Not many people launch a social enterprise in six days, especially during a global pandemic. But that’s the story of Jamie Mitchell, former CEO of design brand Tom Dixon and founder of All Together, a consultancy and community for business owners, founders and CEOs.

All Together was born from the conversations and crisis management Jamie led as Chair of Rare Restaurant Group, which includes the Gaucho and M restaurants, a few weeks before the first national lockdown was announced.

“Having realised the true scale of the potential economic damage that could arise from the pandemic, we wanted to make it easier for CEOs to support each other. I wanted to offer my help. I wrote a one page summary to send to some mates. When I woke up the next day, my friend Irene had made me a website. I posted the details on LinkedIn and within days I’d had 50 offers of help,” Jamie says.

All Together connects small business owners, founders and CEOs with fellow CEOs and experienced business leaders. All Together currently works with 80 volunteer CEOs, including Jill Easterbrook, former CEO of Boden clothing company, and Bill Ronald, Chair of Fever-Tree, the mixer drinks brand. So far, 250 business owners have received free guidance or coaching from the CEOs, who volunteer five hours of their time to talk through business challenges, plans or changes.

“It’s a lonely job being a CEO,” says Jamie. “You have the weight of the business on your shoulders and it’s a job only other leaders really understand, which is why having a supportive community is so powerful.”

Facilitating open and practical conversations

Jamie has found that the average CEO is more willing to give help than receive it. “If you become a CEO, you’re not usually the sort to say ‘This is where we’re struggling’. It’s partly character and partly concerns over what colleagues or the board would think,” he says.

“But it’s always good to have someone to talk to who isn’t on your team or part of your board, especially during a crisis.”

Collecting actionable advice

Jamie, 49, has more than twenty years experience as a business leader. He spent three years as Managing Director at Innocent Drinks, before going on to become a consultant for Pret A Manger and CEO of Daylesford, a group of organic farm shops and cafés.

Jamie Mitchell, founder of All Together

He has coached several fellow CEOs himself through All Together. “As soon as they started talking, I could see their shoulders relax,” he says. One of the business owners has described how their conversation helped her keep up the momentum for her online venue hire platform. He’s also supported a group of restaurants based in Brighton.

All Together publishes guidance for businesses on its blog and has launched the Three Things Summit, through which speakers give three pieces of actionable advice. Speakers include Sharon White, Chair of John Lewis, and Tim Lee, CEO of Mindful Chef.

Jamie’s own three pieces of advice are:

  • Communicate with your customers
  • Remember the importance of looking after people and the planet, not just profits
  • Continue offering online services and flexible remote working

“Right now, it’s about building back better,” he says. “Through the pandemic, we saw the fragility of our planet and the inequalities - of health, income and opportunity. And we did something about it. Businesses have seen that they can make a real difference.”

Banking and bookkeeping with Starling

When All Together started employing people to run the consultancy sessions and community, Jamie picked Starling as the banking solution. “I chose Starling for the invoicing feature,” he says. “I didn’t want to have separate accounting software and banking, we needed one integrated system.”

The advice All Together facilitates is free but those receiving guidance have an option to ‘pay it forward’ by contributing £250, which helps sustain running costs.

Since becoming a Starling business customer last year, Jamie’s followed our development as a business, often reading interviews with our founder and CEO Anne Boden. “Anne is a brilliant figurehead for the business community - she talks sense.”

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