Monica is founder of HATCH, a human analytics and change consultancy that specialises in the future of work, as well as the author of the best-selling book The Power of Wonder. She has been quoted for a number of publications including The Economist, Forbes, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, and is a workplace authority for CNN, BBC Radio and BBC Worldwide. Her early career was punctuated by her work as a homicide investigator defending death row inmates for Florida’s Department of Justice, and her current role as founder of HATCH is to inspire positive action to make work life better.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
HATCH is a human analytics and change consultancy and we specialize in the future of work. We started the business about ten years ago with the goal of making work-life better. We take a very data-driven and yet human centred approach to our projects, and all our consultants are either ex-clients or have an advanced degree in the social sciences. We do this work because we believe with better work comes a better world.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I was working for a larger design company and became frustrated with the lack of rigour many design companies were applying to change management, treating humans as widgets. So we set out to create a human-centred change consultancy.
How did you achieve awareness?
We had a solid reputation in the field we entered before starting our business. I also grow awareness through my speaking.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We decided very early on that we would not take investors. We focused on getting the basics right so we could bootstrap until such point as we choose to exit. Learn how truly lean you can be so growth isn’t squandered.
What are the key successes?
Just keeping the doors open for ten years is a success, when the majority of small businesses fail within the first three years. Having Hatchlings on four continents was a big milestone, as was having clients on all continents (except Antarctica!) Having a client approach us to buy the company was also a big indicator of our success.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
- Finding clients: For a consulting company, finding new clients can be a challenge, especially in the early stages. We have never used a sales team, so it was important for us to have a clear target market and messaging, develop a strong brand presence, and build relationships with potential clients through networking, referrals, and outreach.
- Managing cash flow: Cash flow can be a challenge for consulting companies due to the variable nature of projects and payment schedules. It is important to maintain a healthy cash reserve, set clear payment terms with clients, and have a system in place for timely invoicing and follow-up. Refuse clients that set unreasonable terms like 180 days.
- Ignore the competition: Consulting is a competitive industry, and it can be a challenge to differentiate your company from others in the market, but that wastes resources. Have a clear value proposition, stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices, and continuously innovate and improve services to meet evolving client needs. Don’t focus on the others.
- Building and retaining a team: Building and retaining a strong team of consultants can be a challenge, especially for small consulting companies. It is important to have a clear company culture and values, and recognise who is and is not a good fit. Sometimes the most lovely, well-qualified person simply wants a bigger organisation with more layers for growth.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We are finding our work in the EDIB sphere incredibly rewarding and are enjoying expanding that offering. We also want to focus on more holistic skills building like wonder at work which is a program that looks at building leadership qualities such as empathy, authenticity, and humility.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
It is never too late. Data shows people 40 and over make the best entrepreneurs.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Don’t quit your day job until you have six months operating capital.
- Never lose sight of cash flow.
- Institute a ‘no jerks’ rule for employees, partners and even clients.
- Get to a point where you can fire clients who are jerks.
- Focus on the freedom. You may not make the same money as you would in a high-flying corporate gig, but don’t forget the freedom entrepreneurship provides you with.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
You cannot go on indefinitely being an ordinary decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. – CS Lewis
[This is where the name of the company comes from.]
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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