This weeks spotlight is on Ellen Cole; Marketing, PR, and Social Media Director at Little Seed Group:
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I love helping food and drink businesses to grow, thrive and blossom through award-winning Marketing, PR and Social Media services. I adore seeing my clients’ businesses grow from strength to strength; being part of their journey to realise the value and importance of nurturing their brand’s on and offline communication channels. This means I work very closely with all my clients to help and inspire them to embrace change within their organisation. Change within business is vital so that you can sow the seeds for success. And change is how I help my clients to succeed time and time again.
How did you get into Marketing, PR and Social Media?
I discovered that I had a natural talent for Marketing, Public Relations and Social Media whilst undertaking my postgraduate study at the University of York. From this, I sought out experiences to improve my craft . This resulted in me quickly gaining a paid internship in digital marketing, which then turned into a full-time position after I had completed my university degree.
What made you want to start a business?
As someone with severe dyslexia, I was always discouraged from self-employment due to it being an unstable industry. I loved my work and what I did, however I was incredibly unhappy with being employed. But I always had the urge to go full time freelance. When the last company I worked for full time suddenly closed their business with 48-hours’ notice I decided to follow my gut instinct. There was not enough time for me to find alternative employment, therefore, I decided to pursue my dream of starting my own business.
I had already been on an entrepreneur business scheme the year prior to my redundancy, which included my business plan. So I already had the basics in place, all I needed was some clients. On my first day of running my business, I remember looking at my bank account and realising that once my rent and bills were paid that all I would have left in my account was £10.00.
Instead of buying food, I went to the local library; made a list of businesses I wanted to work with, typed out several personalised letters, printed them out and then hand delivered them to businesses across York. Within two weeks of starting my business, I had a full roster of clients and haven’t looked back since.
What challenges do you face when running a business?
The number of roles you must take on as a business owner is the biggest challenge. I am not just a Marketing, PR and Social Media Professional; but I am also a bookkeeper, finance director, administrator, business operator, receptionist, tea maker plus more!
What’s your biggest success or achievement so far?
I am incredibly proud of my proven track record and always generating amazing results for my clients. Successes include:
- Increased corporate fundraising initiatives for a charitable organisation by 18% in six months. This resulted in them being able to guarantee vital services for their users.
- Enhanced daytime trade by 38% in six months for a Yorkshire restaurant chain through creating and delivering a highly-tailored marketing strategy. This led to them winning the title of Best Cocktail Bar by LUX Magazine.
- Developed and maintained several media relationships on behalf of a food supplier client. This resulted in them securing a television slot on ITV’s This Morning.
- Revamped and developed a client’s social media strategy which resulted in them securing several social media award wins and increasing their repeat custom by 14% and interaction levels by 42% in 12 months.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I have a huge passion for wildlife. When I am not working, you can usually find me driving around Yorkshire rescuing poorly and injured wild hedgehogs, and getting them to rescues who nurse them back to full health before they are released back into the wild.
What does work-life balance mean to you?
Having a degree of flexibility is important to me. Being self-employed means I can go to the dentist without worrying about rushing back to the office for a particular time. However, being freelance isn’t easy, you have to take on several roles and in my industry you have to be prepared to work longer hours at a moment’s notice. I don’t mind though as it is all part and parcel.
What’s next for you?
Although the majority of my work is based on retainer contracts, I firmly believe Marketing, PR and Social Media services should be accessible for all; which is why I also offer consultancy and training sessions. These have been a huge success, especially with sole-traders and SMEs. During the summer it was announced that I had become the first approved Mailchimp training partner in North Yorkshire. I was delighted to be the first in the county and have been busy training up sole-traders and SMEs to become more confident about their newsletter marketing initiatives. I will be bringing in more Mailchimp training courses in 2020 and am looking to expand the number of social media workshops that I offer.
How do you handle criticism or setbacks?
I have had my fair share of knock backs and it can be really difficult. The only advice I can offer is to listen; take the feedback on board and look for solutions in order to overcome it. I have been made redundant three times, which at the time knocked my confidence. However, I have found by taking control over my own career (aka becoming self-employed) I am able to generate my own stability and can guarantee myself an income. If I know my income is going to drop one month, then at least I know the circumstances and can plan ahead which is really important to me.
What advice would you give to people starting out?
Get a mentor, do your research and be confident, open-minded and positive about your business. I have had my fair share of knock backs. However, if you believe in your business and you feel it is worth fighting for, then keep going.
You can find out more about Ellen’s business on her website.