Red Planet Publishing – A Transform Journey

25th January, 2018

Based at Tremough Innovation Centre in Penryn, Transform coach Helen Stembridge has been working with client Mark Neeter CEO of Red Planet Publishing through the Entrepreneurs in Residence program. Set up in 2014, Red Planet Publishing publishes books about contemporary music. Mark has built the business to a team of five, and it’s growing fast.

Helen has been assisting Mark on many levels of the business. As part of her role Helen has managed Mark’s access to other Oxford Innovation business coaches as well as our partners such as Unlocking Potential and Access to Finance.  Unlocking Potential provide recruitment support and access to training. Access to Finance  works with businesses like Red Planet to develop funding opportunities.

“When we met Helen and Oxford Innovation our priority  was to look at what she could do to assist us in our business expansion. Helen was able to help form a strategy from the strands of what we were doing and helped bring real focus to our practical developments. What she helped strip away was important as what we are doing. She also introduced Unlocking Potential, who have helped with funding staff we have now been able to hire and also provide funded training support.”
– Mark Neeter

With the help of Unlocking Potential, Red Planet has a growing team. – a challenge for any business owner. Moving from being a “one man band” using sub-contractors to having its own team has been challenging.  Turning the  staff into a cohesive team has been one of the successes of working with Oxford Innovation.

Red Planet Publishing

Our recruitment has been really successful and with the right training the company is already seeing staff expand their areas of responsibility and take on new roles with the possibility of managing new staff and subcontractors.

“It’s important that the business understands who it’s staff are and how to keep them happy. For me in a creative business it’s important to be a ‘people person’ who can bring the team with the business and share ideals to deliver measured goals.”
– Mark Neeter

Helen has supported Mark by bringing in the Business Model Canvas, a globally recognised tool which covers all business areas in a clear and structured way, and used often by our coaches providing strong results. This canvas embodies aspects of your business that can help identify areas requiring development.

Helen Stembridge

“Red Planet have evolved quickly since 2014. They have a great deal of creative ideas and a huge passion for and focus on the contemporary music scene. The coaching sessions have helped Red Planet to concentrate on developing a robust five-year plan to support their growth, underpinned by a sales and marketing plan with defined timescales. The Business Model Canvas provided the ability to prioritise, structure and create timelines to help the business plans become more meaningful, measurable and tangible.”
– Helen Stembridge

“Because the business is moving quickly and changing fast, things that worked well a few months ago no longer seem to work as well.  We’ve noticed we need to move on and change how we do things, and Helen’s very good at helping me to see alternative ways of working, and ways of developing what we’re doing in a more professional and organised manner. She also coaches and motivates me so that I feel empowered and personally more able to deliver what the business needs.”
– Mark Neeter

With a new aggressive growth plan for the next five years, and a firm vision of where they want to be, Helen is supporting Mark in establishing what they need to do to achieve their goals by developing structure for the business. Moving from everything handled by one person to a diverse team requires a layer of organisation so everyone knows their role.

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“Putting new systems in place was the major challenge, but we’re now looking at where the flaws in the system are. It turned out that one of these weaknesses was a supplier who is not being as flexible as we required. Now we’ve improved what we do, we can work with them to improve this situation or find an alternative.”
– Mark Neeter

Strategic planning, prioritisation, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely) objectives, and planning a timeline have been key components in Helen’s work with Red Planet Publishing. After establishing where they want to take the business, it was a matter of implementing these objectives and actioning them before moving on.

“We do a lot of mentoring, personal mentoring, in terms of helping me to be a more effective manager, that’s a really important part of what Helen’s been doing. We’re already starting to see a more positive outcome from sales meetings, and should help us increase by about 200%, which is an enabler for other things to happen.”
– Mark Neeter

A fantastic sign of growth is in their turnover increase, which went from £180k to £300k within the six months Helen has been working with them. They’re now forecasting a similar percentage growth for the next financial year, estimating their turnover to be at half a million by 2019. They’re also hoping to see their American sales double, and potentially surpass their UK sales in the next two years.

“Oxford Innovation are getting involved at every level. Red Planet Publishing has huge potential, all the passion, drive and intelligence you need in a growing business. It’s just about helping to create a structure and a delivery for a defined outcome.”
– Helen Stembridge

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