Full name and business

Colum Lynch, Colum Lynch Photography

What is your career background and path?

I initially studied engineering and in fact my early career was spent in the car and aerospace industries in companies across the UK and Ireland.

I have always had an interest in photography, originally as a hobby but in recent years, as my skills and kit-bag grew, I started to consider it as a potential career. I began doing jobs at events for family and friends, weddings, christenings for example and as I began to get more weary of my old day job I started to seriously consider the leap into photography as a career. My timing wasn’t great though – four weeks after handing in my notice last February the pandemic struck and so there I was with a new career all planned in my head, and the world was shutting down!

How did you hear about the NMD Business programmes? What made you get involved?

After launching my business, a good friend who works in the Council messaged me about the Business Growth Programme and suggested I should apply. I knew starting out in business would be a steep learning curve, so I was really keen on any help available to me, and the Business Growth Programme looked like a great opportunity. In hindsight, getting accepted onto the programme was a real turning point in trying to grow a business from the ground up. That was the pivotal moment for me.

What was the support / process like?

The application process was very straightforward and I was quickly accepted onto the programme, starting with the Business Resilience Programme workshops, delivered by Full Circle Management Solutions. Of course, it was all delivered online and covered things like crisis and stress management, personal resilience, time and project management and mental health. For someone like myself, starting a business from scratch, these workshops were ideal, and it was really useful to see how other local businesses were dealing with, and working through, the lockdown. It was a real eye-opener for me, and I was inspired by the can-do attitude of the other participants, with many taking the opportunity to innovate and refocus their businesses.

In addition to the workshops, the Business Resilience Programme also included one-to-one mentoring, where I was mentored by Martin Magennis of Full Circle. For me, this was hugely beneficial.

How have you benefitted from the programme?

Alongside the workshops and the mentoring, I also made some business contacts which quickly turned into commercial photo shoots so there was an immediate tangible benefit as well as the learning.

I also went on to enrol in the Tender for Growth Programme, which included more one-to-one mentoring, which proved crucial as I headed into my second 6 months in business. Regular reviews and strategic discussions with my mentor encouraged me to knock on many doors and put me in touch with industry leaders that I wouldn’t ordinarily have had the chance to speak with. One such example has led to several shoots for the Irish Farmer’s Journal, the first of which was actually a cover shoot for their Irish Country Living magazine – certainly one of the highlights from my first year in business. To put it simply, that would not have come about without this programme.

The NMD Business Programmes have really helped me push my business forwards, enabling me to grow the business despite extremely difficult circumstances as a result of the pandemic. My marketing strategies and online presence have all benefitted from help and guidance received under the programmes.

I know I still have a lot to learn but I feel more resilient and better equipped to deal with, and even take advantage of, crisis circumstances.

What was the best thing about the programme?

For me, the one-to-one mentoring was invaluable – starting a photography business from scratch in the midst of a global pandemic was never going to be easy, but having Martin’s help, advice and encouragement was absolutely key for me to persevere with it and push myself to take chances and try things well outside my comfort zone.

What would you say to any businesses thinking about joining the programmes?

For any business, start-up or not, thinking about joining the programme, I would advise them to stop thinking about it and get their application in. You won’t regret it. It’s a great opportunity to have a fresh set of eyes cast over your business – and there’s a good chance you’ll come away with new ideas, opportunities, contacts and a different perspective on your business.

The NMD Business Programmes have been a big part in making Colum Lynch Photography’s first year a successful one.