Independent Oxford have been a pillar in the Oxford Community for the last five years. They have built a strong network of like-minded businesses who collaborate, encourage, and support each other. We had the honour of interviewing their co-founder Anna Munday over Instagram live. Anna shared some priceless information; below are some key takeaways.
Why Independent Oxford?
Since she was a child Anna desired to start a business. At a festival Anna met her future business partner Rosie Jacobs - at that point Anna was working as a marketing manager at the Old Fire Station and Rosie had been working in the retail industry with multinationals. They realised that there was no space for people to easily access a community of independent businesses or for those businesses to find a support network, so they created Independent Oxford.
What are the benefits and challenges of working in a partnership?
Anna mentioned that it is important to work in a partnership with someone with shared values to minimise friction. Also, in a partnership it is great to have someone who can support you emotionally through the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship. Finally, when in a partnership you can check and refine ideas which is harder to do as a solo entrepreneur.
Tips for creating a membership model?
When they first started Independent Oxford it was a free project and Anna and Rosie’s existing business connections were keen to take part. Those members quickly saw value in being part of the project, recommended Independent Oxford to other businesses, and from there a paid membership was launched to enable them to expand their offer to the 100s of independent businesses across Oxfordshire. A quality service, a care for customers and hard work have led Independent Oxford to grow to over 120 members. Anna and Rosie have also found that building face to face relationships from the start has been vital to the growth of the business.
How do you manage over 120 clients?
Anna recommended using Asana, or another task tool such as Trello, a web and mobile application designed to help teams organise, track, and manage their work.
Your lowest low?
Anna stated she was most frustrated when she was working full time whilst growing Independent Oxford. She did not feel valued at her workplace and knew that Independent Oxford was her passion. She made the decision to leave her job to go freelance to enable her to dedicate more time to Independent Oxford despite the risk and loss in income and has never looked back since.
Your highest high?
Partnering with the Oxford Council to set up a pop-up shop was a proud moment for Anna. The ‘Indie Oxford Market Place’ was filled with a collection of items from over 20 independent businesses based in Oxfordshire and provided a space to hosting workshops and talks for business owners; it was a huge success! This is a great lesson for business owners: It is important to connect with your local councils to see opportunities to collaborate and explore how they can help your business succeed.
Tips for businesses during the Lockdown
Anna’s key message to business owners is for them to not disappear, even if they cannot physically deliver their goods or service. She advised businesses to keep posting on social media even if it is reusing old content because once you have stopped it is hard to restart. Also, once the lockdown has been lifted it is important to be front of mind for prospects.
Secondly, Anna suggested that businesses should diversify. Many businesses have used the lockdown as an opportunity to sell their product or service online or providing takeaways or creating vouchers that businesses can use in the future.
Finally, businesses should not rush to make a decision. It is an unprecedented time, so it is okay to take time off if necessary.
If you would like to learn more about Independent Oxford you can find them via
www.independentOxford.com or on Instagram @IndependentOxford . Make sure to follow @IAMedia.uk on Instagram and sign up to our newsletter for more content about entrepreneurship and marketing.