Q&A with The Trove Cambridge

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were starting out what would it be?

This week we chatted with our sponsor, local Business Developer Clare Morris, to find out about when she started her business, what drives her to do what she does, her passion for keeping in touch with clients beyond the project work – and much more. We are also pleased to announce an exciting partnership going forward through which we will be collaborating to bring members of #WeAreCambsCreatives exclusive offers – check out this month’s competition and Q&A below!

CMR work with small and independent businesses giving advice on how to streamline processes and systems, addressing change, looking at how you can develop sustainably by being innovative, creating strategies to make ideas a reality and implementing support solutions. They also help to connect you with other independent businesses to complement gaps in your expertise.

Throughout the pandemic Clare has supported Cambridgeshire businesses who became overwhelmed and were dealing with change or loss of control as a result. She helped business owners to take a fresh look at their daily work practices, encouraged them to set new ways of thinking – and most importantly, celebrated their wins with them!

How long have you been running CMR and what led you to start your business?

Clare: “CMR has been established now for over 10 years and I am looking forward to the belated celebrations in 2021 as plans last year were unfortunately delayed due to COVID-19.

At the beginning of my career, I worked for large organisations who told their customers what they were going to do for them, rather than listening to the needs of each client and working with them to find a bespoke solution. I was so disheartened by their “one size fits all” attitude that I decided to step away from that type of business culture.

I then focused on short term contracts, one of my favourites being Habitat. At the time, they were dedicated to educating their consumers about the true value of their products; how they were designed, their colour, their texture, who they were made by and where. This 360-approach inspired me to go on to encourage my clients, at CMR, about the power of telling the whole story.

Then I joined a small, independent business that was striving to be heard against the corporate noise, eager to listen and learn from their customers and tailor their solutions to the need not greed.

That must have been a big leap. What did you take away from this move?

Clare: “It was a revelation and I have never looked back. Of course, that amazing business is still going strong and I will be forever grateful for what I experienced, whilst working with them. They have a great strength of character, together with unwavering confidence in who they are and where they want to be. I say, ‘of course’, because they have the perfect business model.

Their value, customer and key resource appreciation, enables them to make successful decisions – based on their knowledge and understanding of their community and their marketplace. When the forementioned business relocated I moved on, but I also found myself at a crossroads.

I was faced with the option of going back to the corporate world I knew before, when what I really wanted was to find another small business to employ me full-time; this is when CMR came into being. Incidentally, I still do freelance work for the independent company I championed earlier.

What does CMR offer?

Clare: “Although our service is founded on the business model canvas, we have stripped out the corporate babble and given it a human heart – and I think it really needed that. The results are that every individual or business owner comes away with a full appreciation of their business value and the techniques needed to effectively engage with their community; be that as a service, or an online or physical product.

Every business should know the value of the solution(s) they provide and be able to show clearly how they work to make life easier, better, faster, happier, healthier, etc. for their customers. My work process can be very organic, especially when getting to the crux of who the person is and what they want their business to truly achieve.

I never stop thinking about anyone I work with, there are always new ideas, opportunities and connections to be made and that is why “resource” is in my business name: to offer a continuous service and support even when our project is successfully completed.

Working with individuals and business owners, for me is a very creative process, it’s with humour and empathy, in a safe space where you can be open, authentic and talk about anything from your wildest dreams to your smallest challenges. Not many of us find it easy to talk about ourselves, which makes it even more powerful when you accept and appreciate just how amazing you and your skills are.

What drives you to do what you do?

Clare: “From extensive experience, we know how important it is for individuals and business owners to be confident about their individual brand, their worth and their potential. I am an absolute advocate of having a well-researched and honed business model.

Then, it’s about having the knowledge and empowerment to make minor or major changes for your customers, your service or the size of company – whilst factoring in all the essential elements that may be affected.  A way of trialling your ideas before launch; quickly, easily and efficiently.

I am personally motivated by being as green as possible – and provide clients with post-its from greenstat.co.uk!”

What types of businesses do you work with?

Clare: “I’ve been very fortunate to work with businesses ranging from coaching, entertainment, literature,  marketing, interior design, accounting, upholstery, healing and horticulture – so there is no one specific ‘type’ of business that I work with.

More often than not, our clients are new business start-ups wanting to ensure they have a clear understanding of their product and service values, alongside their customer base, business organisation and systems. We also work with small businesses who are experiencing overwhelming demand for their service, those who want to change focus or even upscale.

How can people get in touch with you, do you offer a consultation?

Clare: “I love Instagram and LinkedIn and most often use these platforms (but I do have a presence on Facebook and Twitter too). Also, the CMR website is where you can find more detail about how I work, alongside case studies with testimonials. We offer a free 30-minute consultation. This is a no pressure way for you to find out how I can best help and add value to your business.”

How have you had to adapt your business during the pandemic?

Clare: “We have been doing more of our work on Zoom, which has complemented our approach and way of working. Although we have been mindful of making our sessions shorter, with built-in breaks, time for ‘screen off’ chat or screen sharing visuals, to help reduce eye strain.

Also, where possible, we arrange outdoor meetings over a hot chocolate at places such as Urban Larder, Relevant Record Café and Eclipse Bakery on Mill Road in Cambridge – and further afield. Walking and talking is extremely productive and still forms part of working toward our goals and objectives. Nature has a wonderful way of freeing up our creative thoughts and it never stops surprising me how fruitful these walks can be.”

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were starting out what would it be?

Clare: “To have someone available to me who I trust and, most importantly, who listens to me. Anxiety or indecision is reduced significantly by talking openly, as well as having the space to air our concerns, ideas or difficulties.”

What are the key areas of support you can offer for small or independent creative businesses?

Clare: “We start by introducing calm and a sense of direction to your business and give you the tools and time to plan and clarify your goals and objectives. Once we are organised, anything is possible!”

What are the next steps for CMR?

Clare: “Using the website and social media, we will be sharing more video content and article recommendations to help you make your business processes run more smoothly. We will also share access to the tools to use for planning and timelining projects. There will be a collaborator section that freely shares advice from our partners in media, marketing, social media, finance and more. These are partners we have worked alongside, who understand how CMR works and offer the same expertise and kind support.”


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