Meet the Business Terrace’s new business advisor!

This month, we give a warm welcome to Chris Lyle who joins the Business Terrace as the new Business Advisor. In this Q&A, we find out a bit more about Chris, what her role involves and how she’s looking forward to helping businesses in Maidstone to thrive.

  1. Tell us a bit about your experiences working with businesses
    I joined NatWest as a teenager and went on to have a 40-year career with the bank. I started out working in branches before moving on to business banking and later becoming a Business Manager. In 2016, I took on an exciting new entrepreneurial role in West Sussex as a Business Growth Enabler. This was a hugely varied job involving being a brand diplomat for the bank, organizing events, with plenty of networking and signposting.

    My years with NatWest gave me a huge amount of experience of supporting businesses and when I had the opportunity to leave in April of this year, I realised I wasn’t ready to stop helping people so I’m really excited to be working with Let’s Do Business Group and Maidstone Borough Council to do just that.

  2. What will your new position as business advisor involve?
    I’ll be based in the Business Terrace three days a week, on behalf of the Let’s Do Business Group, who are a Social Enterprise that helps businesses throughout the South East to start up and grow, providing advice /business support and finance.

    I am available to any Business Terrace client that needs help and support.  I will also be available to other local businesses or budding entrepreneurs who are starting out and looking for business advice. I’ll be signposting to other available business support including making connections with other local experts whether that’s accountancy, marketing, insurance or legal, for example. It’s all about making sure businesses have the best advice and support they can get – business is hard and my role is to make it easier!

  3. What have you achieved in your career that you’re most proud of?
    When I first took up my previous role as Business Growth Enabler, my new patch was Crawley and West Sussex, an area I didn’t know, having worked in Kent for many years. From knowing no one and starting from scratch, I built an entirely new network from nothing. Leaving the bank to take up my new position working with Let’s Do Business Group, I posted on LinkedIn and I was amazed at the huge amount of supportive messages I received – I felt proud that I’d really cracked Crawley/West Sussex.

    My predecessor, Roger, created a great network in the Maidstone business community and I’m really looking forward to tapping into this and replicating what I’ve done before by building up a wide and strong group of connections to help the local business community.

  4. What general advice would you give to businesses?
    My three top tips are:

    - Use your business plan as a working tool and update it regularly. It's not just a document that you use to support a funding application and then forget about - it's really useful for keeping you on track!

    - Know your customer - they should come first, not the product. Find the demand in the market and develop and adapt your offering to fit it - don't try to shoehorn a product or service into a gap that isn't there.

    - You can't always be a jack of all trades and that's ok! It's tempting to try to do it all yourself, especially if you're working alone but you don't have to be good at everything. Embrace your weakness and don't be afraid to outsource them to an expert.

  5. Tell us a bit about you and what you enjoy in your spare time
    Although I previously worked in Sussex, I live in Tunbridge Wells and I am very pro-Kent. I feel very loyal to the county so it’s lovely to be working here again.

    In my spare time, I enjoy walking and the countryside, I am not a great sportsperson, but I really love swimming – wild water swimming is on my bucket list.  The closest I’ve got is when I swam in the local lido in Cliftonville, Margate where my daughter lived, it felt like I was out at sea!

    I also love history. To me, it’s not a series of dates, it’s living and breathing all around us. I love the idea that everything we have now was either around in the past or originated there. The past influences the present and future.

  6. How can businesses get in touch with you?
    I’m happy to meet face to face, on the phone or via video call. I’ll be based at the Business Terrace from Tuesday to Thursday so feel free to pop in for a chat between 9.30am – 4.30pm. You can call on 01622 239300 or book online https://www.businessinmaidstone.co.uk/help-support/our-business-advisors/  My direct email is chris.lyle@ldbgroup.co.uk