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Tracey Sharman, Crescent Research

Tracey Sharman, Crescent Research

Dereham-based Tracey Sharman started Crescent Research in early 2020 after her job changed and it no longer offered her the job satisfaction she needed.

Her business offers assistance with locating missing heirs, reuniting individuals with unclaimed assets and tracing next of kin.

Tracey explains how BIPC Norfolk has helped her, and shares her inspiration and tips for anyone wanting to start a business.

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More about Tracey

Why did you want to start a business? What was your motivation?

I had worked in the people tracing and asset reunification sector for 10 years, originally employed as the office administrator, before being ‘taught’ how to undertake genealogical research. 

I was promoted to Projects Manager and then Head of Operations, a role I held for approximately five years. However, my role began to digress into a sales/client liaison role and was taking me away from the research side of the business that I loved and excelled at. 

After a lot of soul searching and consideration, I decided that the only way I could achieve 100% job satisfaction was to set up my own business. Ensuring money or assets belonging to individuals is returned to the individual or their legally entitled beneficiaries is what drives me and in doing so provides the job satisfaction I desire.

Tell us a bit about your business.

Crescent Research is a probate research and genealogy company that also offers data screening services.

The services Crescent Research offers are transferable across several industry sectors. I work with and assist solicitors, will writers or estate planners in tracing missing beneficiaries who are named in wills but cannot be located.

I undertake research via various address databases and other resources to identify an up-to-date address for the beneficiaries to ensure that the gift or legacy in the will can be passed to them. I also obtain copies of birth, marriage and death certificates and probate documentation to assist with identification and verification processes.

For cases where an individual has passed away without leaving a will, the estate is then intestate and genealogical research is undertaken to identify those relatives who would have a legal interest in the estate. This involves researching the family bloodlines back, usually to paternal and maternal grandparents, identifying all their siblings and then bringing the research forward to the present day to identify any living relatives.

Among other services, Crescent Research also researches and prepares family trees for people who would like to know more about their family history. I use a variety of sources including birth, marriage and death records, census records, military transcripts and travel or migration records.

Which of BIPC Norfolk's services have you used?

I have used the MENTA Reset. Restart events which have included an initial 1:1, generating new business ideas, digital marketing tools and strategies, building customer relationships, re-adjusting and re-assessing your cost base.

There have also been three networking sessions with guest speakers.

How have they helped you with the business?

The Business Model Canvas provided at the start of the programme was a great way to dissect and look at different areas of my business, to allow focus on the areas that needed more resource, time and thought.

The Business Plan Financials template was a great spreadsheet, which linked through formatting, to show expenditure, profit and loss etc – very easy to complete and use.

Getting to know others who have also started the new business journey has been beneficial and it’s great to see how everyone is progressing at different stages of their journey, sharing tips, ideas and resources.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start a business?

Ensure you fully research the business/industry sector you are looking to start up. Do your homework as to what competition there might be. 

Have a clear understanding of your start-up costs and what you need to be earning from your business. Think about what you want to ‘get out’ of your business and your reasons for setting it up in the first instance. 

Reach out to services such as MENTA and BIPC Norfolk – they are valuable assets in terms of resources and advice. Have a structured day eg start and finish times, and dress for work not relaxing on the settee - it ensures the correct mindset to help you focus.

When not dealing with your business, what do you like to do in your spare time (if you have any!)?

I love making and baking novelty cakes and baking in general. I also enjoy reading anything, but especially books by James Patterson (the Woman’s Murder Club series), Peter James (the Roy Grace series) and Cecilia Aherne, specifically PS I Love You, Where Rainbows End and If you could see me now.

My husband and son would probably also say that I’m a little addicted to Candy Crush!

Has there been a book that inspired you?

Not sure it’s an inspirational book, but it’s one that I used to read my son when he was little called The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Rather than the caterpillar eating his way through lots of different foods and eventually becoming a butterfly, it can be likened to a new business starting out, slowly and steadily working your way through your business plan and the process of what you need to do, getting everything in place bit by bit, before the final launch of your new business and spreading your wings.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experience of starting and running a business?

Ask for help if you need it, search out resources that can help you, use social media and other online platforms to add reach to your products and services.

For me, quitting my job and starting my own business has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

It is hard work and, depending on your business structure, it can be lonely (a radio in the background helps), but effort and determination will pay dividends.

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