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  • Brendan Shaw

Seriously? Already?: Shawview Consulting two years on

I passed a milestone the other day.

I had forgotten all about it, until LinkedIn kindly reminded me in one of those sometimes annoying pop-up reminders.

This was a surprise one sunny afternoon I hadn't expected.

Apparently, I have been running my own consulting business for two years.

(Pause .... )

After I picked myself up off the floor from the shock, I took a few minutes to reflect on this.

There was a time when I would never have imagined that I would be one of those people who goes out and creates a start-up business.

But here I am, two years later, still here and doing it.

It’s been a fascinating two years, with all the highs and lows you expect when starting a business from scratch …. and many you don’t expect.

If, as enlightened leaders often tell their organisations, we make mistakes so we can learn, then it's fair to say that I have learned a bucket load of things over the last two years.

There have been mistakes aplenty.

Whether it was taking on too many 'pro-bono' projects (read: projects with no revenue), forgetting to invoice one client (best not tell the wife about that one .... ), or causing my accountant to pull out all of what little hair he had left, it's been an 'experiential journey'.

For the first half of my professional career I advised governments, political parties and industries about business policy issues like finance, strategy, entrepreneurialism and business development.

Yet it's another thing entirely to be peering quizzically at your own company's monthly cash flow statement and wondering what the bloody hell happened.

But I am pleased to say that it is only occasionally now that logging into the business bank account feels more like looking up this week's lottery numbers than looking for invoices.

A learned colleague once told me that when you start your own business goodwill from contacts and friends will get you through the first two years.

After that your business needs to have a value proposition because the goodwill will run out.

Well, the two years came and went and, after a few minutes of tentatively looking up, the sky hadn't fallen on my head.

In fact, since I started the company it has grown.

We’ve run projects in four continents with teams of consultants working for a range of clients in the public, private and NGO sectors on pharmaceuticals and healthcare policy, public affairs, health economics, access to medicines and business strategy.

In the last two years we've done everything from advising clients on some nifty pricing strategies for medicines in low-income countries, worked with industry associations on health policy, facilitated policy workshops with pharmaceutical companies in India, helped companies understand the Chinese healthcare market, and in some cases told clients why they just needed to wake up and smell the coffee.

It also turns out that since I started the company two years ago I have written at least one blog every month, if you count this one today.

And while all of the blogs were brilliant, of course, some were wildly popular and others .... went down like a lead balloon.

But, hey, you can't be on point all the time.

And, interestingly, a look at the list of key words in the blog section of our website over the last two years reveals the recurring issues we are working on.

Words and phrases such as access to medicines, business, communication, democracy, disruption, finance, funding, government, health, leadership, management, medicine, pharmaceuticals, politics, price, strategy and universal health coverage seem to regularly appear in the blog space.

Looking back, these keywords reflect some of our broad philosophy: working with clients from different sectors on new models and solutions in the global health and pharmaceuticals space using good evidence and sometimes left-of-field thinking to get there.

Because I am convinced that humanity is only really going to solve many of the health problems confronting us if we find new and better ways to work together across different sectors.

We need to break down some of the silos that have traditionally plagued the global health debate.

And perhaps occasionally even have a bit of fun along the way.

This is where some of the quirkier words like Brexit, cricket, martians and music have come into play in the blogs.

Well, you need to get your laughs from somewhere.

After starting out two years ago with a laptop, an idea and a few ageing brain cells, Shawview Consulting is happily growing as a business.

We now have partners in Europe, Asia, Africa and, soon, Australia.

And 2020 is looking like that growth will continue.

So, I take this opportunity to thank all the clients and consultants we've worked with over the last two years.

We're also looking forward to working with our new and growing client base in the future.

Because in global health and medicines policy, while we've come so far, there's still so much more work to do.

And if we can help make the world a better place for patients, payers, governments and businesses along the way, then all the better.

And, yes, I’ll try to keep the blogs coming from time to time.

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