In Business with Victoria McIntosh and Information in Bloom Management Services (IIBMS)
October 20, 2020
To mark Small Business Week, Librarianship.ca is profiling members of the Canadian library and information community who have founded or own their own businesses.
Who are you and what do you do?
Victoria McIntosh, an Information and Privacy Professional. I operate under my freelance consulting firm, and as a sub-contractor for larger organizations.
What products or services do you offer?
My business, Information In Bloom Management Services (IIBMS), is a freelance consultancy offering time-saving and certified expertise in privacy, information governance, and data management. IIBMS emphasizes improving control of information and data, providing recommendations, developing documentation and laying out the groundwork for solid privacy foundations. Deliverables include assessments, inventories, policies, procedures, and audits of existing practices. Professional I also often participate in speaking and writing engagements.
What is unique about your business?
Having a business with information science as the underlaying foundation itself is unique. While most of my work in the past few years focuses on privacy and security, my practices are grounded in the information & data lifecycle. Solid governance is emphasized early: if everyone assumes someone else will look after the data, no one will. Keeping an eye on what users do with information is also critical. If users need to access or use information to do their jobs in ways you haven’t taken into account, they’ll bypass even well-meaning safeguards.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business? How did you come up with the name for your company?
I started freelancing after a discussion with a friend in IT contracting, who suggested it as a way to keep my skills active while figuring out my next professional move. As luck would have it, I discovered I enjoy running my own business more than expected. With interest and under the advice of someone senior in the field, I enhanced my business’s offerings by becoming certified as an information privacy technologist.
My business name, Information in Bloom, comes from a combination of previous experiences working in a greenhouse, and taking the concept of the information lifecycle further. Like plants in a garden, information quality comes from time invested. You’ve got to organize, weed, and adapt your information practices to changing environments. Since moving the business more into privacy and security safeguards, I’ve also added a shield to the business logo. There’s frequently floral references between medieval knights & chivalry, so it works.
Can you describe/outline your typical day?
A typical day for me means walk the dog, make coffee and get to work. I’ve operated from a home office for some time now, although before COVID I would also take advantage of coffee shops for writing. Priority is given to projects with deadlines; I use a timer when I’m working and pause for interruptions to keep track of hours. At lunch I go for another walk, then back at it. Most days I stick to regular a regular weekday schedule, although there’s built-in flexibility in the evening for more urgent deadlines, or when working with others on a different time zone.
What motivates you?
A relative in law once pointed out “you only eat what you can kill,” and he had a point. If I don’t get up and complete projects or start hunting for new ones I go hungry, so that’s definitely motivation! When projects do land, it’s also motivation to get started and get even more on the table: a good boost to the cycle.
Professionally, there’s also motivation in being out there, pushing for the changes you want to see. I encourage organizations to have better privacy practices because as a consumer, I want more companies that take my privacy seriously.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Patience and some level of self-discipline are big ones. Starting a business takes effort, and when you’re the boss the only one who can force you to get work done is yourself. Patience is a must-have because for many, the business won’t be booming right away. It takes years to build regular customers and establish a reputation; starting out there will be struggles. I also recommend some understanding of financial basics. Accountants are a blessing, but you’ll need to understand your basic monthly needs. With a business, you don’t get a study income: it often goes in waves from famine to feast to famine, so setting aside what you need for slow times is paramount.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Landing new clients and projects is always a rush: not only to start the work, but because they’ve chosen you to do it. There’s also immense satisfaction when you can feel the client’s team members catching on to your analysis or explanations. I enjoy data mapping exercises because of the “aha” lightbulb moments that come out of clients during calls.
What business-related book has inspired you the most?
Tough question! The You are a Badass series is good for getting motivation, and critically reminding you to stick with it during the early times. Mastermind, while not a business book, is another I frequently recommend. Think “information management for your brain”, a great one for generating insights & problem solving.
What is an interesting and fun tidbit about your business?
Fun tidbit about my business: working out of a home office, eventually I learned how to type underneath a cat. I’m also much more conscious of my own behaviour when handling documents now; critical to practice what you preach.
If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it?
Probably with a good book, a hot cup of coffee and sleepy pets at my feet. Honestly, the simple pleasures work.
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