The First 12 Months of Red Laces by Jonathan Dempsey

It was a bright and crisp, Spring morning and I was just heading out of the door.

I looked down…and there it was!

For a few days, I’d been thinking about setting up a risk management consultancy. Well, subconsciously, at least.

In that moment, I noticed my shoes and, more specifically, my laces – red laces.

That’s it. That’s the name!

Networking at an event later in the day generated positive responses and intrigue in equal measure. Comments such as “that’s creative,” “it’s visual” and, my favourite, “we might forget your name but we’ll remember Red Laces!” After all, who else wears red laces? As we uttered the words, we instinctively looked down to my footwear. Flashes of red seemed to reinforce the words and lock them into their memory.

Two days later, on 27th February, the journey started…

A rollercoaster of emotions for sure, taking the step into consultancy after leaving the corporate world with more than 20 years influencing, leading and managing a wide range of complex, strategic and operational risks.

I’d recently set the strategic direction for health and safety risk management with a market leader at the height of their peak season for productivity. Influencing the Board, leading a department, collaborating across functions and engaging frontline teams ‘hands on’ in a fast-paced, multisite, hazardous working environment - quickly solving complex problems.

Senior-level, multidisciplinary roles in hospitality, transport and logistics, bioscience research and more had followed an early career as an Environmental Health Officer, mentoring business leaders and regulating food hygiene, workplace safety and environmental law. A hunger to learn and grow led to an MBA and becoming chartered in a couple of professions.

Now, I had more freedom and autonomy than ever. Yet, I also had the huge responsibility of creating a business with all of the infrastructure – making sense of delivering the whole thing.

Then, three weeks later – UK Lockdown!

So, for something I learned and something I anticipated.

I learned that you can’t be all things to all people

Running your own business is definitely a journey, not a destination!

A journey of discovery, experimenting, where you might learn things about yourself.

My temptation to 'overthink' and 'be perfect' have surfaced more than a few times. Of course, this complete change of direction has all played out against a surreal backdrop affecting the whole world. There hasn't been a frame of reference and feedback now comes from the market, my network, social media engagement and others - not from a line manager.

Unbeknown to me, this journey would unleash creativity which had remain largely untapped. Looking back from "creativity in a world of risk" in our logo to the current "We Do Risk. Creatively." tagline it is making more sense.

Maybe this next point resonates with you if you’ve been on a similar journey?

As a consultant, perhaps the biggest learning point and challenge is realising that the market needs clarity on what products and services are on offer. I’ll be honest, this hasn’t been an easy process given my background. Deciding on a niche sometimes felt like putting on a straightjacket compared with freedom and autonomy enjoyed previously:

Multidisciplinary roles, taking on new challenges and troubleshooting at pace, yes please!

“We’d like to add Head of Safeguarding Children to your role.” Great!

“Can you lead on unsealed radioisotopes from procurement, use in laboratories, waste disposal and regulatory agency.” Yes, of course!

“We’ve got issues with wildlife management - badgers and deer.” I'll take care of that for you!

“We’d like you to lead a multi-million pound bioscience buildings refurbishment and change management programme.” Sure!

A snapshot of a previous business life.

So, where does Red Laces sit in the marketplace?

We help HRDs, MDs and CEOs to unravel the mystery and requirements of risk, safety and compliance for their teams in a world which is changing faster than any of us could have imagined.

Our USP is that we are able to complement bespoke consultancy packages with mentoring services and social media and communications capabilities. This is particularly attractive for medium-sized organisations which may have small compliance functions, limited strategic-level direction on risk management and minimal marketing budgets.

Did you know that risk management can be a powerful, strategic enabler to drive the agility, adaptability and resilience that your business requires now, more than ever? We can help you in a number of ways through our packages and customisable solutions. Details of our new product range will be published on the website in the next couple of weeks.

We recently developed an innovative FREE diagnostic tool to help business leaders quickly identify where their business is against best practice and how we can help.

It takes less than 2 minutes to answer 20 questions.

The outcome is your personalised score.

Why not try it now at (it is spelled correctly!)

Here's our marketing brochure. Why not take a look!

Red Laces Marketing Brochure (February 2
Download • 10.00MB

As well as our amazing clients, we’re excited to build on wider partnerships with professional organisations, charities, influencers and other businesses which are purpose-driven, making the world a better place.

We are delighted to mark our 1st year anniversary by celebrating our new partnership with the ICA, as part of their global panel.

I anticipated that the world was going to digitise – fast!

From the outset, I was curious about what role social media could play – anticipating it would need to be pivotal. The ability to build and serve a community which could engage with novel where they are, on-demand.

Apart from Linkedin and occasional use of Facebook, social media had been in the background for me - certainly no prior knowledge or expertise of marketing and branding.

Looking back now, it is humbling that Red Laces has 850+ LinkedIn business page followers and 7K+ YouTube views. In addition to our Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter accounts, we recently established rooms on Clubhouse. This is the new, voice-only, social media app which is popular with entrepreneurs.

Without an IT Department, every nuance of the different applications has been self-taught as well as the Canva graphics package and Kapwing video-editing suite. So many steep learning curves!

It was through social media that Red Laces quickly became more than a consultancy - a purpose-driven brand. For Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, I started a video campaign which quickly grew as I personally invited 30 people across 9 countries to record a brief selfie-video - which I edited and promoted. Rugby League legend, Danny Sculthorpe, took part in this.

Other campaigns have followed.

Our Women in Business campaign included 35+ ladies from 10 countries, including Hollywood actress, Eileen Grubba. Many were from sectors where females are less-well represented.

Our latest campaign is “Inside the mind of GenZ.” The purpose is to get behind media stereotypes to help business leaders understand the hopes, fears and values of future leaders entering the job market.

We finish with a video from Hayley Wright on what the Red Laces brand means to her.

So, are you ready to take your first step with Red Laces?

Take the scorecard...check out our social media content...let us help you!

We Do Risk. Creatively.

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