22 Jan The Journey to an Amazing Future
Leaving the corporate world behind
A few people have already asked me, what made me decide to set up my own outsourced marketing support company and why I chose the children and parenting sector in particular.
It was an idea which grew gradually if I’m honest. My marketing background was very corporate up until five years ago with my experience being based in big glossy companies like KPMG, Reed Elsevier and Rockwool.
My last ‘corporate’ role was as UK and Ireland Marketing Manager at Rockwool and although it was a challenging and enjoyable role and they’d let me go back part time after having my daughter, my new part-time role was less fulfilling and still involved a bit too much travel.
First step into self-employment
So I bought a nanny agency franchise – Buttons Nanny Agency, the West London branch. I bought it in May 2012 and after lots of training (it’s an agency with very high standards), was ready to start trading in September 2012 just after my second born child had turned one. For the first few year managed with my daughter in part time nursery and my son at home full time. Luckily he was a phenomenal napper. The boy loved and still loves his sleep, unlike his Energiser Bunny big sister! I could put him down for a nap at 12pm, conduct several interviews and catch up with my recruitment and referencing calls and he’d sleep until about 3.30pm.
I built the agency up substantially the first four years, I had also taken on a part-time freelance Marketing Director role for a local drama company, Yourstage Drama. This role, along some contract work I had done previously, giving outsourced marketing support to the West London franchisee of Hartbeeps and the owner of The Giggle Company (party and event entertainment for children) really captured me. I quickly began to realise my true professional love still lay with marketing and not running a recruitment agency.
In May 2017 I sold my Buttons Nanny Agency West London franchise. It was a really smooth process, helped in no small part by the fact I knew the purchasers, one of the nannies on my books and her mother who runs Pitshanger Playcentre which I used to take my children to when they were little.
Finding my niche
I had made the decision that I wanted to set up a business to offer outsourced business support for children’s activity providers – and other children’s / family products and service. First of all I wanted to make sure my marketing skills, particularly digital marketing knowledge were fully up-to-date so I took the summer off to complete several courses, including the 5 month long Google Squared Diploma in Digital Marketing as well as several other online and in-person courses in business coaching, Instagram, Canva and branding, PR and more. In September 2017 I was ready to get started and registered Amazing Futures Ltd by the middle of the month.
I was kept busy the first few months with my existing work as Virtual Marketing Director for Yourstage Drama, plus had a few months work for Tots Play ltd, including hosting some Facebook live training on social media and talking at their National Franchisee conference in Coventry, hosting a marketing workshop for the +50 franchisees on copywriting and low cost, effective marketing methods for boosting class numbers. In December 2017 I agreed a Virtual Marketing Package with Amanda’s Action Club and look forward to joining their business to help take it to the next level in February 2018.
In September 2017, I teamed up with Amanda Frolich, the dynamic and ever-energetic founder of Amanda’s Action Club. She had been running a Facebook group for children’s activity providers for about a year and running quarterly events for the industry but we decided to join up to make it into more.
In October 2017, LEAP Networking was born (LEAP standing for Leisure & Educational Activity Providers). We increased the group from 200 members to nearly 1,000 in the space of two months and held a very successful Christmas party for the industry in December 2017, thanks to the generous support of the event’s sponsor’s ACORN: https://www.getacorn.com
We decided that collaboration should be a key part of the group’s ethos and opened the group up to all businesses whose products and services are aimed at children, parents and/ or families. The group’s core base is still children’s activity providers (of every kind of discipline from Art to Zorbing!) but we now count amongst our members toy businesses, children’s authors, teenage counsellors, children’s party product suppliers, children’s clothing businesses and much more. It’s easy to see what immense opportunity there is there for knowledge sharing and collaboration!
This is the very beginning of the Amazing Futures blog and the official launch of the business. I am really excited about the future, working with existing clients and helping new ones with marketing audits or taking on some of their marketing tasks if they need to free up some of their time to concentrate on the areas of the business that need them most and where their real talents lie, because that’s what it’s all about really.
It is possible that you CAN do all the marketing for your business but if you have ambitious plans for growth at some point you will need some outsourced marketing support – handing some of the work over to people who specialise in skills such as marketing, sales, social media, PR, as well as bookkeeping and financial admin, HR and administration. I intend to do the same and I’m already keeping an eye out for a part-time virtual assistant to help me with some admin and bookkeeping for Amazing Futures – practise what you preach after all!