Interview: Wycombe Sound’s digital and radio marketing strategy

Interview: Wycombe Sound’s digital and radio marketing strategy

Wycombe Sound co-founder Phillipa Sawyer, tells us how the station uses both digital and radio marketing. How its digital strategy has helped her small Buckinghamshire based radio station (run by a team of dedicated volunteers) has achieved a growing listenership and list of advertisers and sponsors. And within a year of getting its full licence – win the accolade of Station of the Year.

Just scroll down for the video interview and a list of questions we asked.

Why we think Pippa rocks:

Wycombe Sound 106.6 FM is the multi-award-winning radio station for High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. Since 2013,  the team has taken Wycombe Sound from a 4-week pop-up broadcasts to a full Ofcom licence, broadcasting 24 hours per day. In 2017 it was crowned “Station of the Year” at the Community Radio Awards, as well as collecting 4 Silver and 2 Bronze Awards. You can hear Wycombe Sound on 106.6 FM, on the Radioplayer App and online at www.wycombesound.org.uk.

The co-founders are Philippa, Chris Phillips, and Kieth Higgins. Along with a dedicated team of 100 volunteers (and counting) who help run the station, produce, and present shows.

About Wycombe Sound:

Wycombe Sound 106.6 FM is the multi-award-winning radio station for High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. Since 2013,  the team has taken Wycombe Sound from a 4-week pop-up broadcasts to a full Ofcom licence, broadcasting 24 hours per day. In 2017 it was crowned “Station of the Year” at the Community Radio Awards, as well as collecting 4 Silver and 2 Bronze Awards. You can hear Wycombe Sound on 106.6 FM, on the Radioplayer App and online at www.wycombesound.org.uk.

The co-founders are Philippa, Chris Phillips, and Kieth Higgins. Along with a dedicated team of 100 volunteers (and counting) who help run the station, produce, and present shows.

Achieving digital and radio marketing success: Sanzen Digital’s interview with Philippa Sawyer

 

Whether you have your own radio station or not, we hope you enjoy this interview and glean some valuable advice from Phillipa (because there is plenty!) –

 

”Goodness me! Even though we’re a radio station, digital content is vital. When we started out, nobody knew who we were… it helped us spread the word”.

What we asked Philippa (15mn long):

  1. An intro from Philippa – 07 secs
  2. What role has digital marketing played in your business? – 59 secs
  3. How much of your digital and radio marketing do you outsource? – 1:30
  4. How much of your budget is spent on social media? – 1:56
  5. What are the benefits for sponsors and advertisers for investing in radio marketing? – 2:09
  6. Why is radio still an important channel for advertisers in 2018? – 3:23
  7. What are your key social media platforms? – 4:06
  8. How important is your Wycombe Sound’s website important to the business? – 5:22
  9. How does the website engage visitors? – 8:19
  10. Do you have a dedicated resource to update and manage website content ? If so, how does this help? – 8:20
  11. How often do you monitor the performance of your social media and website? If so, how does this help your digital and radio marketing efforts? – 9:13
  12. What advice would you give to a small business that you wish you knew when you first started out? – 11:10
  13. GDPR – What has been the impact for Wycombe Sound? – 11.42


    And finally…

  14. In addition to implementing a successful  digital and radio marketing strategy, what are you most proud of with Wycombe Sound? – 13:10

Sanzen Digital helps businesses to grow and flourish on-line. If you’d like to know more about how you can use digital marketing to achieve your business goals – connect with us today.

Get Inspired: Sanzen Digital talks to Jennifer Peart, MD Of ClockSpeed Marketing

Get Inspired: Sanzen Digital talks to Jennifer Peart, MD Of ClockSpeed Marketing

Consultant and CIockSpeed Marketing MD, Jennifer Peart, discusses the business models and pricing strategies she uses to achieve her financial goals. She advises when to walk away from a prospective client and when to take a chance. She also explains how networking and digital marketing play a vital role in sourcing clients; and how she successfully scaled up her business whilst remaining a sole entrepreneur.

So whether you’re an aspiring consultancy or a growing business in another sector – read on and find out how she has achieved her success and get inspired…..

Why we think Jennifer Peart rocks:

Jennifer is a fantastic example on how to achieve your goals and then some. Her success is down to her ability to add real value; work with a genuine team ethos; and her vivacious personality!

Business Description:

Product Marketing and Marketing Consultancy

Size:

Herself and a virtual team of talented freelancers

Location:

Office is based in Kings Cross, London

Career path:
  • Over 20 years interim and permanent experience in the development and execution of product management, commercial propositions and marketing strategy:
  • Silicon Valley (USA) for 2 years. Matrix-management of international teams.
  • Product manager in ISPs, software and managed service organisations
  • Marketing Director, Product Director and CMO within technology organisations
  • Product and Marketing Consultancy for 14 years: PE backed companies; private and government / regulated organisations; B2C and B2B in blue-chip multinationals, SMEs and start-ups.
Current projects:

None that can mentioned by name due to confidentiality.

Special recognition:

None – yet!

Sanzen Digital’s interview with Jennifer Peart

 

SD: When did you decide you wanted to become a marketing consultant?

Jen: I describe my decision to become self-employed as an ‘accidental interim’. It was sometime after I returned from a two year secondment in the US. There came a point where the thought of doing another marketing directorship in the same type of company in the same sort of sector didn’t appeal. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I took a bit of time off. Those were the days when you could walk into another role quickly so it didn’t seem a big risk to leave a job.

SD: When you became a consultant how did you figure out your rates?

Jen: When it came to the charging rate there was almost two sides to the coin. If it was someone senior I knew, I could go in and charge what I knew I was worth – but outside of the network it was a bit of a battle in the beginning. Because, even though I was relatively senior – I was new as a consultant. I then had mentoring from a seasoned consultant, and I when I started working with other consultants, they would tell me that I was way too cheap. So sometimes you can naturally know you’re worth and other times it’s when people make you realise your worth. It’s knowing that if somebody wants your services then they have to pay for what you value your worth is.

 

” I quickly learnt that there is a ‘scientific’ approach and an industry expectation as to how you work out your rate. For straight consultancy work, going on a day rate, is where I find prospects will try and beat you down easily.’’.

 

SD: Can you explain more about the pricing model you use as a consultant?

Jen: The initial pricing model I used was a straightforward 1 to 1 relationship model:  I’m going to charge the client an x amount. And because I can only charge one of me – it was like – oh my gosh – how much do I charge for myself?  Because you definitely need that belief in yourself. Thankfully, I quickly learnt that there is a ‘scientific’ approach and an industry expectation as to how you work out your rate. For straight consultancy work, going on a day rate, is where I find prospects will try and beat you down easily.

So for a consultancy project I would generally charge for the value of the project. If I was going to charge a day rate on a project, I’ll estimate the amount with some contingencies and that way it’s not valued on the number of days. As long as you yourself know how long it will take, you’re not losing money, and you’re delivering value to your client, then that’s fine. So that was valuable learning I got early on.

SD: Are there any exceptions when you don’t stick to your pricing model?

Jen: Some projects may have a small budget but if I find the project really interesting or I can see it as a stepping stone to future projects, I’ll consider it. I still have to make it work for me as well as for the clients and sometimes in those scenarios I would say ok this is really interesting and I would normally charge this but I’ve got quite a strong belief in what you’re doing so I would like to be involved in the project, let me understand how I can work with you so I can get involved.

So there are different ways of being able to flex your model without giving away your value. It’s really tough at the start to walk away because you’re not prepared for doing it for that amount – I simply let them know that it’s ok if you can’t pay this right now – I’m just not the right person for you.  It’s only in the later years that I felt comfortable to say ‘’ I’m not going to do that’’.

 

”Sometimes you can naturally know you’re worth and other times it’s when people make you realise your worth. If somebody wants your services then they have to pay for what you value your worth is”.

 

SD: How does your business model work from a scalability point of view?

Jen: The model from a scalability point of view works well for consultancy. It does vary but I tend to average about 3 or 4 projects at any given time. I’ll aim to work on XYZ projects and I’ll commit set amount of time/days to each project. I’ll charge an x amount for the deliverable in set amount of time but how I manage my time is up to me – that means I can also see other clients.

The more challenging model is to block out an extended period of time for one project – it really doesn’t work on a scalability as it takes you out of the marketplace and your network. And the only way you get a certainty of work in order to forecast your income is longevity. And that’s by having a good business model.

 

”Outsourcing to freelancers is a very easy model to follow and I definitely recommend it if you want to grow your business and scale up as a consultant”.

 

SD: In order to scale your business further, you outsource. How does working with freelancers fit in with your business model?

Jen:  Outsourcing to freelancers is a very easy model to follow and I definitely recommend it if you want to grow your business and scale up. You save on overheads, and you don’t have to deal with the requirements associated with having employees. At some point you may need to take on someone permanently but from the outset you’re not accruing costs unnecessarily. It’s important to know their rates upfront but it’s an easy conversation to have.  The freelancer will give his/her rate and I’ll add that to the project costs with a desired mark. This is then what I charge the client.

SD: You also freelance for other consultants. How do you navigate around any conflicts of interest?

Jen: Yes on the flip side I get other consultants asking me to join them on projects – so I become their resource. I tell them my rate but I never ask the question how much the project or what they are charging is – it’s none of my business – my relationship is with the consultancy not their client. I also always go in under their company brand for instance.  I never go in as my own consultancy when operating as part of their team. It’s also my personal thing to make that distinction. And it also instils a level of confidence in the other consultancy.

The other side of the coin is that it protects my brand integrity as ClockSpeed Marketing and when I take on freelancers I need to know they meet the mark as it impacts my brand identity also. And when you’re assessing new freelancers you do need to trust your gut and see and know if they are as good as you want them to be.

Whilst you are reaping the benefits of new projects, you are always looking out for the next range of projects. With a small team, it can be difficult to manage and also difficult to scale – but it isn’t impossible.

SD: How does networking play a part in growing your business?

Jen: I network like crazy. There’s the personal networking (meeting for dinners etc.) where I tend to put on the weight! And the networking events, which don’t yield any clients but it expands my network of like-minded connections – and gives me valuable exposure – otherwise you can feel quite isolated as consultant.

 


ClockSpeed and Digital Marketing

 

SD: What role has digital marketing played in the success of your business?

Jen: Over the years it’s increasingly playing an important role. I focus mainly on LinkedIn, my website, and pay for click advertising (PPC). The latter, especially, has helped increase my visibility amongst my peers and when I’m seeking prospective clients.

SD:  How much of your digital marketing do you outsource or do inhouse?

Jen: It’s all handled in-house by myself. However, I did  use an associate web design agency to update my website. I am often asked to undertake digital marketing on behalf of clients. Depending upon the size of the project I will do it myself or if much larger, engage one of my associate organisations.

 

And finally…

 

SD: What has been your biggest challenge as a consulatnt and SME – and how have you met that challenge?

Jen: Feast and Famine! Whilst you are reaping the benefits of new projects, you are always looking out for the next range of projects. With a small team, it can be difficult to manage and also difficult to scale – but it isn’t impossible.

SD: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are starting out or wanting to grow?

Jen: I wish someone had told me to think bigger and believe more in yourself – you would be amazed how much you can achieve and how much other people believe in you.

SD:  What’s the most exciting thing in the horizon for you and ClockSpeed Marketing?

Jen: Some exciting projects which expand the current offerings – more into the app development space. Also I’m working a lot more with the start-up community as well; which is quite a change of pace from the standard corporate businesses!

SD: What can you tell us about yourself that we wouldn’t get from your resume?

Jen: No matter how difficult the task may seem, I will always rise to the challenge

End of Interview.

Sanzen Digital helps businesses to grow and flourish on-line. If you’d like to know more about how you can use digital marketing to achieve your business goals – connect with us today.

Get Inspired: Sanzen Digital talks to Paz Sarmah – Director of Bad Brownie

Get Inspired: Sanzen Digital talks to Paz Sarmah – Director of Bad Brownie

Friends Paz and Morag have used their branding know-how and a mutual love of chocolate to set up Bad Brownie – the unruly rebellious cousin of the humble chocolate brownie . Theirs is a story of successful brand development which was literally created at the kitchen table. We talk to co-founder Paz and find out how within a couple of years, Bad Brownie has gone from a single market stall in Camden to several across London’s key markets. And how their gourmet brownies and the Bad Brownie brand has caught the eye of Selfridges; Pret a Manger; local and national press; and even a Dragon from the Den -Touker Suleyman.

Why we think Paz rocks:
Along with business partner Morag, Paz left a comfortable job with a london brand agency to make a dream come true; and they did this without any prior baking experience or having worked on a market stall before!
Business Description:
Production bakery of gourmet brownies for both retail and wholesale.
Size:
A team of 10 in the kitchen and office; with around 15 additional staff who work on the markets.
Location:
The production bakery is in South East London (Forest Hill) but from there they sell across markets all over London throughout the week, such as in central London for office lunches through to residential markets at the weekend. They wholesale to various partners around London including Selfridges and Pret a Manger.
Career path:
Studied law at Warwick University, but decided not to pursue a career in law. Opted to work at L’Oreal in their management scheme before doing stints with a few branding agencies. Met Morag at brand agency Brandhouse in 2009. Came up with the idea of bad brownie in May 2013. Set up  first market stall 2 months later followed by a second stall a few weeks later.
Current projects:
The next stage is to open up a Bad Brownie Cafe! Infomercials on QVC and other exciting wholseale opportunities.
Special recognition:

In 2015, they were asked to take part in Dragon’s Den (it aired in 2016) when a producer found them at their Maltby Street market stall. They are one of only 200 companies to have won an investment since the programme started when several thousands have applied.

Sanzen Digital’s interview with Paz Sarmah, Bad Brownie

 

SD: What made you decide to set up Bad Brownie?

Paz: I always wanted to set up a company but I never got round to it or had that big idea or the bravery to do it. But it was when I left my last agency, Bloom, to figure out what I wanted to do –  that I went through an exercise of self-discovery to find out what my skills set were, what was I good at, what did I enjoy and what it would be useful for.

I realised that being my own boss would allow me to do a lot of things I loved – copy writing, photography, organise things, interact with people and I concluded that the only job that could do all of that was a job I had to make up myself! And then I met Morag for dinner one evening and we discovered we were wanting the same thing as she was already looking into setting up a microbrewery with someone else.

SD: Why Brownies?

Paz: Morag and I are both foodies and had a mutual love of chocolate. While at Brandhouse we actually worked on a contract with Mars – Morag on Galaxy and me on Minstrels and Malteasers!

From the outset we knew we wanted to focus on one product with different flavours – so we considered lots of options: popcorn, choux pastry, eclairs – but brownies seemed to have the most resonance. Because neither of us are trained bakers or were those kids who grew up baking and so we concluded – well you can’t go wrong with brownies surely! And it hadn’t at the time been done before – perhaps a few companies but no one with any stand out really – so we went for it.

SD:  How have you used branding to differentiate Bad Brownies?

Paz: We simply positioned our brownies to be the really dark naughty side to the really good but boring brownie. On hindsight we put a lot of thought into stuff that most small businesses got away with not doing. But we got hung up on little things like: let’s do a naming brainstorm, let’s do a positioning exercise and work out our key USPs. We could have got away with not doing any of this but it has actually (of course) seen us in good stead.

And it actually started as ‘Bad Ass Brownie’,  but people didn’t really get the imagery and logo that went with it. So about a year and half later we embarked on a re-identity project with my old designer colleague at Bloom and we removed ‘ass’ and came up with our ‘Bad’ stamp. It can now be easily translated to lots of things and also it’s honest about the fact that our brownies are really bad by nature; they are packed full of butter and so are a very indulgent treat – and we want to celebrate this!

SD: How have you found working in a partnership?

Paz: What we quickly realised is that everything we knew about each other as friends was completely different when it came to work! We thought it would be a perfect partnership because we got on as friends but actually when it came down to it we had completely opposite points of view and even to this day we’re learning how to smooth over stuff we disagree on.  But ultimately, we both know it’s because we’re passionate about what is best for the company so we’ve learned the art of compromise – and are still learning!

We’re kind of complementary but it took us a while to get to that. I’m gut reaction led and Morag is like ‘well you may be right but let’s put some numbers to it so we can see if it can work’. She is thankfully more cautious and I’m the opposite – so we tend to end up in the middle.


“A lot of (market) traders struggle because they’re unable to let go and trust someone else to help the business grow. The problem when you do this is that you’re limiting the business; because it can only grow as much as you can grow and as far as your exhaustion holds out”


SD: What has been your biggest challenge as an SME and how have you met that challenge?

Paz: The biggest challenge is always budget – and making tough decisions based on what is the appropriate thing to do and spend money on even though we might really want something else. So it’s about what is best for the business at that particular time and pursuing that route instead of another which may make our lives easier.

Staffing has also been a lot more difficult than we thought because, for a small business like ours, every single person we hire is  integral to the business and we didn’t know how to interview. An interview would go well and we thought what’s the point of getting references – and now of course we look back and think how could we have been so naive! Another early mistake we made was that we didn’t let go of people when we needed to – we tried to make things work – but actually when you’re a small company you just haven’t got the  time or resource to do that – we need staff to perform well from the get go. Now that we have more people, they train with other staff on the job and they are a fantastic team.

We can’t help but ask a few questions about digital marketing…

SD:  What role does digital marketing play in the success of your business?

Paz: Digital marketing has been crucial in getting our brand to the place it is now. Luckily we have an amazing product that tastes great and at the same time looks great. We have tried to leverage this through interesting and exciting photos which we post across social media platforms, especially Instagram. Instagram is made for amazing photography and people love to like and share photos of great food which we have been lucky to have been part of.

SD: How much of the digital marketing do you outsource or do in house?

Paz: We do everything in house for the moment. We have a fantastic sales and marketing exec, Bridget, who does a brilliant job with our social media. She is based on site so she can take some lovely photos of the brownies being made, or the team getting on with their work; and this I feel gives our social media authenticity.

And finally…

SD:  What’s the most exciting thing in the horizon for Bad Brownie?

Paz: Even after 4 years there is still so much for us to do and explore – our mission is world domination by brownie and so far we have made a decent start but only in London.  While we’ve fed thousands of people our brownies there’s millions more out there – and getting to those others is the exciting part now.

SD: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are starting out or wanting to grow?

Paz: The most important thing we’ve found so far is in being as flexible as possible. It’s valuable to plan things out and analyse pros and cons carefully but ultimately it’s important to not become so fixed in the pursuance of a set course of action that potential opportunities en route are disregarded. We always said yes first and then started to think of how to actually do it – meaning we were able to embrace opportunities and grow quickly. Had we spent too long analysing those opportunities, we may have found ourselves paralyzed by the unknowns and potential mishaps.

Also a lot of market traders struggle because they’re unable to let go and trust someone else to help the business grow. The problem when you do this is that you’re limiting the business; because it can only grow as much as you can grow and as far as your exhaustion holds out.

SD: What can you tell us about yourself that we wouldn’t get from your resume?

Paz: I have a dog who thinks she’s my owner.

End of Interview.

Sanzen Digital helps businesses to grow on-line. If you’d like to know more about how you can use digital marketing to expand your business – connect with us today.

Get Inspired: Sanzen Digital talks to Sam Williams, CEO of Rush UK

Get Inspired: Sanzen Digital talks to Sam Williams, CEO of Rush UK

From city trader to being a mum of three and then going on to set up Rush UK – one of the UK’s leading trampoline parks – we just had to find out how Sam Williams has done it all. And to think it could have been another story entirely had BA accepted her application to become a pilot!

Why we think Sam rocks:
She isn’t afraid to take risks when it matters. Her success is down to a real self-belief; determination; and a willingness to work crazily hard to make it all happen.
Business Description:
Trampoline parks for everyone to enjoy. Includes open jump sessions, fitness classes, cafe, shop, events.
Size:
50 full time and 200 casual employees.
Location:
Two trampoline parks located in High Wycombe in Bucks, and Birmingham.
Career path:

Came top in her year as a Maths graduate from Bath University. In 1994 had a graduate role at Arthur Anderson, but decided accountancy was not for her. Won a scholarship to do a Masters in Mathematics at Oxford University. In 1996 applied to train as a Pilot at BA and got turned down. Went on to work for JP Morgan and for the next 8 years also worked for Credit Suisse and Deutsche as a hedge fund derivatives structurer and marketer. In 2005 stopped work to have a family and during this time trained as a freelance personal trainer! In 2014 partnered with a US manufacturer of trampoline parks to set up Rush. Launched Rush UK:High Wycombe in 2015 and Rush UK:Birmingham in November 2016.

Current projects:
Recently hosted a Comic Relief Charity Fund Raiser – The Big Sleepover.
Special recognition:
Rush UK  – 2016 Winner of the Muddy Stilettos Award

Sanzen Digital’s interview with Sam Williams, Rush UK

 

SD: You first learnt about trampoline parks watching an episode of E-entertainment! What spurred you to think this would be a great business idea for you?

SW:  My friends will tell you that I’m always coming up with ideas for a business, which are often hare-brained in their opinion! And for a long while, my priority had been to do something around my kids. I knew I wanted to do something that was similar to a family member club; as I got tired of spending time with my kids in cold village halls drinking nasty coffee. I wanted a place that was a heaven for the kids and a haven for the parents (which subsequently has been my personal motto for Rush). There were places like that popping up in London but these were expensive and I just knew there was a potential market out here in Bucks.

SD: So how does a mum of three from a corporate banking background launch a trampoline park?

SW: I did tonnes of research, and put together a business plan. I talked to potential investors, which was a real learning curve for me. But I eventually partnered with a leading US manufacturer of trampoline parks who was looking to get into the UK market. I literally did everything from my kitchen table. I looked for ideal locations, negotiated lease terms with landlords, applied for planning consent, worked on the planning of the layout; basically all the project management, recruitment, and marketing. I also knew I had to be willing to invest and hire someone to help with communications and PR which has paid off tremendously.


“I want other women, especially other mums, to know it is possible to achieve running a business on this scale if they want to – you just need to stick with it. Whenever I felt guilty about the kids, my mum would remind me that the kids will survive; that it’s a small sacrifice and we would come out the other end – and we have”

SD: What has been your biggest challenge as an SME and how have you met that challenge?

SW: The challenge has been catching up on ourselves in terms of the systems, process and people. We had to move quickly to secure locations and as a result grown from zero to two sites within a year. We’re now in the process of making the business more efficient. And having my husband Tim, an experienced hedge fund investment manager and previously trained as an accountant come on board, has helped me meet this challenge.

Also as a mother of three young children I had the added challenge of needing to be around for them. I have a fantastic au pair, but I still had to do as much as I could. I often started my day around 5am to fit the work on the project. During that first year, I may have been there in body for my kids but not in mind and that was difficult.  But now things are more settled I’m able to give more of my time again. Weekends have become family time once more.

SD: Your husband Tim joined Rush full time last year, how has that been for the two of you?!

SW: Tim decided to leave his job in the city to join me and to be honest the first few months working together were challenging because we are quite different. When you look at his desk it’s pristine and ordered and mine is chaotic. Both of us had to learn how to work alongside each other in a complementary way. Admittedly, I was slightly territorial as High Wycombe was my baby; everything and everyone was coming to me, and it was hard for me to let go.  He made me realise that we need to put processes and proper systems in place so that everything wasn’t coming to me, and I could think more clearly.

It’s totally different now because we are so complementary and I’ve learned so much about myself in terms of what I’m good at and what I’m not good at. Building the park in Birmingham is down to Tim really. I found the site and got the planning consent, designed the interiors, and still did all the marketing, the creative bit, but as for all the rest, it was Tim.

We can’t help but ask a few questions about digital marketing…

SD:  What role does digital marketing play in the success of your business?

SW: It plays a huge role. It’s the quickest and easiest way we can get messages out to our customers and to get bookings. It allows us to send out messages about events and for us to engage with our customers and the community who follow us. The challenge with marketing Rush is that it is for everyone – so how do you target it for teenagers and young adults without putting off mummies with toddlers? And our peak audience is 8-12 year olds. So we have to use different mediums to reach those different groups and digital marketing enables us to do that.

Facebook for instance, is very much for families and mums because it’s typically our generation who are on Facebook. Instagram and snapchat for young adults and teenagers. We’re looking to increase our 12 and 18 years old audience – and YouTube is a great channel for this group. I’ve recently started working with a cool and edgy YouTuber called Ryan Taylor to do some stuff for Rush

SD: How much of the digital marketing do you outsource or do in house?

SW: I use a marketing contractor for 30 hours a week and digital communications is around £3,500 a month across both parks. I could bring this in-house but rather than having someone on the payroll it just works out better for me. And we use a small agency to manage our SEO and write blog content for £1000 a month.

And finally…

SD:  What’s the most exciting thing in the horizon for Rush UK? A Rush 3 perhaps?

SW: That would be great! But I would rather run two parks really well than expand too quickly and run them badly. I know it sounds really boring but the exciting thing has been finishing all the building work and just looking forward to try and run both parks more efficiently. To actually drive costs down, push sales up and pay down debt. And because we have grown so quickly and invested so much to get to where we are – it would be great just to have a year of consolidation. Our turnover is great, but it’s now about improving our margins and seeing our returns that way.

SD: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and what do you wish someone told you when you were starting out?

SW: If you believe in something strongly enough you should take the risk and go for it. But sometimes the voice of reason stops you from taking certain financial risks. If it’s possible, make sure you are the majority stakeholder in your own business. Also I want other women, especially other mums, to know it is possible to achieve running a business on this scale; you just need to stick with it. Whenever I felt guilty about the kids, my mum would remind me that the kids will survive; that it’s a small sacrifice and we would come out the other end – and we have!

SD: What can you tell us about yourself that we wouldn’t get from your resume?

SW: If you look at my resume – I’m a high flying city trader type who has travelled the world – so someone who doesn’t know me would think I was probably a hard-nosed careerist. Nothing could be further than that. I love flying and my first career ambition was to be a pilot. But my main priority since being a mum is having my kids around me, and not to spend my time commuting to a job in the city. Also having material things has never been my thing. I’ve just always had an internal drive to prove to myself and want to do something that’s both cerebral and challenging.

End of Interview.

Sanzen Digital helps businesses to grow on-line. If you’d like to know more about how you can use digital marketing to expand your business – connect with us today.

Get inspired: Sanzen Digital talks to Paulette Elliott, Managing Director at Huduma Ltd

Get inspired: Sanzen Digital talks to Paulette Elliott, Managing Director at Huduma Ltd

When Sanzen Digital first met Paulette Elliott, MD of Huduma Ltd, in the summer of 2016 at a Chamber of Commerce event, it prompted us to do two things. Firstly, to come up with a good excuse to meet her again; and as a result of that, to start a series of interview style blog posts. Where we pick the brains of successful small business leaders who inspire us, and from whom any small business with genuine ambitions to grow can learn from.

Why we think Paulette rocks:
She is a one woman driving force (in what is still a male dominated sector) for positive change and making a measurable difference where it matters – through collaborating, mentoring, and networking.
Business Description:
IT and Business Consultancy.
Size:
Two directors, two graduate interns, and a number of strategic partners and support entities, including the European Space Agency.
Location:
Harwell Space, Science and Technology Campus, in Oxfordshire.
Career path:

Paulette has a career spanning 30 years in the IT and telecommunications sector, including 10 years at Vodafone. She became a sole trader in 2010; eventually setting up Huduma Ltd in 2011.

Current projects:
A number of projects delivering key emerging technologies, including RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) technology.
Special recognition:
Shortlisted for two business awards based on Huduma’s apprenticeship training programme and the use of science technology and innovation.

Sanzen Digital’s interview with Paulette Elliot, Huduma.

 

SD: What has been your biggest challenge as an SME and how have you met the challenge?

PE: The biggest challenge is having the financial resources to deliver innovative R&D projects. Some of the organisations who provide the funding do tend to forget that SMEs may not have a bank account with large reserves and might be a team of only one. But I find that if you collaborate with other businesses who have been successful in gaining funding then it not only helps you to be able to submit  joint applications for funding – but  also to develop your ideas as well, especially if it’s contributing to the overall goal of the project.

SD: How do you think your competitors view you?

PE: I’m a micro business and the arena I’m operating in is more to do with large and medium sized companies. When I see other businesses doing something similar to myself I don’t see them as a competitor or shy away from them; I see opportunities to collaborate.


“The one thing I’d probably tell people starting out is think about what it is you want to do and achieve. And don’t be afraid to bring other people in to help you, because you can’t achieve it all on your own.”

SD: Have you had any mentors or role models? And how has being mentored helped you?

PE: I briefly joined Athena which is a women only business network and although it wasn’t the best fit for my business; it did help to ‘soften’ me. I learned a different  sets of skills – on how to pitch my business in 60 seconds for instance. But since then, I’ve participated in a number of different initiatives such as The SETsquared Partnership, Growth Accelerator and the Thames Valley Support Vouchers Scheme. And at Harwell, I attend workshops which are often run by successful entrepreneurs; it makes sense to listen to what they say! Through mentoring I get business ideas and ways of doing things better and more efficiently. I don’t know everything, so I’m always open to learning new things and listening to people who know more than I do.

SD: Tell us more about your own role as a mentor

PE: Over the years I’ve been mentoring a number of different start-ups. I’m involved with an organisation in London called Bright Ideas Trust, It helps individuals from deprived areas who want to start their own business, as well as start-ups from other backgrounds. I have also employed summer interns through the Satellite Applications Catapult SPIN programme as part of our internship programme to help develop their business, marketing and organisational skills.

We can’t help but ask a few questions about digital marketing…

SD:  What role does digital marketing play in the success of your business?

PE: It opens up opportunities and gives potential clients visibility about Huduma.
We started looking at social media more seriously towards the end of last year.  I worked on a set of objectives for 2017 for which we’re now in the process of working out a marketing strategy. Digital marketing is now crucial because I’m looking to grow Huduma and the way we can grow is identifying the digital platforms we would use to reach our target audience.

SD: In addition to your new responsive website, what other digital platforms have you found useful?

PE: For me Twitter is gradually building a nice following, and also LinkedIn, where my core audience and 1300 plus connections are. We use Twitter to inform and share information regarding technology or business advice. I deal with decision makers and it’s on LinkedIn I can research someone and contact them directly.

SD:  How much digital marketing do you outsource or do in-house?

PE: It’s all done in-house by our graduate intern Ellie, who is currently working on a marketing strategy document. But if we are to target the right audience with the right message – especially when it comes to disseminating and sharing information – then it would help to have a second opinion before we implement the plan.  We’re serious about growing and so the proposed strategy needs to be reviewed and discussed at a strategic level.

And finally…

SD:  What’s the most exciting thing in the horizon for Huduma?

PE:  I think the most exciting thing is the RPAS project, the intelligent parcel delivery part of the project, because when implemented, it’s going to have a huge impact on the UK economy. It also means Huduma is going to grow and employ more staff.

SD: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and what do you wish someone told you when you were starting out?

PE: I think the one thing I’d probably tell people starting out is think about what it is you want to do and achieve. And don’t be afraid to bring other people in to help you, because you can’t achieve it all on your own.

SD: What can you tell us about yourself that we wouldn’t get from your resume?

PE: That I’m a deeply principled person. Injustice towards employees really gets me especially where you have organisations who do some really distasteful things to staff. That really rattles my cage.  Also on a personal level, meeting my husband simply transformed me as a person and he is a kind and caring person. We’ve been married for almost 30 years and I’m truly blessed having him in my life.

Sanzen Digital helps businesses to grow on-line. If you’d like to know more about how you can use digital marketing to expand your business – connect with us today.