Sarah Platt is a Founder and Commercial Partner at Firehaus. Having found her natural home in creatively led businesses, Sarah combines her finance and commercial skills with her understanding of marketing to help businesses scale. Experienced at working with investors, marketers, founders and Boards, she is able to support businesses to become ‘investor ready’ ahead of a fundraise or sale.
Sarah is also a Qualified Chartered accountant (ICAEW) with 20+ years of post-qualification experience, and trained as an Auditor with Arthur Andersen.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I’m a Warwick Uni graduate and Qualified Chartered Accountant. I worked in audit then in industry, including 10 years in a marketing agency. I hugely enjoyed working in an SME/entrepreneurial/Creative environment. I then Co-founded brand consultancy, Firehaus – almost 4 years ago now.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Firehaus was the brainchild of Ian Bates and Nick. Bathram (my Co-Founders), but I’d always been interested in the idea of starting my own business or working for a start-up at some point in my career. I bumped into Nick on the bus into Bath one day, and long story short, became the fourth founding partner of Firehaus (myself and Beth Pope joining Ian and Nick).
How did you achieve awareness?
Primarily through our own networks – through Linked In, by attending events and by appointing a fabulous PR agency!
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We were self-funded initially with Director’s loans which have now been paid back. We’re had no external funding so far and have grown organically.
What are the key successes?
We survived Covid despite being a very young start-up when Covid struck. We have thrived since lockdown via organic growth that has largely come from client referrals. We moved into Engine Shed and found our home! The four founding partners remain the partners in the business.
We were incredibly excited to gain cycling brand Vittoria as a client and they’re now also friends to us here at Firehaus.
Getting to work in the Higher Education sector with universities and helping them be brave and bold as the partnership between academia and industry becomes more and more vital to the start-up ecosystem has also been a fantastic journey.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Overcoming losing most of our clients/projects as Covid/lockdown struck was a challenge. We were just starting to gain some real traction! We used the quieter times during Covid to reflect on our first few months in business – the clients we’d taken on, the work we’d done, how we’d delivered the work etc. We used the reflection time to really double down on our offering to clients and we were a stronger business with a stronger proposition coming out of lockdown as a result.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We want to continue to deliver great work for great clients. We will soon be growing the Firehaus team beyond the four founding partners which is hugely exciting.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Being a Founder can be very daunting. I’m personally very glad I didn’t ‘go it alone’. That said, if you are going it alone, get the right people around you to support you. Either way, I’d strongly recommend moving into a shared workspace as soon as possible on the journey. If you find the right space, they are hugely supportive environments full of other inspiring, motivating individuals and you will instantly feel less alone on your journey.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Talk to, and listen to, lots of people! Be open to learning all the time. Learn from other people’s successes and failures, from your own successes and failures. Set yourself goals, hold yourself accountable, evaluate your progress at regular intervals. Be clear on your mission, vision and values, these will help guide you and help you stay on track. Stay close to your numbers. Know your cash flow runway, your P&L forecast, new business pipeline value etc intimately.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- Barack & Michelle Obama – I have huge respect for them as role models, I have huge respect for their values, and I think they are outstanding people
- Rihanna – Her confidence, her energy, her talent, her business acumen…the list goes on…
- Bill Gates – For his ambition, work ethic and commitment to funding global health programs. Also, for his self-awareness and honesty (in his recent documentary)
- Deborah Meaden – for her support of entrepreneurs, for being an early role model for female investors, for her common sense and straightforwardness
- Steven Bartlett – I find his podcasts ‘The Diary of a CEO’ fascinating, from the guests interviewed to the questions asked and topics explored
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin” Tony Robbins
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” Mahatma Ghandi
“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realise your true potential” Barack Obama
“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs” Farrah Gray
“My goal is to build a life I don’t need a vacation from” Rob Hill Sr.
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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