Ten Minutes With – Dan Matthews

We caught up with Dan of Black Lab Software and talked about his time being self employed and how The Guild helped, his exciting launch of Inbread (One to look out for) and got some incredible top tips along the way!

We start with the crucial question, what’s your favourite Leonardo Di Caprio Movie?

That’s a tough one, he’s been so good in a lot of films. I think The Departed doesn’t get enough shout outs though, it’s a great film all around, and he’s a key player in why it’s so brilliant.

Give us a run-down of how your business has grown with any major turning points or highlights

I’ve been self employed before, but this time around I was thrust into it with little warning after I was made redundant – that changes the way you approach things. I had some great connections with older clients, and some really helpful past colleagues who tipped me off to this new place opening soon – “The Guild”, you might have heard of it? I’m honestly not being paid to say this, but I genuinely think The Guild was key to establishing relationships with people who have put the word out about my business and helping me land on my feet – 100% of my work comes from word-of-mouth referrals, so being part of a community that pushes work to each other is crucial. Growth since those early days has been steady, and I now have a network of 30-40 clients, with most coming back for recurring work or even just to ask for advice, which is always nice to know they trust me enough to do that.

So, we have to ask what is your favourite thing about the Guild?

The Guild is just very welcoming – it’s become what a coworking space should be – an office of familiar faces for everyone who works there, but for no specific company. I feel like I can drop in there and be welcomed with a cup of tea and catch up with how people are before getting my head down and getting some work done. But the biggest benefit is being able to sanity check my ideas and issues with other people in the space – not banging your head against a problem alone is worth it’s weight in gold.

If a kid walked up to you, asking for your life advice and you only had a few minutes to give it. What would it be?

If a kid walked up to me and asked me, there’d be one thing that hits me every time:

“Be Less Afraid.”

I know it’s harder said than done, but it makes such a difference. Things are usually less scary than what you build them up in your head to be.

The big question is what’s next for your business?

I’m attempting to launch a food business on the side, on an absolute shoestring. Inbread is going to be a local bakery providing sourdough bread and more to local stockists and restaurants – it started as a hobby but there’s been real demand for it. The web development stuff will continue to run alongside – I just like having some variation in what I do!

Try to explain coworking to someone who didn’t know what it is?

You go into an office, but the people there don’t work for the same business as you. Instead, some work for other businesses, and some work for themselves. If you work for yourself, the vibe tends to be one of helping each other, and co-operating to make things better for all of you.

Finally what are your three top tips for business?

  • Be honest, but not too honest.
  • Be generous, but not to the point where you don’t get paid what you’re worth.
  • Be yourself as much as you can, people buy into people, not brands.
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