A year in business, is it all it’s cracked up to be?
Prior to November 2015, things were so different and I’d never have dreamt I would own a marketing company in Darlington a couple of years later. I’d taken voluntary redundancy from the council, went to work in marketing then ended up working for a recruitment company developing the social recruiting strategy for one of the UK’s largest vehicle leasing companies. Alongside this I was self-employed and managed social media accounts for 2-3 companies. I’d come home from my day job then work until 11pm every night scheduling posts for my clients. After a year, this figure grew to around ten companies so something had to give.
In September 2015, I talked to my employer and was very fortunate to be asked to become a consultant. This way, I could carry on doing what I did social recruiting wise but spend more time with my clients. The following month I decided I needed an office. It was no longer viable working from home, not with two young children plus I needed someone to give me a hand. I thought of a company name (with the help of my friends on Facebook) and found a guy on Twitter who said he’d help me with my branding.
Roll on November and I was delighted to pick up my first ever set of office keys. It was still very daunting as owning a business wasn’t something I’d thought of doing. By the beginning of December, I’d taken on my first employee, David. I was cautious, didn’t want to commit to employing someone full time straight away so thankfully he started with part time hours and these built up, four months later he become full time.
By now, our client list had grown to 30. Between us we were managing around 100 social media accounts so it was pretty full on. I worked evenings to keep up with things as I had to attend meetings during the day and 12 months in, we knew we needed another pair of hands. I sought advice from my accountant and HR company and in December, Grace started with us.
tgi MEDIA has been a limited company from for 14 months now. We have 36 clients, most of which are long-term. Yes we lose accounts and it’s always a disappointment but online marketing is different for every client and we just learn from this. We challenge ourselves by swapping accounts around, we all have different ideas so it’s great to be able to share those around. We know our clients inside out plus we aren’t just a 9am-5pm agency. I wanted clients to be able to call us when they needed to, it makes things much more personable plus it makes us different.
Is running a business what I thought it would be? In short, no. I thought I’d have all this flexibility but when I’m not working in the office I’m working at home. I work when I’m on holiday and on my days off (which you never really get) plus you worry about invoices being paid on time so you can pay staff. (However, I wouldn’t have it any other way!)
Do I love what I do? Absolutely, I love being my own boss but it helps when you don’t need to worry about your staff. We are a great team and get on really well. We help each other, come up with ideas if one of us is struggling (mainly me!) plus I pay as much as I can, give annual pay rises and offer more days than statutory holidays.
What’s the best advice I can give to someone who wants to start their own business? I was very fortunate to have a client base/consultancy work before I setup as a limited company. Starting your own business always seems glamorous but I’d have hated to start out from scratch. It’s tough, lots of companies do what we do so you have to set your business apart. We are very loyal, put 100% in to everything we do and have built up excellent relationships. You can go to as many networking meetings as possible but people do business with people so pick one or two key networking events and become a regular. Once you have a client, build on it. Even do some work for free but don’t do too much as you’re running a business at the end of the day. It will take time to build up a client base and if you have the option of building up a business whilst working for someone else, do it as you’ll need the money.
If you’d like to know more about tgi MEDIA, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01325 468481 / 07736 471441 or visit tgimedia.co.uk