The Start Up Journey: An Idea Taking Hold
I remember having a casual conversation with some mates as a student, probably while sitting around having a pint, all the best ideas start with a pint, “by the time I am 35," I announced (the scary age), "I want to have my own company." I had no idea for a business, let alone about business but clearly that wasn't a factor in my thinking.
I graduated into a recession and fell into marketing when digital marketing was in its infancy. Turns out, I had a real knack for it. And not just for the BAU skills but the commercial side too. So maybe I didn't fall into it after all, but that's what it feels like, isn't it?
Fast forward 13 years, with two huge international conglomerates under my belt, a professional diploma in marketing from CIM and a range of start-up, scale up and agencies to add to the notches as well. I suddenly realised that I kept finding myself in familiar territory, history kept repeating itself.
A marketer's main purpose in a business is to position a company in such a way that it is attractive from both the outside and the inside. Engaging to all your different audience profiles. Marketing grows a business in what is deemed an "organic way" but is, in fact, highly orchestrated. Certainly, in the B2B world, if your marketing is working well, it shouldn't feel like marketing, you shouldn't even really notice it. It should feel like your business is attracting people "as if by magic."
I’d finally reached the stage in my career where I had built up all this experience from working within tech start ups and scale ups and growing them through strategic marketing techniques to get them to the next level, so where to next? I could continue the mission to grow these companies, help them reach the next stage and then when marketing was working effectively and the business was focusing on its new challenging area, start looking to move on to help a different company. Like some sort of marketing fairy godmother.
But why did I keep looking to work in a company? Why just for one company? The North East has a thriving tech scene, with a whole variety of different sized businesses all looking for growth, investment and strategic marketing expertise. I love what I do. I’m totally addicted to the buzz of helping a new company trying something new or refining something new. So why not get that buzz everyday?
Nothing in the world beats the excitement and boundless opportunities that present themselves to start ups and scale up businesses. I’ve always worked for new companies, even in the global conglomerates - they were either new divisions in that company or they were trying something unprecedented. It’s a bit of an obsession. Everyone working towards the same goal. It’s chaos and doesn’t always work. But you fail fast, move quickly, and come out on top. You change, you grow, you develop. It’s beautiful.
So how could I keep that buzz, doing something that I loved doing, and using the niche experience that I had carved out for myself.
Well, with one year to go before the scary age deadline I had plucked out of obscurity as a student with no grounding whatsoever, here I was. I was going to start out on my own putting all my experiences and expertise, carved out over the last decade, moulded by mistakes as well as successes (and let's be honest, mistakes are usually the best teachers!) into giving businesses valuable, and sometimes invaluable, marketing know-how.
Now, just how do you start a business?