First things first, who are you and what do you do?
I’m Cristina, the owner of CVG Solutions an award winning GDPR consulting business. We pride ourselves in providing the building blocks to take an established business to the next level of its maturity enabling them to demonstrate alignment to best practices, recognised methodologies, frameworks and standards that will attract bigger clients. We are based in south Lincolnshire but operate nationally, in fact we have just signed a large contract based in Manchester.
Our customer portfolio is varied, and each business is unique so we have 3 main pillars that are customisable according to the client’s needs.
- Project work such a full GDPR implementation, process mapping, ITILv4 implementation etc.
- Retainer services from just annual audits to full DPO and business consulting
- Training which can be bespoke or off the shelf via our e-learning platform
Our operating model allows us to do all the work which means that the client can carry on working on and in their business. Our solutions apply to any business no matter the industry or whether it’s manufacturing or services. We tend to work with organisation with a turnover of £3 or £5 million and over.
Our mission is to enable our clients to be on par with the bigger organisations from a strategic and operational perspective.
What made you set up Start-Talk-Grow?
Starting your own business is exciting and terrifying at the same time. While you know and are very good at what you do, you don’t necessarily know how to go about starting a company from choosing a name that does not infringe trademarks, to how to package your products, what you are going to charge, how you are going to market your products and services, what image do you want to portray, and the list goes on. There is so much to learn and consider so I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful if a new start up or young business could go to one place to get all the information, support and advice needed? I also wanted to give back to the community. So I started contacted like minded business owners and asked them whether they would be interested joining in, the rest is history as they say 😊
What inspired you to start your business?
I have worked in corporate organisations all of my career and that has generated great opportunities for me in terms of career progression, personal development and connection. I reached a point where I was not learning anymore, the challenge wasn’t there anymore, I needed a new stimulus.
As it happened the new regulation on data protection (GDPR) had just come out and the organisation I was working for at the time, like many organisations, had limited time to implement the regulation across the business. In my role of Head of Data Governance, the responsibility to implement it across the UK and Europe fell on me.
At this point, I realised that while the corporate organisations have the resources and the means to put in place what is required the small business do not stand a chance. Most of them do not even realise that it applies to them. I saw an opportunity where I could make expertise to use to those that needed it the most.
So I started with free awareness workshops both face to face and online and I’m proud to say that we have helped many businesses including charities and not for profit organisation. Since then, our portfolio of services has expanded enabling us to help and support a wider spectrum of client ranging from micro to larger businesses. We have also won an award as ‘best GDPR consulting business of the year ‘which we are very proud of.
What makes you different from others in your field?
Since the regulation came into force GDPR consultants have grown and it’s become a rather competitive market. What makes us different is that we bring a range of alternative expertise that support and complement GDPR such as risk management, project management, change management, process re-engineering, ISO 27001 to name a few which other consultants might have one or two but all. We also have different levels of expertise within the team enabling us to meet different requirements and budgets.
What are the greatest achievements you’ve had in your business?
We have had the pleasure of working with amazing clients which have generated some fantastic opportunities for us and for them resulting in business growth and more importantly in a more mature culture. For us this is what gives us great satisfaction, why we do what we do. When a customer at the end of the journey is ready for the next level of their maturity, we know that we have done a good job and look forward to helping and supporting them into the next challenge.
What did you wish you knew when you started that you have learned along the way?
The value of my knowledge and experience – “my worth”. I don’t justify my prices anymore nor do I feel that perhaps I have charged too much. First of all, I charge the going rate, secondly, they pay for my knowledge and expertise which in order to acquire it I have invested a lot of effort, money, sweat and tears over the years and continue to do so as I’m a strong believer in continues development. For some organisation cost can be an issue so I offer affordable payment plans or breakdown the work into realistic and affordable stages. It would have been fantastic if S-T-G existed back then, and that is the reason that inspired me to put S-T-G together.
The quick-fire round
Which is your favourite social media platform
I don’t really have a favourite as such. For business, in particular my line of business, I found LinkedIn to be the best and have acquired a few clients through this channel.
I tend to use Facebook and Instagram for personal use to keep in touch with friends and family.
What is the best bit of work kit you have?
My iPhone – I would be lost without it
What was the best piece of advice you were given when you first started? And by whom?
I was chit chatting with my farrier, David Rose, one day while he was trimming my horse’s feet about me starting a GDPR consulting business. He advised me to have recognised qualifications under your belt to set me apart from the ‘wannabe ‘
This advice has proven so valuable
Imagine you’ve been given an unexpected day off – how will you spend it?
I’ll go on a hack with my horse – I love spending time with him in the countryside
Which is your while-you-work drink of choice?
Coffee, definitely coffee! Being Italian it could hardly be anything else
Which is your favourite business book?
I don’t really have a favourite, I read them to gain knowledge on how to run and promote my business.
What is your secret to success?
To be open to opportunities
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