to work for, but this did not happen quickly; it took time. Let me share with you the story of my first 100 days.

  1. Build your brand

I spoke to many people in recent months, and all loved the name Jignite; they could identify why I chose it and found it a creative find. It took some time to come up with it though. I used the dictionary, puzzled on post-it notes, made sure the name was available for a website, and not been taken by another company, etc. I also protected the name in the Benelux for the next ten years. It will cost you around 600 euro, but you are sure you get some sort of protection. If you do not know the name Jignite, let me explain. A Jig has many meanings but is also a small jump. To ignite is to bring energy inside, a spark. In addition, Jignite also refers to Jim: in short: Jim ignites and wants to bring movement and a spark inside your business. It is a nice story to tell to clients. All business leaders know, you need stories to make a first connection. The feedback that I received from prospects, friends and family was positive.

  1. Build your product(s)

After establishing the brand name and designing the logo (using the spark), I build the website. I did around 80 percent of the work myself but needed some help with getting the content on the servers and some specialized items related to optimizing the website for tablets and phones. This process of webdesign is challenging. The last website I build was ten years ago, and there is currently much new software available which you have to learn watching YouTube videos, very time-consuming to do but effective and cheap. The website took me around 20 days to complete as I wanted to have it in English and Dutch. A website has many widgets (pieces of software) that you can get for free but it has additional features if you pay as you get more services and security. The website costed me around 1200 euro to build and I paid the specialist around a 1000 euro for his services as well.

I started with designing my training programs and posted downloadable summaries of this offer on my website. I hired a designer to create the layout for the one-pagers and the brochures, as this is not my core quality. This costed around 1200 euro as I had 12 documents in two languages. We had several versions before we had completed and finalized the layout and offer. When all was completed, I send out invites to a mix of people within my LinkedIn network to inform them about my availability and what I had to offer. But it stayed relatively still the first month.

  1. Decide your prices

What is your price? Difficult to name one price as all assignments have different durations and efforts. I listed myself to many agencies who all use their own margins as well which you have to take into account. The hour price for work in the education field fluctuates between 70 and 150 euro per hour. Long-term work is cheaper than short term, so you have to personally decide what you need for yourself to live from. I heard an excellent formula from a friend to calculate your hour price by taking your last annual salary and dividing this by 1000 for a good indication. I am currently working for three clients with very different requests and different lengths of assignments therefore I have different prices.

  1. Do not wait. Your clients will not come by themselves

Do not wait for someone to call you; take action yourself all the time. If they call you, great, but waiting by the phone for someone to contact you is depressing. So stay busy and keep working on your products, your website, your network and stay on top of things. I also did a lot of stuff for free, e.g. free lectures for a University or free coaching. I did this for two reasons: to extend my network and for my brand. So I posted on LinkedIn that I lectured, and students replied to this message with their comments. Especially when you did an excellent job in their eyes, you will get more attention which helps build your brand and reputation. I was lucky with some great comments which ultimately gave me my first assignment via one of them. The second assignment was also via my network. I have seen a vacancy in a company and I knew a person working there. I asked this person if he could provide my resume to the hiring manager. He could have declined but he did not and eventually I got this long term assignment for a large International financial company.

Closing

Treating people how you would like to be treated is something that I do for many years. It starts paying off as I am fully booked. I also found out that people whom you did not expect to reach out to you with a request for support did, and the ones you expected to reach out, did not. So I hope I gave you some food for thought about Jignite. Good luck with your own business!

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