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There are several networking and business support organisations available to Sussex businesses and it is important to find the right environment for your business now, but also for your business moving forward.
We are here for those that want to grow, engage in a range of helpful events, use our services (helplines and online portals) grow your network, get local and national business information, training… the list is long. Our membership has never offered so much for so little in cost.
So, if you call us to learn about membership – who is the on the other end of the phone?
Who are you?
My name is James, I am forty-four, father of three, husband of one, scout leader, outdoor lover, wild camper, spoon whittler, forest school leader and Alan Partridge fan. A-HA!
I am a proud member of the Sussex Chamber membership team and I think I have the best job of everyone in the organisation… that said several people are quite passionate about what they do here, so I don’t like to shout about it too much. I love meeting people and learning about the dynamic businesses we have in Sussex. Makes me proud!
What was your first experience of business?
At the age of 9 years old I noticed that one ‘product’ I had around me in abundance was frogspawn, or more specifically tadpoles. Keen to fund my addiction to 1p sweets I enthusiastically launched my tadpole business.
As you might imagine I failed to write a business plan, do any market research, and did not give a thought to a SWAT analysis.
I sat outside my house on the grass verge trying in vain to interest passers-by. Demand was not as strong as I had imagined. As day became evening, I retired to the house having carefully made a sign and put it outside the front door advertising the opportunity to purchase “your very own tadpoles at only 50p each – enquire within”. I am not sure I got my price-point right as my only sale was to my sister. She did get a free jam-jar with her purchase so despite my other siblings suggesting I give Beth her money back - I felt she had received good value. Besides, I had costs. After a few days of unsuccessful promotion and sitting outside I was left with a LOT of excess stock which was growing bigger each day and needed more care than I really wanted to give. I learnt early about the pressures of being a parent and with my 10th birthday around the corner I did not want to be tied down by responsibility.
Two weeks later I put a large ice cream container in my backpack and carried my amphibious friends/children to the nearest pond. Having released way more frogs than sensible into that amount of water I was momentarily concerned for the frog’s welfare. My BMX had only taken me a few yards down the road before I realised there was mass murder occurring as Robins, Blackbirds (and some fish I think) chowed down on the free food. I felt terrible.
It took me about a decade to understand where I had gone wrong, but I have not revisited the idea since… if anyone reading this wants to give the tadpole business a go – I am happy to come onboard as a consultant.
What job role have you found most satisfying?
Without doubt every role I have had which enables me to help others is hugely fulfilling. Working here at the Chamber falls very much in that category. From helping those who are at breaking-point and just need support and direction to those aggressively growing their business (and everything in between). It makes me feel good to know that someone is in a better position than before we spoke. I am not Iron man (or Robert Downey Jr sadly) – I am no hero, but in my own humble way my desire is to help and usually I (well, the Chamber) CAN!
Before the Sussex Chamber I worked for several years for children’s charities. Predominately my role was managing Sports and Challenge Events but I also spent time discussing with businesses how they can positively impact and support those in need in their community. I am still amazed at how few organisations have given thought to corporate social responsibility. It isn’t always about money, there are so many ways to make a positive difference. My time in the charity sector was very satisfying and an impactful period of my life. Looking ahead as Covid releases its grip on our community – I’d like to see where I can volunteer my time to make a difference in rebuilding some of the benefits/services we as a community have enjoyed.
What message do you want to give to the readers
I come in peace. If I make contact with you please don’t be guarded and defensive, relax! My only agenda is to share with you more about the Chamber to remove the mystery and make you aware of our services. Membership with us may or may not be helpful to you, (it makes no difference to me either way) my ask is for a few minutes to give you the information you need to see if we can help you gain new business, trade internationally, save money, broaden your network, provide funding information… or whatever your objectives might be.
If you have 20-25 minutes and want to progress your business – give me a call and have a ‘chilled chat’ (said like Alan Partridge) and see if the Sussex Chamber can contribute something helpful to your journey.
We are a Sussex focussed, business support organisation. We are here to help.
Think you know what the Sussex Chamber does? Are you sure? Why not speak to James and find out more… he’ll probably share one of his other stories, if you are lucky.
James Gaydon – Customer Relationship Executive
01444 227 091