WHAT does it take to make a business work? We have looked at one successful company that was established just over a year ago by two colleagues who met when working as police officers and decided to branch out into the world of business.

Mark Pannone and Zoe Billings established Adapt and Evolve Consultancy in August 2022, after spending their whole careers in the public sector.

The pair have had a glowing first year in business, with over 1,000 people engaging with the business in the last year and a 100% recommendation rate from those that have taken part in the workshops.

Adapt and Evolve runs workshops and courses which help businesses and organisations to thrive; in turn reducing absence, promoting retention and improving performance.

Talking about the last year, Mark said: “Zoe and I worked together in the police and realised that the skills and knowledge we had gained as police leaders would be useful to a wider audience, so we had this idea of setting up a business together, which resulted in us coming together as Adapt and Evolve Consultancy.

“Our journey over the past year has been really interesting, neither of us had our own businesses previously, we had both worked in the police and public sector, but when you are in the big, bad world on your own, you realise a lot of your assumptions about how to make a business a success really gets challenged.”

Zoe said: “We are absolutely passionate about helping businesses be the best in their field and we have had amazing results this year from how we do it; it’s been really good fun.”

And what’s for the future of the business? With year one complete Adapt and Evolve has hinted at exciting times on the horizon.

Mark said: “We are still new, we are very much learning, and the next year is going to be very exciting, so watch this space! There will be developments, but while we are still enjoying it and sticking to that mantra of what we are trying to achieve, which is reducing sickness, improving performance and supporting the retention of staff, then we will keep doing this.”

Mark and Zoe’s top tips for starting out in business:

1) When you’re trying to sell any product or business idea you must only focus on the needs of the client.

2) Be flexible in your services, tailor to what other people want.

3) Invest in networking and building relationships with people.

4) Don’t be scared to ask people for feedback on what your client wants.

5) Persevere and build resilience.

6) Focus on what your business does well and what your business gets successes from.

7) Always be open to new opportunities - even when they may not fit in your ‘plan’.

8) Never stop learning - always be inquisitive about new ideas.

9) Don’t always see people who work in a similar arena as competitors - see them as a ‘body of knowledge’ and a collective community to improve ideas and services.

10) Explore help and support that can be provided to you through organisations such as the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and Chamber of Commerce.

11) Love what you do – have a passion for your business.

12) Make it clear what you do and why it will help others. Have a look at our website to see if we achieve that! (www.adaptandevolve.co.uk)