3rd October 2018
What are the key skills or qualities you need to run a successful business?
So much of running a company is about delegating, which means it’s important that you’re willing to surround yourself with employees and colleagues who are more skilled than you. You must put your ego aside and trust in the abilities of others. Staying humble will help you to embrace the ideas of those you work with, which is vital because they may be better than your own. Without humility, you’ll never make any progress. You also need to be prepared to push yourself out of your comfort zone. In my experience, when you do, great things can happen. I’m still learning every day, and I know that will never change. Tenacity is important, too. Starting and growing a business is never going to be plain sailing, so you have to be resilient to endure the rough patches along the way. On the bright side, it tends to be the toughest situations that build the strongest people, and the lessons you learn when things go wrong are invaluable.
What has been your career highlight?
Setting up Glass Digital and seeing the progress we’ve made — especially in the last year. We currently employ 28 people, who make up what I consider to be the best and brightest team in the North East’s digital marketing sector. In August, we moved to a larger office space in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle. It’s a creative and cultural hub, which makes it the perfect place for us to be based. The main reason for the move has been to facilitate what we have forecast as a super period of growth, both in terms of client and staff numbers. We’ve invested heavily in the delivery side of our business and this – along with our unique collaborative way of working – has helped us to achieve a client retention rate of 90 per cent. And we’re gaining new clients all the time. I’m also very proud of the atmosphere we’ve been able to create in our office – there’s a hugely social side to working at Glass Digital. I think we have a culture that’s open, fun and supportive.
What sets Glass Digital apart from your competitors?
Transparency is a huge priority for us, which is rare, especially in the digital marketing sector. We make sure our clients always know what we’re working on, so they can see exactly where their money is being spent. And, rather than only having contact via a client relations manager who can pass messages on for them, clients have an open communication with everyone who is working on their campaigns. Not only does this help to build a high level of trust, but it also allows for a very collaborative approach to working, which we’ve found to be very effective.
We’re honest with our clients, too. We never make empty promises and are very open about the fact that certain aspects of digital marketing, such as SEO, are long-term investments that can take some trial and error to achieve the best results. The results aren’t going to be immediate, and we always ensure that new clients understand this.
We use regular KPI reports to show our clients how their campaigns are progressing, and we make sure these are explained clearly and honestly so everyone’s on the same page. Whether we’re getting the results we want or not, we always explain why this is and what we’re planning to do next. Again, this helps to build a fantastic level of trust, and shows our clients that we’re just as invested in their success as they are. We’re very proud of our high client retention rate – it shows that we get the results our clients are looking for. I think it’s all down to the open and honest communication we have from the beginning of every campaign.
What advice would you give to other women in business?
I think women can be very self-critical and over-reflective, so I would say have more confidence in yourself! Believe in your abilities and find your voice. From my experience, the emotional intelligence levels of men and women can differ a lot, and I think it’s important that we build on our inherent values, rather than denying their value. Characteristics that are typically considered to be feminine, such as compassion, can be very valuable in business. Our board of directors is made up of myself and four men, and we all have very different personalities, as well as varying skillsets. Regardless of the industry you’re in, I believe that having a range of perspectives can make for a more creative approach and, in turn, a more successful business. So, never be afraid to share your views, experiences and skills with the team you work in – even if it is predominantly male.
How do you achieve a good work/life balance?
With difficulty at times! I don’t believe you can ‘have it all’ when trying to strike a healthy balance between your work and personal life, especially if you have children. It’s often about compromise and making some tricky choices – which is when guilt can creep in. I think, as working mothers, we can put immense pressure on ourselves. But you have to be fairly flexible and accept help when it’s offered. These days, I think it’s a case of integrating the two areas, rather than struggling to keep them apart. My daughter will often come to work early in the morning with me before school drop-off. Similarly, there are times when I collect her at home time, then bring her back to the office with me. She’ll do her homework and enjoys having a nose around. I’m lucky to have flexibility at work, as well as a great support network of family to help with the likes of school pick-ups. Both of my working and personal lives are incredibly rewarding – so it’s worth making it work.