Tell me a little bit about yourself. What’s your background/career path?
My journey began at university, where I started taking on a few freelance writing gigs alongside my studies and two waitressing jobs. I continued freelancing on graduation to fund my travels around South America, and, on returning to the UK in 2014 with no money, decided to give it a go full time while hunting for a job. I soon realised that I’d created my own job, and the business grew from there.
Tell me about your agency. What is it you do and what prompted you to start up your own?
When I decided to give self-employment a go, I knew that I would want to grow from freelance roots – the idea of running an agency really appealed to me. With that in mind, I came up with the name Making You Content, invested in a logo and began building up my client base.
Before long, I was outsourcing to freelancers; in April 2016, I took on my first employee and things grew from there. Today, we’re a tight knit team of copywriters with plans to double in size over the next 12 months.
As a copywriting agency, we sit in a comfortable niche between full-service agencies – which many clients are moving away from – and freelance copywriters. We help brands communicate better, with a full range of copywriting services.
What do you think are the most important issues for developing your company culture?
Flexibility has been really important in creating our company culture. We have a ‘don’t take the piss policy’, whereby staff can adapt their hours or work from home when they need to – within reason. I’ve also made a big effort to build personal relationships with my team, encouraging transparency at all levels. They knew they can be open with me both in the office and our monthly catch up meetings, and together we work to help them grow and evolve and, ultimately, be happy inside and outside of work. It’s something I really want to maintain as we bring new members onto the team, by keeping the company structure relatively flat.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a woman in business?
Being taken seriously is always a challenge. As a young (25 yo), blonde woman in business, I find that a lot of senior decision-makers (typically middle-aged/old men) assume that I won’t know what I’m talking about. It’s great that, within a few minutes of conversation, I can usually demonstrate the opposite, but it’s an obstacle that my male counterparts don’t even have to consider.
The Wow Company’s recent survey of 471 agency owners across the UK has the figures as Female 27% – Male 73%. Can you share your thoughts on this?
For me, owning an agency is all about relationship building. Taking a prospect to the pub, shaking hands over a meal with a new client…. This is much more difficult as a woman, because when dealing with male business owners there’s a question – is it appropriate to go out for a drink or meal together – is it a business occasion or something more?
While I’ve managed to build a good network of male peers, I think it’s very difficult for both men and women to ask each other out beyond the stuffy confines of a formal meeting. For this reason, I think a lot of women tend to end up in freelancing roles – simply fulfilling requirements on a more piecemeal basis – rather than securing larger contracts and better client relationships that are necessary for an agency. It’s just one element, but I think it’s an important one.
Do you have a mentor, or are you a member of an agency owner community?
I’m fortunate to have a very tight knit network of peers who also own their own agencies, which has been invaluable in growing my business. Many have been very generous with their time, helping me to overcome challenges and make calculated decisions.
Do you feel as a female agency founder, they offer the level of support you need? Do you need additional support that isn’t currently available?
Not necessarily. For me, it’s a confidence thing – once you’ve become accustomed to asserting yourself in the business world, things flow more naturally. To tackle the gender imbalance, I think attention needs to be focused at the countless freelancers who don’t have to courage to scale up to agency level.
What other female founders inspire you?
Sandy Lindsay of Tangerine PR – she’s a generation ahead of me, and it’s inspiring to see how successful her agency (and now apprenticeship academy) has been. I think the barriers are far lower than when she started out, so my thinking is: if she managed to do it, why not the female founders of today?
What do you think makes a great agency?
A great agency should aim to become an extension of the client’s business, aligning their strategy to the overall business goals in an effort to help them grow. This relies on proactivity and strong communication skills – only by working closely together can a partnership be successful. As an agency, it’s your role to take the lead on this, taking the burden of outsourcing off the client’s shoulders and integrating seamlessly into their processes.
What would be your one piece of advice to future female leaders?
Be yourself and don’t feel intimidated by being in the minority. Often, it can work to your advantage if you know how to use it…