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Starting a Business Consulting Firm with Matthew Curtis, Founder of M4C Ltd.

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Esther is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, educator, and management advisor.

Starting a Business Consulting Firm with Matthew Curtis, Founder of M4C Ltd.

In today’s installment of our Entrepreneurial Spotlight Series, we sit down with Matthew Curtis, the Managing Director at M4C Ltd. Positioned in the heart of the North East UK, M4C Ltd is not just another business consultancy. They are profoundly committed to problem-solving, tailoring business support and advice that meets each client’s unique requirements.

Matthew Curtis headshot

Matthew’s journey from the corporate hustle and traveling week after week to establishing a business closer to his heart and home is both insightful and inspiring. The driving force? A desire to spend more time doing what he truly loves, away from the politics of corporate structures. Through his narrative, we gain an understanding of the importance of networking, the wisdom behind building a professional team, and the essence of providing genuine value in the market.

Whether you are an established entrepreneur, an aspiring businessperson, or simply curious about the entrepreneurial journey, Matthew’s candid conversation promises a wealth of insights. Dive in as he shares the highs, lows, lessons learned, and vision for the future of M4C Ltd.

Business Formation Story

SBS – Can you share the story behind the formation of your business? 

Matthew – After 25 years in corporates, I had risen to the MD job I thought I always wanted. I traveled all week long across the UK and internationally and found that I was spending less and less time doing the things I really enjoyed and am passionate about, both in and outside of work. I decided that I wanted to change that and that if I jumped into another corporate role, it would be likely that, in a couple of years, I would be saying to myself, “How did I get here again?”

Matthew Curtis hiking with a dog

Overcoming Initial Hurdles

SBS – What challenges did you face in the initial stages of your business, and how did you overcome them? 

Matthew – My business network knew me well from the businesses I had worked for but not for offering services such as consultancy and coaching. My business network was also not local to my home in the north of England, as I had spent so many years traveling on business. To overcome this challenge, I was very active in local networking groups and on platforms such as LinkedIn, re-connecting with ex-colleagues and clients, updating them on what I was doing, and several were able to make introductions for me that led to paid projects. I was also offering some pro-bono consultancy to charities and gained valuable testimonials from them.

Unique Selling Point

SBS – How do you differentiate your products/services in your market? 

Matthew – I differentiate my services in the market by offering clients a bespoke solution to their problems, a solution that often draws upon my unique experience, academic grounding, and network. I’m also quick to recommend clients to other providers that might be a better fit for them or to signpost them to other solutions that might work well for them at low or no cost. I feel that part of giving good advice is saying to prospective clients, “I actually don’t think you need me for this.”

Entrepreneurial Routine

SBS – As an entrepreneur, what does a typical day look like for you? 

Matthew – A typical day usually starts around 6:30am with a 30–40 minute dog walk across the fields. I usually then check emails, the news, and social media before getting into the first piece of client work around 8:00am. Depending upon what’s on that day, I might work from my home office, the M4C office, or at the client’s premises.

Generally, each day has three key elements — billable client work, business development and network building/maintenance, and non-billable work in or on M4C. Most days, I spend the evenings at home or out enjoying one of my leisure interests (cycling, power boating, and walking), with typically only one or two nights away on business trips, which feels like a good balance for me.

Team building activities

Driving Force

SBS – What was the driving force or the main motivation behind starting your own business? 

Matthew – I wanted to spend much more of my work time doing things I really enjoy, am passionate about, and that provide me with a mix of challenges. It’s also great to be able to be involved in improving clients’ businesses without having to be part of any politics.

Business Structure Decision

SBS – What made you decide to form an Ltd. for your business? 

Matthew – Becoming a limited company felt like the right vehicle for building a professional services business that wouldn’t necessarily be all about me.

Team Building and Hiring Criteria

SBS – How did you build your team? What qualities do you look for when hiring employees? 

Matthew – Our first hire came about through a government-backed scheme that was helping young people get into work after the end of the COVID pandemic. It worked really well, and the organization has grown as a loose virtual organization utilizing a trusted team of associates with complementary skill sets, but all with drive, enthusiasm, and the courage to challenge the status quo.

M4C Ltd Employees

Customer Acquisition and Marketing Evolution

SBS – How did you find your first customers, and how have your marketing strategies evolved since then? 

Matthew – The very first customer was an interim role I took on, and one of the businesses they partnered with was so impressed with what they observed that they then asked me to work with them on a revenue growth project. Since the early days, success has come from network referrals and word of mouth, some social media, and successful tender bids. As a company, we spend very little on paid advertising but maintain a presence at several networking organizations that have served us well.

Advice for Small Business Starters

SBS – What advice would you give someone considering starting a small business today? 

Matthew – Make sure that you have a business idea that solves a customer problem that they are prepared to pay for. Don’t undervalue your own time, skills, and experience. If you think a client will be really hard to work with, don’t be tempted to because you want the turnover— it won’t be worth the pain.

SBS – If you had the chance to start another business, would you choose the same structure again? Why or why not? 

Matthew – It would depend on the type of business. I would evaluate what structure would be best depending on the business.

Future Goals

SBS – What are your future goals? 

Matthew – To continue to build M4C’s reputation for providing bespoke solutions that make a real difference to people’s businesses and to their leadership.


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Starting a Business Consulting Firm with Matthew Curtis, Founder of M4C Ltd.