Nishi: So today I’m absolutely delighted to be joined by Emma Speirs from Bally Hoop pr. Emma, thank you so much for joining us. I’ve wanted you on here for a while now, and for the audience, would you mind, um, telling us what you do?
Emma: Yeah, sure. Um, so yeah, I’m, and I run Bally Hoop pr. It’s a PR and copyright agency, um, based in Northamptonshire. We help businesses to get seen by a wider audience. Um, we can get them featured in things like magazines, newspapers, tv, radio, sometimes even podcasts like this, you know, we can pitch people as guests. We write a lot of content as well with sort of writers by trade. The team are x journalists and magazine editors. So yeah, we do write a lot of content to help you reach more people with your key messages.
Nishi: That’s absolutely amazing. Um, and what does your team look like now? How many of you is there?
Emma: There’s three of us at the moment. There’s um, myself and Laura Smith and Claire Brennan, um, yeah, sort of a terrific trio if you like.
Nishi: Yeah, I see you absolutely everywhere. Like, um, uh, but it’s good, like, you know, when you got PR agency and they take their own PR seriously, like, um, I always struggle with businesses where they’re like, do as do as we say, not do as we do.
So it is, it’s like a leadership element, isn’t it? You’ve gotta, you’ve gotta make sure you are out there, um, because otherwise your, your customers won’t have faith in it, I guess.
Emma: Exactly. Yeah. I think you do need to practice what you preach and it’s not always easy. You know, we know ourselves or I know myself as a business owner that you can be guilty of ignoring your time and efforts into achieving things for your clients and then think.
Oh, hang on. I’ve not put anything out on social media. A few for a few days or, you know, you, you can sort of prioritize your client’s businesses over your own and, and that’s quite common. And that’s, that’s where we can help our clients out. You know, we can jump in and say, just to keep everything consistent, you know, we can take that off your hand.
You just let us know what you wanna do and we can run away and do it for you. Um, but yeah, we do try and practice what we preach.
Nishi: Yeah, that’s a really important one. It, it always looks like you’re having a lot of fun like on Yeah. On social media. Um, yeah, like a lot of the exhibitions and stuff you go to, but I, I guess you gotta take, you gotta put the fun into pr cause if you’re not gonna do it now is
Emma: I think as well, by our very nature, we’re all creative people so we find we’ll have an idea and then, you know, it’ll just snowball and escalate and. With the expos, we do tend to try and have a sort of fancy dress theme for everyone. And we’ve made a bit of a rod for our own backs there cause people expect it now.
And they turn and they go, oh, what are you dressed as this time? Um, but that kind of started with an idea and then, every expo now we’re like, right, what can, what do we need to promote? What are we looking to push and how can we tie this into a fancy dress idea?
Nishi: I mean, it’s amazing to see what you’ve done. Uh, have you been in business about six years now?
Emma: It’ll be seven next month, yeah.
Nishi: Oh seven. Okay. Yeah, because I, I remember. I, I’m just trying to think back to the story, how we first met. So I met you in like your first year of business And and Jackie Sherman was running a workshop for networking.
And we were at the four pairs pub and, uh, and And like we were in the courtyard just talking to each other. And, uh, that, that was when we first met. And then I don’t think I saw you again for a few months after that, but then, um, eventually we started working together. And, um, yeah, that, that’s really good.
It’s like I can, it, well, you know, networking is so important. It’s like, um, we’ve, uh, like those relationships, they last such a long time.
Emma: They do. And I think, um, yeah, just relationships so important. I mean, we were talking before we started recording about the Vulcan Works event that we were working on last week.
Um, and that came about through a relationship. There was somebody I used to work with who has now moved on to a different business. It was mentioned they needed PR for this event and she was like, oh, I know who we need. And, um, I think it is, it, it’s that. Thing of, you know, treat people how you wanna be treated yourself.
you, you never know at any point in your career an interaction you’re having with someone, they then go away and form an opinion of you. And I guess that’s pr to a certain extent, isn’t it? It’s all about your reputation and how you’re putting yourself out there. And you never know when people might then do a full circle and come back and want to use you products, you services, um, because of an interaction they’ve had with you.
So I think, yeah, relationships and networking is hugely important.
I, I mean, I, I definitely understand that I was, um, we just landed a client from someone I met like three years ago. Um, and yeah, and that’s happened in the past. It’s like, uh, yeah, some, someone met years and years ago and they’re like, oh yeah, we’ve met four years ago, and by the way, we need an accountant.
That is a really important one. And so Emma, what really great to really understand the story of how you got into business.
I started in, um, May, 2016, and prior to that I had been working, um, well, I’ll go right to the very beginning. So I, I always wanted to write for a living. I wanted to be a newspaper reporter or write magazines. I think. As a kid, I’m gonna sound really geeky now, but I was really into soaps and things like that, and I thought, oh, my ideal job would be to go and work on a magazine, you know, where you review all the soaps.
And I thought that’d be brilliant. Um, so yeah, I decided that that’s what I wanted to do is write for a magazine. So I did, um, English and media at uni, um, with journalism and um, then when I came out, sort of wrote to loads of newspapers and magazines. And because I didn’t have any sort of work experience or anything, I found it quite tricky to get in anywhere.
Um, I was offered a job at an advertising agency and, um, to begin with, I was just an office junior. But then after a few months they let me do some proofreading and then, then I gradually kind of, um, worked my way up. Um, and then I went off to work for a publishing house in London and they were doing a lot of, um, careers, magazines and publications.
So the ones that you see like in the school, libraries and university libraries and that sort of thing. So, um, yeah, started working on those magazines, um, yearbooks and things like that in London, and that was a really good experience. Um, and then that then led to me being offered, um, a job as an assistant editor, um, out of Footwear Magazine.
Nishi: How long were you working in London before you got offered that job?
Emma: Not that long, actually. Probably about a year. Um, and then coincidentally, I bought my first house around the same time when it was a real do upper and um, I found that, I was kind of. Commuting to London, doing a full day there, coming back, and then I was like painting skirting boards at night and stuff, and just got to port where I thought I need a job closer to home.
Nishi: You know what that was, um, the job I had before I started, um, my own business, I, I was working at home retail group in Milton Kings and, and we, we bought a house in Northampton. It was a real doer upper and it was, um, and back then, like we just didn’t have the money to properly do it, so we were doing a lot loading it ourselves and
it was just a, you know what, when you, when you’re on a shoestring, the things like the things you, you can actually do and stretch to and
Um, it, it is pretty impressive. So, yeah, I, I, I, I remember doing that, but, so you were doing your house up?
Emma: Yeah. And um, and then I got a job in Kerin. Um, I was assistant editor on a footwear magazine. Um, and that’s where I met Mark Costa who introduced us. he was the graphic designer on that magazine.
Um, and yeah, again after, and not very long, I went from assistant editor to editor and then I was given some other magazines. There was one on homeware and um, we also acted as part of a press team as well. So I was really lucky in the fact that this company then put me through some PR training so that I could, um, be part of their press team and, um, we would put together press releases.
Um, we would deal with any incoming media inquiries cause it was quite a visual business as well, so we used to get a lot of requests for tv, TV crews to come in and do some filming and things. I did that for about three years. Um, and then after that I went to work for Northampton Share Chamber of Commerce and, um, I was taking on, again, sort of a dual role editor of their magazine, but then also doing the pr their,
Nishi: their business is, sorry, their magazine is in business, isn’t it?
That’s it, So, um, and that, because you’ve always had really good connections with the Chamber, haven’t you?
Emma: So, Definitely think that’s, going back to what we were saying before about relationships that really helped me is, um, I was there for seven years in the end, um, and then left there to join a PR agency.
And, um, yeah, it was at that PR agency that by then I had two young kids and, um, they got chickenpox quite closely together right at the end of the holiday year. And then, Yeah, I, I kind of couldn’t come into the office. Um, so yeah, I asked if I could work from home and it wasn’t really a thing then. So they were like, no, not really.
You’ll have to take on paid leave. And I thought, oh, this is just ridiculous. So, Um, I started to think then, well, maybe I could just do this for myself, fit it in around the kids, do the hours that I wanna do. Um, and through having worked at the Chamber for so long, I thought, I reckon I’ve got a few connections if I kind of go back and sort of, you know, put a post on LinkedIn and say, this is what I do now.
Um, hopefully I can kind of start up a bit of freelance work. That was the plan. Um, but as in alongside what you were doing or just No. Sort of, yeah. Sort of quit my job, um, and then go freelance. That was a plan. And then I looked at a few freelance websites and started to. But sort of think about signing up for them.
But the rates were awful. You know, like your five and things like that.
Nishi: I’ve used that before, but nothing on five’s actually a fiber in anymore. No, it’s like the pound shop, isn’t it?
Emma: But yeah, I could see, like they were saying things like for a 200 word article, you’d get like a penny, a word, and I thought I can’t live off that.
Um, so yeah, I thought I’ll, I’ll update my LinkedIn and I’ll do a website, but then I didn’t know what website URL to go for, so I thought I can’t really have like emma spears.com. So I decided that, um, I was just gonna come up with a sort of business name I tried to think about different things and they were all kind of taken, you know, when you start looking and then, um, I, I started then thinking, right, I need to find a different word.
So I went through with thesaurus and I started to look up the different words of things that I wanted to either offer or be known for. And I think I looked up the word publicize, and then ballyhoo was in there and it was to generate a buzz or publicize something, create a ballyhoo. And I thought, oh, that works.
And then, yeah, looked it up and it, it was free. So yeah, decided to go for bally hoop PR and then put a website together and yeah, brand logo. And yeah, before I knew it, I had a business, which wasn’t really the intention, but yeah. And that was seven years ago. I,
Nishi: I guess that’s how most people get into it, they, because I, I was, Actually I had to, when I first started my business about nine years ago, I had to, um, put business plan together. Cause I was trying to get funding from the council, in, in hindsight, I, it was only a tiny little bit of funding. And today I wouldn’t even get outta bed for it, but it is.
Um, but it was, uh, but it did force me to put business plan together. And, um, and I, I remember like, I, I just wanted to be a freelancer when I first started out cause like, you know, at the beginning, you just want to, you want that freedom. It’s like, so it’s like, hey, as long as I can work from home in my pajamas, uh, everything, I didn’t put that on the business plan.
But yeah, the idea, I never put any staff or employees into it. I didn’t. I didn’t really talk about the brand. It was like, although North, north Northants Accounting as we were back then, we still kind of are. But, uh, abbreviated and, um, yeah, well, I, I remember doing that and like the first business plan, it was really just me as a freelancer.
Just, just like yours actually. And then I, when did it, when did it change? I was, I think I was about nine months in and I got telemarketer to work for me. And, um, she pretty much used up all the savings I had, but she got us our first clients. And it was, and then I actually, there’s something here if I can get other people to do stuff.
Um, and, and then grow the business while I do other stuff. And then that’s kind of when the seed started for, for me bringing on employees. How, when did you hire your first person?
Emma: So that would’ve been 2018. So sort of two and a bit years afterwards. And again, I tried different things before I tried, um, offering work experience through the princess trust.
That was quite interesting. Cause a girl that came was like sat at my dining table whilst I was sat in the office next door study.
And then I had a va and same thing, like she would come to mine every Tuesday.
And then yeah, we would sort of sit and work together. But yeah, I kind of got to a point where I thought if I want this additional help, I can’t do it all at home. So I think I got an office in the June hin Colby, just a, a small office in like a shared office space. Um, and then yeah, started looking to recruit.
Nishi: And when do you think you felt like a proper business then?
Emma: I’m not sure. I still do sometimes. I think it probably was around them when we had the office. I had my first employee. Um, we were getting sort of bigger contracts and um, yeah, it kind of felt like things were moving at a good pace.
And then, um, yes, that was September, 2018, um, when Katie joined us. And then, yeah, we just kind of carried on growing the business, getting more and more clients in. Um, and then when would it have been? Beginning of 2020, I was like, right, we need another writer. cause Katie was sort of taken on to be, um, not so much an assistant, but someone to support me.
So I could still do all the writing, but she could do things like, um, facilitating events, setting up photo shoots, um, yeah, just help basically be there to support what of the work I was doing. And, um, yeah, then I thought, I’m still doing too much of the doing, you know, I’m, I’m writing so much and I was doing sort of lots of extra hours, late nights, early morning, so, Yeah, decided to recruit another writer and um, yeah, we just appointed someone.
She was halfway through a notice period and then Covid hit. I do remember her ringing me and saying, look, do you still want me to come and work for you? Is there still a job? And, um, we had lost a few clients and there was part of me that was like, oh, if I’m honest, I don’t know. She was really good and I really wanted her.
And I thought, yeah, yeah, definitely there’s still a job for you. Carry on working you notice period. And then I kind of thought, I’ll just figure the rest out before she starts. And thankfully we found during Covid V that there were a few companies that, again, everybody was in shock, weren’t they? They, they didn’t really know what to do, what was happening.
And um, I think the easiest thing to save money on is sort of marketing and pr, isn’t it? It’s, um, They’re like, okay, we’re not able to get to the office, we’re not able to, some of our clients, you know, they, they had, um, shops or their work was very much on site and they couldn’t get on site, so they didn’t know where their money was coming from, and I totally understood that.
So, um, yeah, some turned off activity, some reduced what they were doing, but then after a month or so, it was, um, actually, how are people gonna know what we are doing? How can we reach out to people and say that we’re still operating, or, you know, we’re offering a different service, or that our office or shop might be closed, but you can do business online.
And then, yeah, thankfully after about four to six weeks people started coming back on board saying, actually, we need you to keep our business running. Um, so
Nishi: I, I guess, um, when you got employees, you. It makes you really decisive You don’t always get it right, but, um, you, you have to try and be a lot more decisive than you would be on your own.
you are at a point where you’re not just trying to convince yourself. You’re trying to convince them as well.
Emma: Yeah. That’s it. I think you have to be sort of really agile and flexible as well, don’t you? You need to, when something like Covid hits, it’s obviously not that that happens all the time, but it’s like, right now what do we do?
And you, you come up with a plan instantly, don’t you? And you don’t have time to hang about.
Nishi: Yeah. Like, you know when you’ve got, because when Covid hit and that member of staff who was joining you mm-hmm I guess it was the stakes would’ve been a lot higher as well. cause it wasn’t just about the risk to your sales.
It was the fact that they’re moving away from a role where, They, they’d be walking away from their furlough as well.
Emma: that’s true. I hadn’t really thought about that.
Nishi: Okay. I mean, but yeah, so it did, it made the stakes a lot higher, cause I know, I know a few other people in, in that scenario and like, they, a member of staff had just moved from another job to their job and then they had to fur, but they couldn’t furlough them.
Um, but they, there was no work for them either. And cause then like, you had to be in a job for I think like nine months or something like that. Um, Before, um, before you could actually claim it. So I, I do remember, but it is, it’s good that you could see that you were gonna grow and it, that you, you’d find a way, um, I think is Do you, do you have a philosophy in, in terms of like, you know, the future of your business when it comes to that kind of stuff?
Is it, what, what gives you the confidence to go and hire someone and, and you know, figure it out?
Emma: I think, um, it’s a tricky one really. I think you never really have a hundred percent confidence, I don’t think, as a solo business owner. I think if I was to have a business partner that I could maybe bounce ideas off or something, it’d be a bit different.
But when you’re making all the decisions you set off, I think you can’t help but second guess yourself and think, oh, am I doing the right thing here? I know I have these conversations in my own head with myself quite a lot. Um, but I think eventually whatever decision you come to, if it’s not working out, then a lot of these decisions aren’t reversible, are they?
If I decide, okay, now’s not the right time to hire, then I can always look to hire in a couple of months time or, um, it’s not really forever, is it? Um, but I do think you, you do have to be decisive and you do have to make decisions work and. A lot of it is making stuff work and I’m not a big believer in sort of manifestation or anything like that.
I think you, there’s an element of that. I’m a bit superstitious about some things, but I think you do need to take action as well, don’t you, to make things come true. So it might be that you’re focusing on something a lot more and that’s what makes it come true because you know, you want to grow the team to a certain size or you want to achieve a certain turnover or, um, you want a particular client and you think, oh, if I got that client then, you know, that would be brilliant.
Um, so I think sometimes, you make these small decisions, but you have your eye or your focus on something and that’s what drives you. And yeah, if that is the way you work, then eventually it works out.
Nishi: Absolutely. Um, it’s, it’s Alex Homo, although I think I’ve mentioned him in the three podcasts now.
I said May maybe, maybe I will stop doing it. But Alex Homo, he talks a lot about just understanding inputs. And uh, I think that’s really powerful cause like you don’t. You don’t always know how, you can’t always focus on that end result. You sometimes you’ve just gotta focus on the, the, the steps you’ve gotta take along the way.
And, um, but I, I’ve, it took me a long time to get to that point. Before I was just like, Hey, what if enough clients don’t come on, come along? What if I can’t make the cash flows work and the business fails? But actually after a while, I think I, I got to a point where I was just like, okay, look, I can’t think about not enough clients not coming along.
I can’t think about running out cash. All I can do think do is think about the things I can do now to make sure those things don’t happen. And so it’s like, am I connecting with enough people on Facebook? Am I spending enough money and time on seo? Am I, um, Spending enough time with our existing clients that that’s after a while you realize that’s, that’s all you can focus on.
Like doing the day-to-day as, as well as you can, and then every, every few months, then taking that step out of the business and looking at the, the bigger picture and make sure moving the right direction.
Emma: And that’s a hard thing to do as well, isn’t it? That is one thing I’ve, I’ve struggled with, I think is, um, you get so busy that you don’t have time to get yourself sort of out of the business.
It’s that whole working in the business or on your business, isn’t it? If you wait for a quiet time to work on your business, that quiet time might never come. So you need to somehow, Do both at the same time. It can be a bit of a struggle, particularly if you are really busy, but you, you know, for example, say you’re working on, um, a project that’s only a six month project.
You, you might have your head down like, we really need to get this done and we’re working all these extra hours, but what happens at the end of that six months? You still need to have something in your pipeline, don’t you? So, um, you still need to be getting yourself out there and, um, trying to keep those relationships going, trying to keep that presence up.
And it could be quite tempting to be like, I’ve had a really busy day today. I’m not gonna put that post on LinkedIn, but you still need to keep those things ticking over as well.
Nishi: it’s, I mean, it took me ages to get to a point where I could regularly post on social media. Um, but then I, I mean, I take a long time making habits, so, um, I think, I think about.
Eight years in, I just about got. Got it. Uh, but did you ever feel like, cause I, I think like personality wise in, in terms of business owners, you are probably a lot more similar to me than a lot of people I come across. Oh, okay. And I, I always, cause about, probably about up to about five or six years into my business, I always had the feeling like the rug was gonna get pulled out from under my feet.
And, uh, did, do you ever get that or did you used to get that?
Emma: I think a lot of people do. I think it is when you start speaking about it that you realize a lot of other people feel the same way and that that whole imposter syndrome where you never feel as if you are quite good enough or, and I don’t think any, nobody’s doing anything a hundred percent perfectly are they, there’s always ways you can improve, but I think, yeah, when you’re running your own business and you are putting yourself out there, um, You feel almost that you need to match up to everything that you are putting out there about yourself.
Um, and, and again, from a a PR point of view, we come across that a lot. That there’ll be clients of ours that are doing amazing things. And when you say to them, oh, why don’t you enter an award? They’re like, oh, no, no, but we’re not good enough to win an award or, Um, why don’t we put you forward for an interview with this magazine and oh, they don’t really wanna hear my story.
My story’s not as interesting as someone else’s. Or be like, but no, you are achieving these things. Or if we do an entry for them for an award and they win the award, they’re like, oh, thank you. And I’m like, well, we might have just put the entry together. You’ve done everything that we’ve put in there. So you are the one that’s had like a, a record year in terms of turnover, or you’ve innovated this?
Um, you know, brand new product or something, you know, they’re the ones doing the work. We’re literally just packaging it up and sending it to someone to judge.
Nishi: So, um, well you, I think what I described there about the rug, always feeling like the rug was gonna get pulled out from under you. I think that’s also where you get, love your humility as a business owner, cause you, you’re always like, Uh, there’s always this feeling that actually you, you, something can go wrong and you are, it’s almost like when you are in this epic landscape and you feel like how insignificant, insignificant humans really are compared to like the, the universe.
And, and it, I think business can teach you that as well. Like when you are, when you are an employee, you see like part of a business a lot of the time, but when, when you run your own business and you see everything and you, you understand everything that’s going on and it kind of, it does kind of put you in your place a bit.
And that’s one thing I’ve consistently seen is like business owners are like some of the most humble people I know. And, and actually it’s, it’s a good thing cause like one day, like if, if your staff make a mistake or if you make a mistake, I, I tend to find business owners don’t flip out because they know, they know that it could, the ne the next day could just be their team making a mistake.
And um, but the other side of that is well is that it comes down to your reputation and your faith and people having faith in you that you are always gonna put something right. By the way, um, we don’t make lots of mistakes, but Um, but it, every now and then it can happen just like in any business.
And, um, yeah, definitely.
Emma: So, and people learn from mistakes, don’t they? I mean, I think rather than flipping out, like you say, if um, somebody has done something that’s not right, then you, you sort of show them why it’s not right. And if by doing it another way you can achieve something better.
Then they’ll know for next time, won’t they? And they’ll work on it in a different way. And it’s all part of when you are an employer that you, you nurture people, don’t you? There’s that whole thing of being a manager or a leader and You can’t really chastise people for making mistakes and, and which employer, you know, how many.
Employers make mistakes. You know, again, you don’t get things right a hundred percent of the time, do you? So I think if you are open and transparent, and when your employees make a mistake, they feel, they come to you and go, oh, do you know what? I’ve really messed up here. I’m sorry. I’m like, well, no, we, we can fix it.
Nishi: It’s fine. But then if I make a mistake, it, you know, it’s kind of saying to them, oh, do you know what? I’ve made a bit of a bad choice here, but we’re gonna do this. And yeah. I think as with any relationship in life, sort of honesty, it does both ways. It does.No, I, I’d definitely agree with that.
It’s, um, and also actually it comes out to the culture of a business as well, doesn’t it? Because. If you are, if there’s a blame culture, then there’s also a coverup culture. And uh, and that’s when like, you know, things build up. It’s somewhere you don’t know about it until they explode. And, uh, and that’s quite, that’s quite an important one to avoid, so.
No, that’s really good. And um, yeah. Okay, perfect. So it sounds like you’ve had a, a really good journey up to now and it is Bali who, pr the only business you’ve ever run.
Emma: I’ve never run another business. Sort of closest I’ve come to it is sort of having properties that we’ve rented out,
Nishi: I guess it’s a, a bit different. Um, but that, that’s, that’s really cool. So what, what have you found is like the most challenging thing about running Bally hoop pr?
Emma: Oh, wow. Um, I think, yeah, recruitment is hard.
Nishi: Um, and do you feel it’s harder at the moment than it’s ever been?
Emma: Definitely massively. That’s pretty much every what everyone says. Yeah. I think as well, I was having a chat with somebody, um, on this last week actually an event, um, and she was saying that the people now that rock up to an interview almost with their own set of conditions. Um, I want to be earning 50 grand a year.
I want to be home based. Um, I want to have, I dunno, a company car. I wanna work 20 hours a week. I think, um, Particularly, I’m gonna sound really old now, but like younger generation. I think it’s, um, you know, the whole Instagram thing, isn’t it, that they think they can achieve this fantastic lifestyle with, you know, wearing Gucci, Louis Vuitton bags, traveling all over the world without actually working for it.
Nishi: I, I guess we’re about the same age, aren’t we? Um,
Emma: yeah, I think you’re being generous. Yeah. But I’ll go with it.
Nishi: So, yeah, I remember my first like, job out of uni.
It was like, it was hard just to get that it’s, and now like anyone graduating from the university, yeah, they’ll be saddled with eye watering debt, but they, they can pretty much just walk into anything. And, but then the other side of that is, it’s a bubble at the moment, isn’t it? I, I can’t see, like, everyone I’m talking to, like, and all, all the content I’m absorbing online and it’s, it’s saying it, it can’t go on forever.
cause actually the economy just won’t be able to grow if it can’t get painful. Yeah. Not so true. But it does. Um, yeah, so I think the statistic I saw was about half the workforce is about half a million people short. Wow. Yeah. And and that’s mainly cause of all the people that retired early, like people cause people are gonna retire anyway.
And then Covid probably just pushed them along.
Emma: Yeah. They didn’t wanna return after they’d had a bit of time off, I suppose.
Nishi: Maybe. Yeah. And then there’s probably quite a few young people as part of that who just realize actually photos a lot off. Fund them working and, uh, just, just trying to do a permanent photo or, um, yeah, it is, say I, I guess there’s a lot of people missing from the workforce, but then the government’s trying to get people who have already retired back into work based on their last budget.
I got, I think it’s more about getting people that retired to photos, Tories. But I, I won’t make a, I won’t make a political statement though. It’s, uh, I’ve, I’ve got a feeling the, um, the, the generous pension allowances are, are more likely to get ’em a vote than to get some back into work. Ah,
Emma: oh, it’s also tricky, isn’t it?
I don’t wanna go down the politics route, but everything’s so messed up at the moment, isn’t it?
just had some really random job applications and not a lot of people. There was another one actually, we were recruiting for a role, um, beginning of the year for social media executive. And we had some people I’d put on the ADFA about making a video as part of your application.
Again, just so we can sort of see skills and um, yeah, the amount of people that were applying and not doing the video. Just sort of skipping that bit. And then when you go back and say, oh, actually as part of the application process, we’re asking people to put a video together. They just didn’t come back.
Nishi: You know what, like in the past, you people like will tell you build a recruitment funnel and uh, it is so along, along the process of recruitment just have, have like tasks which weed people out. And um, and so, you know, the people that can follow an instruction, the people that can’t.
But now you get one person entering the funnel and, and uh, and then no one coming out the other side. So, or like Yeah. It recruitments completely changed in the last two years I think. Um, I think one of our. Strengths was we kind of topped up on people before we went into Covid because now we’re trying to get the team to size it is now.
It it would be, it would take a lot more work. I, I think the other side though is like, you know, we, this is like, there’s a lot of limiting beliefs out there as well. Like, you know, you, you can’t recruit that. I don’t believe that all you’re doing is, it’s more competitive. You’re fighting for a smaller pool of people.
But in the end of the day, if you, the workforce is large and if, if 5% of it’s missing or 10% of it’s missing, there’s still the other 90%. And um, what that means is, like, I, I guess for the money we were paying before, we might not be able to get as good a candidate, but for more money. Well actually no.
We do sometimes get a really good candidate for the same amount of money. cause a lot of, the lot of it comes down to having really strong culture in our business.
one of the most toxic things you can do in a business is just get like a really high-earning candidate in just Cause you had to pay them that when And their getting paid And then everyone else just thinks, mmm that’s good idea it. I’ll just move. It’s. So, uh, that, that is one of the challenges at that moment cause it’s not just about paying an extra few thousand pounds, it’s about paying everyone an extra few thousand pounds.
And that’s one of the things we’ve been working on with clients, just helping ’em understand actually from a pricing point of view, like you, you’re, you gonna have to work this all out again cause um, the, that huge part, your cost base has changed and you, you can try and save costs but the chances are you’re probably already efficient.
Emma: The costs are going up as well elsewhere in the business, aren’t they? Like utilities and like we’ve had our, our phone go up, our IT support go up, our electricity, like everything is going up.
So if your costs are increasing, but then you are also looking to pay out more in terms of wages to keep the people you’ve got or recruit new people.
Nishi: A lot of business owners that come across there, like, I suppose they still struggle to have that conversation around pricing.
it’s just one of those, um, really awkward things. I don’t know if it’s the, the. Everywhere in the world or maybe this country. But I think, I think it’s just, um, people, business owners just, it’s almost like they fear rejection.
And I, I think if I look at the psychology behind it, like what’s the one reason I’ve always put off price increases? It’s like, oh, actually what if don’t think I’m worth more money?
Emma: What if it feeds into that imposter syndrome thing we were talking about before as well, doesn’t it? And having that rug pulled from NDAs, if, I guess you’re opening yourself up to it, aren’t you, by saying, we’re gonna start charging you more money.
You don’t want people to come out odd, but you’re not very good, or we’re gonna take up business elsewhere, and all of that stuff.
Nishi: But then the other side of that is you. If you don’t do it, then you lose your staff then then you end up with the imposter syndrome the other way. It’s like, why are they rejecting me?
You know? Yeah, that’s true. Um, I, so yeah, you, you are always gonna get it and I think like, part of being a business owner is really, um, dealing with that and, and actually imposter. I dunno if you’ve ever watched the video, fake it till you make it by Amy Cuddy Na. Um, that’s an amazing video. It’s a Ted Talk and Amy Cuddy, she was like a, she was a Princeton graduate.
Um, and then she had a crash, which, um, took I think like 70 IQ points off her brain, sorry, off her intelligence. Um, and then she, she tried to get back into academia and she was told she just wasn’t intelligent enough. And then finally she, she managed to like, pretend being intelligent. And then re became intelligent.
Emma: Oh, how interesting. Isn’t it?
Nishi: Yeah. Because she’d convinced herself she was smart. And then she started behaving like a smart person would behave again and then her IQ went back up. And then part of the videos, it’s really moving actually. cause then it’s all about how she’s helped other people do the same thing.
Um, cause like it, it’s Harvard Business School, she’s like one of the, um, professors there, or she was Wow. So like you, you get loads of people with imposter syndrome there. Like, you know, people that have just gotten through but through the skin of their teeth. And they’re surrounded by all these big wig CEOs who, who are doing their mba.
And uh, some of them were just like, I don’t belong here, I shouldn’t be here. And then it’s, it’s about how she helps and, um, and how she helps them actually. I feel like they do belong there. And then excel and. And then as part of that as well, she like, you know, she talks about body language. Like she, she’s always, um, talking about like, you know, if you go into an important meeting, like you’ve just gotta express yourself.
Emma: Be before you go in, not like during, so like, um,
just stand up to your power stunt.
Nishi: Exactly. And it’s, it’s really good. And that was one of the first videos I, I watched. Um, I think Jackie Sherman actually who, the person who, um, where we met her event, she actually introduced me to that video when I first started out in business.
And that was, Um, that was a really good video cause I was like, whenever, it doesn’t matter how, like, how unconfident I feel. I’m just gonna pretend like I am.
Emma: You started really young, didn’t you? Your own business?
Nishi: I was 29. We’re like the same age I guess. Nice. Um, I was, I was 29 when I started my business, so about, about nine years ago. And, um, I like, I was competing for business against like accountants who are like, you know, late forties.
And luckily a lot of those retire accountants took curly retirement now. No, but um, It was, it was one of those things I was like, wow, they got like 30 years of experience. Like, what have I got? And, um, so all, all you can do in that situation is, yeah, you gotta fake it till you make it, but also you do have to make it.
So, um, it is, uh, hopefully it’ll get a lot better and then hopefully people come. Back to their senses, maybe, um, unretired, uh, yeah, and, and will say like, uh, yeah, employees will kind of become a bit more reasonable in terms of what they’re expecting when they move. So, uh, I’ve, I’ve got a feeling in the world’s gotta get back to normal at some point.
Emma: Yeah. I mean, one thing, again, going back to why I started my business in the first place was because I didn’t have that flexibility. So, yeah, it’s something that I’ve always championed and when I, I sort of have recruited people, um, I’m not saying I exclusively hire mums but yeah. The people that have worked for me have all been mums And it’s something that I feel very passionate about is that there’s so many women who, you know, they go off to university or they do an apprenticeship or whatever qualifications they’ve got, and then they start building this career. They have children, and then it’s almost like, Their career doesn’t matter anymore.
You know, they either have to reduce their hours right down, which then takes some of the enjoyment out of the job. Maybe, you know, again, I’ve worked places where if you asked to reduce your hours, they then obviously take tasks off you and give them to other people, and then you’re like, oh, it’s not really the same job anymore.
Or, um, yeah, you decide to work longer hours, but then you don’t see your kids or you have to pay out for childcare or a nanny. And, um, inevitably you find, you speak to so many people and there’s this big campaign that, um, pregnant then screw to doing at the moment as well, where the whole sort of gender pay gap, all of that.
There’s so many women out there that have fantastic experience skills. They can bring so much to a business, but because of that, um, rigidness in terms of, you know, you need to work at an office, you need to do nine to five. They’re just not able to do that alongside having children and having to be there for the nine o’clock drop off in the 3:00 PM pickup.
It’s just so unfair. So I think that flexibility is hugely important, but then yeah, it’s kind of managing those expectations a bit as well, that. You need to earn your stripes almost, don’t
Nishi: I always get caught in the middle on this one. Cause we, we’ve got some members of the team that really want it and some, somewhere it’s, it’s not necessarily suitable. But one, one thing I have realized is actually, yeah, like young mothers or, um, and fathers I guess, um, they, they are huge, a huge resource that is sometimes undervalued because like, if I.
I’ve got a kid, two kids, one a, one and a half year old and a four year old. Yeah, four and a half year old. And if I just look at how much I’ve grown as a person in terms of maturity and um, and also determination and, and just professionalism and all that kind of stuff since before they were born and afterwards, then actually that kind, all, all those things like, um, and also my wife is probably.
Grown a lot more than I have. Um, she reminds me that is. Um, but it’s, she, she’s as a mother, she’s grown, um, really drastically.
I I, I’m starting to see, uh, at this stage, you know, why these larger businesses work so hard to retain people through their, like maternity cause like, you know, statutory maternity pay, it’s not really, it’s not enough these days. It’s, it will. It just like minimum wage isn’t, isn’t gonna get you the best candidates because people, people want to know actually, they, they wanna maintain that relationship throughout their pregnancy and then you’re getting someone back on the other side.
I think part of it is, they, they, they’re probably under more pressure because they’ve got more stuff going on. But actually if they’ve, if they’ve grown well and they can handle that pressure and they’re still gonna prioritize your business to, to a reasonable level, then actually you can end up with a very good candidate for probably the same amount of money you’re paying them for plus inflation.
Emma: And they’ve probably got like 20 years experience because they’ve had that experience before. They’ve had children. And they, they wanna pick things up again, but they wanna be able to work in a way where they can still. Use their skills and their experience, their knowledge and build on it as well.
It’s not, they’ve not given up, you know, they, they still wanna Build on their career and personal development and learn new things and all of that stuff, just as much as they did before. I don’t think it squashes ambition and, yeah, get me on my soapbox. It really annoys me. It is.
Nishi: I mean, for, for us, the, I, I think the, where it balances out is, one thing I I’ve found is just having a team in an office, you get that learning by osmosis.
Just people being surrounded by the right kind of conversations, picking up what’s going, being able to react to stuff quickly. Yeah. And I, but I, I do understand like, you know, in the long term, there probably is a balance there, but also it can be, it can be the culture of the business as well, because some businesses are probably better suited to working from home than others.
Like for us, I, you know, I used to love working from home, but then, Because of Covid. Ironically, I got dragged back into the office and we had a junior team and, um, some people in the business needed to work from home. So I, I, I stayed with the junior team, but, um, I, I think when you, when you’ve got a mixture of junior team members and more senior team members, like the senior team members tend to do really well at home and they tend to be really efficient junior team members.
It can be a little bit harder to keep, um, an eye on them. But I think, I think it’s definitely possible to achieve the balance. It’s just the bus, a business has to put a bit of effort into achieving it in the first place and then, and creating a system that
Emma: works. I agree. I mean, when we gave up our Corby office that was at the sort of height of Covid, I think we’d been paying rent for six months and we’d not been able to get in there.
So, um, Again, we didn’t know how long the sort of timescale was on these things. Did we? When it got to six months, I was like, do I just make a call and stop the office? So that’s what I did. And we signed
Nishi: up to our Milton King’s office the month before Covid Oh, no. To, we wanted to expand out and, uh, we were in 12 month contract, but I, I still did use the office over Covid
Emma: anyway, but, um, it’s not the same.
It’s not why you got it though, is it? It’s different. Yeah,
Nishi: exactly. Yeah, it was. Um, but yeah, that’s, it’s always frustrating when it happens a sign off something and then realizing don’t need it, but,
Emma: but that’s it. So we all reverted to working from home and it did work. But I did miss that, what you’re saying about the osmosis and sort of bouncing ideas off each other and Yeah.
As a bunch of creatives, I think that that’s valuable. And then we had just had somebody start, like I said, at the beginning of Covid, and then we hired somebody else again. We had to do the whole interview process over teams and then, I remember I met up with her and then Acosta halfway between our houses to give her a laptop in the car park.
Cause it was still, everything was just locked down. Yeah. And then we sat across the car park with the car doors open, having a chat for like an hour. Oh right. It was like her induction, if you like. Yeah. Um, it was all a bit crazy. But yeah, we were completely remote for a while and I felt that we’d lost that.
And the fact that we had two new team members, it felt that we never properly gelled as a team because we’d only ever seen each other on screen. So that was the motivation behind it in the office that we’ve got now was, like you say, getting that mix right. So, you know, we can only be in the office altogether.
We have a team day every Thursday, so we’re always all in on a Thursday. And then as and when maybe we’ve got clients coming in for meetings or there’s other stuff we need to work on together. But we definitely have that core day on a Thursday where we’re all in working together because I think you need it as a team.
Nishi: What, so what kind of businesses do you mainly work with at the moment?
Emma: Um, we work with lots of different businesses, really. Um, we have, we work with businesses that are in construction. Um, we work with ones that offer sort of service based businesses, sort of business to business services. We work with retailers.
Um, yeah, it’s a real sort of mix of different companies and industries. Um, there’s a battery company we’re doing some work for at the moment. Um, so that’s been a bit of a learning curve for us. We’ve had to learn all about like lithium and different battery technologies and stuff. Um, electric vehicle batteries?
Uh, no, they do lots of batteries for different things. So they do like, um, area work platforms, you know, like cherry pickers and things. They, um, boat batteries. Um, yeah, loads of different applications. Um, But again, that’s the beauty of what we do really, because I guess you can apply almost like the framework or model of what we do to any business.
It’s just we get to know our, get to know the businesses we’re working with, do all the, the research, um, have sort of regular monthly calls with them so we know exactly what they’re working on, what they want to promote. Um, we do the research, we do the interviews, you know, we interview clients over the phone and, and kind of pull pieces together.
Um, but yeah, you can become an expert in lots of things and it’s quite funny if you are ever, you know, having a chat with someone and then you start talking about the different types of asbestos or Right. Yeah. You get really technical about different things that you’ve had to learn about. And then people like, well, how do you know about that?
Or actual, um, covid, when all that kicked off, we were working with a network of GP practices and um, that was one thing that kept us really busy is they had a lot of communications they needed to get out all around. Yeah, basically how the surgeries were closing, but you know, how people could access. Um, so you see you did all of that for them.
We did all of that for them. So we rolled out some stuff from top level NHS that was kind of being, um, disseminated across all sort of doctor’s practices. But then we also had one specific to each of those eight practices, and we were managing their Facebook pages and we were answering all the questions that were coming.
As you can imagine, there were so many people, um, sort of sending questions in going, well, what about this? Or, and then when the vaccination rolled out happened, it was, well, when is it my cohort? You know, and people wanting to jump the queue because, you know, they’ve got an underlying health condition even though it’s not one of the ones that’s been listed in the first cohort and all this stuff.
So trying to navigate all of that. But quickly we found that we were becoming almost experts in the vaccination and, and how it worked and what cohort we were on at the moment. And then when you saw like people moaning that I don’t know, Doris hasn’t had it, even though she’s got a heart condition, you’re like, but you are not gonna be invited for another couple of months yet.
And you’ll be like, no, just need to stop talking about it. But some of these things, because you do really get absorbed in what you’re working on, it is quite funny. Then when you hear other people talking about it and you think, oh actually I know a bit about that. It’s a bit of variety. Well, we’ve,
Nishi: we, we have quite a broad client base as well, and actually I, I do sometimes think cause there’s always a pressure in business to try and, um, to try and specialize in one industry.
And I notice there are some really successful businesses out there that do just specialize in one industry, but like that’s, that’s what we call vertical nicheing, right? So horizontal nicheing is when you specialize in one type of service really. And um, but I, I dunno, I find it really boring just to specialize in one thing.
Like, it, it, it is good having lost, although it is hard work as well, but try and, You, I guess you don’t wanna go too broad, but you don’t want, wanna go too narrow and
Emma: I mean we, I’ve known sort of people I’ve, um, known or met through different PR circles as well where they’ve decided to niche down.
I know there was one lady who I knew who decided to niche right down to work with just the wedding industry and then she found she got quite bored and she opened things up again. And I think what she kind of pitched herself was being the expert in a particular field. I dunno, you kind of risk licking a bit silly if you then go back on that and, um,
So you’ve got to be really key. I mean, but then somebody else, um, who I know she used to be a solicitor. Then trained up in pr and now she works with specifically law firms because she knows, you know, she has that legal knowledge and she knows how it works. And she’s built an amazing business through doing that.
Nishi: I, I guess what one of the strengths say, um, of you working with lots of different businesses is, and industry is even, is you’ve probably seen what work works well in one industry, and then you can probably cross apply it in terms of
Nishi: That’s probably harder to do if you just focused on one, one type of business or one, one industry.
I think for us, we, we, although we specialize, don’t specialize in one industry, we do specialize in a type of business owner. Like typically they’ve got like, you know, one to 10 employees and, um, they, they, they want to build up a small business that’s highly profitable, but they don’t necessarily want to build like a gigantic empire.
They don’t necessarily wanna be the next virgin. They, they, but they want to have a really good quality of life, uh, for themselves and for their team and their families. And that’s what we focus on.
I, I guess I asked you what’s the hardest part of, um, well what’s the most challenging thing, um, you’ve done? And that’s really just recruiting staff, isn’t it? And building that team.
Emma: But I think, yeah, recruiting, um, staff has been hard. Is that, I also think doing it on your own is hard.
Nishi: Yeah, this is, um, I, I sometimes think about this.
Like I, I see we’ve got some clients who are partnerships, so they got, got someone else in the business and I, I do, sometimes I do envy them a little bit cause you’re like, Hey, that person’s really good at sales, that person’s really good at operations. And um, and then like, I guess if you are on your own, you have to be really good at everything.
Or, or outsource it. But even you, without sourcing, I’d always take it with pinch of salt cause it, I I think like you’ve gotta understand the basics of something before you outsource it. You don’t have to be perfect, perfect at it, but, um,
Emma: And the, the what’s on the line as well, it, it’s not gonna matter as much to, if you’re outsourcing your sales, for example, okay, you want them to deliver, but if they don’t bring in the sales, they’re not really gonna suffer as much as you as the business owner are they?
Nishi: Yeah, I’d you are, you’re absolutely right. Yeah. But then it probably costs less to outsource the, your sales and to give someone half your business. Yeah. Uh, but then do you want, do you want 50% of a really big pie or Yeah. Do you just want a, a cupcake?
Emma: And again, it’s obviously got potential to go wrong because again, I’ve been having conversations with them, someone I know who’s in the process of setting up his own business with an ex-colleague.
And I’m like, oh, you are so lucky that you are kind of going into it with somebody else, because I’ve kind of done it all on my own and it can be incredibly lonely. Um, but then I also know somebody else who’s set up, um, well, I think he set up the business himself first, then he brought a partner on, and then it all just kind of went wrong and they’ve fallen out massively and it’s, he’s kind of walked away with nothing.
And you think, oh, that’s the thing, isn’t it? You can have that partnership. There’s also more risk and potential for it to go wrong as well as the support.
Nishi: Yeah. Actually, I think. For every two stories. I hear about it going really well. I hear one about it not going so well.
But then also the other side of it is when you do finally look back at everything you’ve achieved, you, you, you kind of know, well actually even in five years time, 10 years time, when I look back at my business, I never think, Hey, I did it all by myself. Because you, you can’t, you, you’ve got a team and they were with you.
Yeah. And you and Yeah. I mean, even though they might not be partners in the business, they are, they were partners in the business. They, they just got paid in a different way. And um, and they still had to have faith in the business to, to get there. May, maybe it’s, you know, if, if the idea of partnership, the reason that puts people off is cause they want to just do their own thing, then you never really completely do it by yourself, but you do.
With a partnership, you’ve, you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta compromise a lot. Whereas if you are doing things your own way, you, you get to do things your own way, but then you’re kind of, but then that’s where you can make big mistakes. Because you don’t have that other, other voice who’s your equal saying, Hey, don’t, don’t do it this way because of this, this, and
Emma: I think that’s it. It’s, um, Going back to what I was saying before about having like full confidence and your decisions and stuff like that, I think I’ve found that hard that I kind of question myself a lot. And, um, Knowing if you’ve done the right thing.
How, how do I deal with self-doubt these days?
Um, I’m just trying to remember. I should, I should. Because I think recently anyway, like post covid covid for accounting firms was actually reasonably good. Um, apart from, We had to work really hard. I, there was some accounting firms I heard of that just furloughed themselves and exactly.
And I think there was a couple in North Hampton and, um, essentially, they, their clients caught up like on, on the first day of, um, COVID thinking Holy crap was screwed here. And they, and they just, um, got like an artist message, which said, Hey, we are, we’re, we’ve been furloughed. Um, so that, that wouldn’t have been good for those clients, but we did actually, we picked up a couple of clients from accountants who had furloughed themselves.
Okay. It’s like, uh, but now like the self-doubt, it’s, it, it comes and goes. But I think I’ve realized like every successful person, like I’ve, I’ve spoken to the, the self, they, the self-doubt never goes away. It’s, um, and I, I think. The only time it goes away is for people who aren’t pushing themselves.
Like, if, if things get too easy when you are operating within your comfort zone, then that’s when it, it’s easy not to have self-doubt.
And as, I think as a business zone, you never get to that point where you are, you are not pushing yourself, do you? You’re always, You’re always just trying to do your best, aren’t you?
Best for your employees. Best for your clients. Um, Almost to the detriment of yourself. You’re just constantly pushing when I am.
Nishi: I, I, I’m, I’m absolutely always pushing it as well. Sometimes uh, I try and push it less cause it, you can end up tiring out everyone around you and you’ve gotta be aware of that because people don’t always work at the same pace you do.
They, they don’t always have the same priorities. And if you, but you still need them and you still want them. Um, so you can Try trying to sort of manage that energy, manage that, that the self-doubt. I, I think it, it’s always been there, but you’ve just got to, you’ve just gotta think back over time and realize the things you did before that that helped you deal with it.
And it was always, it was always about focusing on the things that you can control. And understanding the things that you couldn’t. And, um, and that, that’s been, that, that’s been a good strategy for me.
Emma: I think that is a big lesson I’ve learned as well. And then also, Um, managing your reaction to something as well, if it’s something you can’t control?
Nishi: I, I have to do a lot of work on that. It’s, uh, ID these days, ID sort of, I guess just before you, um, before you, uh, came in for the podcast, we, we had like a little client emergency in hindsight was nothing, but I was just like, I’ve only got five minutes to deal with this before the podcast starts.
And then I was like, okay. And then I, I was sort of, I probably was panicking a bit. I was like, cool. A member of our team was dealing with it. He was on lunch, so I called him like three times. It’s like, but you know, he came back in, we match, resolved it. Luckily you were 10 minutes late. Uh, and then, uh, uh, uh, but the, the traffic was, was pretty bad.
So, um, and then, we might actually get a, a du done in time and um, but actually in hindsight, it was one of those things I could, they, they could have easily have just dealt with without me. It was, um, I dunno, hopefully. So it does, you do have to manage your reaction. Like I think sometimes it’s tempting to try and get something resolved straight away, or attempting to feel really passionate about something, but actually, like, as a business owner, you’ve gotta.
Take take a step further back further back than most other people would, and then just view it in the grand scheme of everything else.
Emma: That’s it. I think, sometimes if, if you’ve received like, I don’t know, with an email that, because again, they’re quite hard to judge in terms of tone, aren’t they?
Anything? Oh really? And then I, I, if it’s something I think is a bit critical, then I get really kind of upset about it and I think, oh no, no, I’ve really disappointed someone. I’ve upset someone. And kind of escalates in my head. And then I think actually what they’ve said isn’t that bad. It’s just you’ve chosen to react in that way and it’s just, um,
Nishi: But sometimes it is actually, cause like, it’s amazing how you can talk to someone that’ll be really nice in person or on the phone. They like, when they use an email, they’ll just, they’ll use the language they wouldn’t use in person. And it can. It can, I, I think a lot of people, or most people struggle with like, getting their tone right in an email.
So, but then I think people have gotta understand that the tone is never quite right in an email either. But actually that’s kind of why we, we had that mini emergency before the podcast started, cause it was quite a strong, strong email. Um, but it, it was all right, it was all sorted.
Everyone was happy afterwards. Um, but yeah, absolutely. So, and, and in terms of like, I I, we kind of understand what the challenge has been along the way, and I guess I’ve kind of been there with you along those challenges and, and you’ve been there for hours. What would you say like, the most rewarding thing about growing your business has been?
Why do you, why do you keep doing it?
Emma: Um, I think it is knowing that you’re making a difference, and that sounds really twy, but I think there are some businesses that, um, You know, have come to us for help. Well, um, for our services and we’ve seen them grow. You know, we’ve managed to get them, um, in sort of their target publications.
We’ve managed to really grow their reputation. We’ve helped them win awards. And you’ve just kind of seen them start off as quite small or, well, not even, not, not so much small, but like a hidden gem that nobody knows about. To be in something that everybody knows about and people are talking about.
And you, you kind of, you see their star rise, I suppose. And I still really enjoy doing that, working with people.
And then obviously the team as well, the. Whenever they achieve something that they think maybe they weren’t that confident in doing, but then they’ve done something and you think, ah, well done. You know that, that’s brilliant. Um, and seeing them grow, that’s really good. And like, um, Laura for example, um, hopefully she won’t mind me saying, but when she came to us, she was going through a bit of a, a confidence crisis and she says sort of since she’s joined Valley, who like the way she’s kind of been nurtured and she’s grown, she’s been promoted as well within the business.
Um, her, yeah, her confidence has come back and um, yeah, you can’t really put a price on something like that if you’ve been able to do that for somebody. Um, yeah, I think just sort of working with the team and, and seeing them grow and blossom and developing friendships as well, you know? Yeah. I think we’ve got a really good team and a really good culture and, and that makes me proud and yeah, the results that we’ve managed to get for our clients, that makes me proud.
So. And also actually I was saying to my husband at the weekend, we were talking a bit about, um, sort of starting up a business and, and everything that goes into it. And then he was sort of saying, well, what did you want out of it when you started? And I said, well, I just wanted a, a job almost to create a job for myself that fitted in around the kids.
Um, and then he is like, so you’ve managed to like, pay yourself every month, pay into the house every month for nearly seven years. He was like, that’s a pretty big achievement. And I’m like, yeah, yeah, it is actually. When you’ve put it like that, that kind of almost going back to the original why and you think, yeah, I’ve managed to create a business that’s been able to not only do that for me, but to do that for a team as well, you know?
Nishi: Um, I think building our team’s been one of the most rewarding things, although working with our clients is also because, you know, when you are still working with someone like, you know, eight or nine years later, it’s, that doesn’t happen by accident. Uh, he eats because. They really value what you do.
Mm-hmm. And it, it makes it, it does mean something. But yeah, we, we’ve taken members of the team who start off with apprentices, then moved into management roles in the business. Uh, the conf. Yeah. The confidence has grown a huge amount. They’re really productive. And Id, I know people are always talking about that there’s a shortage of people, but actually in my opinion, there’s a shortage of really good quality jobs.
Because people, people can work in, and hopefully there’s no backlash if I say this, but some can, we can work in a Amazon warehouse or they can work in. A, a pub and not get any kind of training. It was, but sometimes they do get training. They, there’s a lot of, they can be an Uber Eats driver and literally get paid less than minimum wage and, and that all gets classed as work by the government.
But, um, at, but giving someone a proper qualification, giving someone the confidence to actually be highly productive in the country’s economy, that’s a different kind of work. And that, that’s one, one of the things I set out initially, I just wanted to be self-employed and have that freedom. But when. I did realize I really wanted that team.
Like one of those criteria I, I said is, you know, it’s not about the quantity of jobs that we create. It’s, it’s about creating really high quality jobs. And, and I kind of feel it, it’s a bit of a shame. Like other businesses don’t, um, don’t actually follow that. Um, I know yours does definitely, and we’ve got lots of clients who, who do, but there’s a lot of businesses as well where, you know, they’re happy to pay a little bit more without giving it what anyone, some development.
And then people are happy to take a little bit more without any kind of long-term development. And I always find it a little bit, uh, a little bit sad, um, when, when that happens. ,
Emma: The world of work is constantly changing, isn’t it? Even if you have been working in the same industry for a long time, there’s always new things you can be learning and.
Um, yeah, particularly sort of in PR as well, PR and marketing. That changes all the time, doesn’t it? You’ve always got to learn about the next big thing and So yeah, all of that stuff, stay on top of it.
Nishi: I did a video on compounding recently and, um, Actually, I’ll give an example. Like, we sent this game called command A tag at school, and it was like, it was like tag, but like if you tag someone, they wouldn’t, they you, they wouldn’t just be it, you’d also still be it.
And it was, it’s a bit like that in business because like the more people you tag then they’re all helping you grow. And um, but in terms of knowledge, like, you know, business needs knowledge and when you’ve got like nine or 10 people in a business and, and your culture is that they know to be part of your culture, they need to, they need to go out and learn.
They need to bring stuff into your business. It’s expected of them. Then the rate, you start bringing knowledge into your business, just it, it just is expend exponentially more than when you were just doing it by yourself. So I kind of feel like. One of the things that’s most rewarding for us is that we just built this asset and it is this team, but it’s also a culture.
Um, and, and we’re cons constantly bringing that information back.
Emma: So, Yeah, definitely.
Nishi: One thing I really wanted to ask you, cause I know you do a lot of copywriting in the business and what’s Chat G p t doing to the industry at the moment?
Emma: Yeah, that’s an interesting one actually. Um, so yeah, I, I was initially a bit worried about it.
I thought, oh God, is this gonna sort of do us out of a job? And um, me and my nine year old son actually were having a play about with it one night and we were asking it to do different things. So he was like, write me a poem about Black Panther Oh, right. And stuff like that. And we were just seeing the results that came back and then yeah, it was all right.
Um, I don’t think you can get across personality, tone of voice, um, You know, something that’s true to your brand through something like that. Um, and again, one thing that worries me and I, I posted on, um, Kevin Robinson, he’s a copywriter, and he was asking a question about us on LinkedIn yesterday, and I commented on his post and said, the one thing that worries me about it all is where is, um, where is the app getting its knowledge and its information from, it’s obviously getting it from the internet.
So if in time everybody is using chat g p T to create their content, it’s obviously gonna be getting content from other, um, sort of AI related content, isn’t it? So this is, um, it’s gonna be like a big game of Chinese whispers where eventually all the knowledge is just taken out and everything reads and sounds are saying.
Nishi: I had a conversation with Ariel about this earlier, um, because at the moment what we do is we, we film a video. Then we put, we send the video to rev.com to get the transcript and we put that transcript into chat G p t to rewrite it. Okay. To just tidy it up. And then like one of Ariel said, Hey, why don’t we just tell chat g b t to write about this topic?
Um, and I’m like, well, the thing is, the video I did, there’s probably something unique in there That isn’t on the internet somewhere else. And even if it’s 1% of that video or like 5% of that video, that’s unique. And by putting it into Rev and then putting it in chat, g p t and giving our own chat, g p t our own knowledge to form a, a, um, blog off, then what we’re then doing is, um, we, we are potentially creating something re really unique and in my opinion, Google.
Is is I think Google will still be able to keep our charging pt. It’s a big challenge, but all Google’s gonna do is get better at understanding original content.
Emma: And hopefully that will work in our favor then if we are generating original content and it’ll be sort of valued more and yeah, sort of higher authority on Google.
Um, but then I, I recognize that it does have a place and it can help people. I mean, there’s another business owner I was speaking to. Um, I was a bit insulted actually, but um, we went in, it was actually like a, a kid’s party and he was like, oh, have you seen about chat G P t? I was like, yeah. He’s like, oh, I’ve been using it to do my blogs come over here.
So went over to his laptop, but he’s dyslexic and he was saying that it really helps him because he’s dyslexic. And I was like, yeah, that’s a really good point because you can then just go in and edit it rather than him sitting there in front of a blank sort of word document trying to write something.
Yeah. So, um, yeah, I think it does have its places at all, but. I’m not overly worried that it’s out for all our jobs, cause I think what we can bring to the table. Um, yeah, we did get some really good comedy value out of it, like a, a, a few weeks ago cause when, when, uh, we first started using it, we, like, we’re testing it and we’re like, Hey, gimme, um, gimme an excuse for why I can’t make it to dinner with a friend.
Nishi: And then, and then just at the end we were like in 2000 words and it was just the way, it was just like recycling content. Recycling content. And it was like finding everything on the internet or why, why some couldn’t make it to dinner. It was, it was a good, but it, it, it does have to all come from somewhere already, so Is it?
Emma: And I think you do need to, particularly if you are pitching yourself as an expert in what you do, you need to show that you’ve got that expert knowledge. You don’t read something, but they’ve already read 10 times over in different places and it’s all been kind of. Well, but
Nishi: you know what? It’s also de partially devaluing the power of the written word, which means video is even even more relevant now.
I think. So actually, I like, we are really focusing on video content and I, but I think that’s, we, I prefer video content anyway, so it probably will help move in our favor. Um, and then maybe for, for your industry, it’ll be more about live events and,
Emma: Um, yeah, I think there, there’s definitely obviously still room for the written word.
And, um, yeah, I just think you can’t tell stories in the same way without it, I think you, you need it. Um, I think language is a very powerful thing, and even things like SEO and stuff, um, you know, you, you still need to get your keywords in there and stuff like that, don’t you? Yeah. Um. Yeah, I, I do think what we are doing is still hugely relevant.
We just need to move with the times and not get left behind. And I think that’s what a lot of newspapers are finding as well. You know, print is dwindling, but it’s how else can they get local news out to people or national news out to people. And again, they’re embracing video, aren’t they? But then they are still writing articles as well.
So I think it’s getting that mix right.
Nishi: Well, yeah, absolutely. That’s definitely food for thought. Yeah. So I, I, I guess we’re, we’re coming to the end of the podcast really. Um, it’s been amazing having you on here. I re really like the, the sort of final question I just wanted to ask you is, well actually there was two, two questions I really wanted to ask you, um, which I haven’t covered yet.
So like, is there a time where you kind of felt like giving up when you were running a business?
Emma: Um, yeah, I think there is, if I’m honest, not so much. It’s a weird one, isn’t it? Where you feel like you’ve had enough, is that the same as wanting to give it up? I think there’s been times where I’ve worked so hard that I’ve burnt myself out.
Okay. Where you think, I don’t think I can do anymore. I physically cannot think, I can’t string a sentence together. Um, where really all you need is a bit of a break. And then there has been like the, the tough times, I mean, we sort of touched on Covid, but one thing I didn’t say is that whilst trying to sort of generate enough business to keep us all in work, I was homeschooling two kids as well.
So that was so tough and, um, yeah, I, I really struggled mentally with that. I’ll be honest, I think not having that. Cultural thing of being in the office, just being at home all the time. There were some days where I wouldn’t get dressed. I’d get up, I’d, um, set the kids off with something to do. I’d set like the people I work with off with stuff to do.
Yeah. I’d be having Zoom calls and meetings, phone calls, um, trying to make sure that all the work was still coming in and getting turned around. Um, and that, yeah, there were people saying to me, or, you know, I guess you can furlough people. I’m like, but I’ve got less time than I had before, so I need the guys to help me get the work done.
Um, so yeah, it felt like trying to get that balance right between, at one point it was, I’ll do homeschool during the day and then I’ll do my work at night, and then realizing that you can’t function for months doing that. Um, we won a good contract with, um, the HS two. Network. And we, I was doing some work on that, and then I got to a point where I had to say to them, I can’t do anymore.
I literally do not have enough hours in the day. And, um, I’d done a little bit for them, but I had to, they just announced that we were going into another lockdown. I thought the kids were gonna go back to school after Christmas, and it was the January. And they said, we’re going into another lockdown.
The schools aren’t opening up. And I, I just cried and I was like, I’m gonna have to turn this work down because I have not got any time to fit it in. And then, I did find all of that really hard. And there were times there where again, you’ve seen people that have been furloughed. I got chatting to, um, another parent and he was like, oh, you know, the weather’s been beautiful, been going for walks every day.
I’ve been playing out in the garden with the kids and I felt like I was just shutting mind in a room going, mom’s got a zoom call, or I make a joke of it now, but I’d be like, right PE time, go on the trampoline. And it was just, um, yeah, trying to make sure that they were staying on top of all their schoolwork and.
That, um, Katie and Catherine had enough work to do and that I was getting all my work done, but then I was still growing the business, keeping the pipeline going. And I guess as well, clients needed us more. It wasn’t a case of we kind of have now where we’ll have like a monthly check-in meeting with all of them.
You know, some of them be like their situation was changing sort of daily or weekly, depending on what was happening in the news. You know, the ones in retail, the shops open the shop, shut the shops open, you know what I mean? And it was, um, okay, we need to change our messaging or we need to change what we’re working on.
Um, can you stop doing this and do this instead? So we were constantly changing plans and, and that was really hard as well. So yeah, I think Covid was probably a, a big challenge, not just for the business, but for me personally. But then when you look at the financials, I think it was our actual, our best year, but I think it was just that hyper focus.
I’ve got to make this work. But, um, almost at the expense of myself.
Nishi: It was tough. Yeah, it’s quite inspiring though. Um, yeah, it can’t, it can’t have been easy. I mean, we, we only had one small kid, so it was probably a lot easier to manage and, and that she was only like one year old at, at one years old at the time and we had family helping. But yeah, I can, I can’t imagine how tough that would’ve been.
Emma: Yeah. Like we had no outside help, um, at all. And then my husband was still working. He had to go in every day.
Nishi: Sorry. I actually, no, I don’t think our family was helping at that point, cause we weren’t allowed to see them. Um, no apologies. Um, no, it was just us, but there was two of us versus a one year old. It was, it was manageable. Um, but, and then this sort of the final question I really wanted to ask you. Um, it’s, that’s an amazing story and, um, I, I think, I think you’ll, you’ll be really inspiring to a lot of business owners watching this, especially, um, young mothers who just. Come back and, and want to, want to get that flexibility and wanna do something they’re passionate about and help other people.
I, I think the last question I just wanted to ask you was those people I just described, what advice would you give them when they’re starting up?
Emma: Um, one thing I really found personally and, um, I think not enough emphasis is put on your mindset, your emotions, and how much they come into play when you’re running a business.
And I think you almost need to get to know yourself a little bit because, um, I think if you’re starting a business, you go into it thinking I’m good at X, and then you quickly have to learn how to do other things. So you need to learn how, say if you’re very good at pr, for example, you then need to learn how to be a salesperson, how to do your own accounts well, um, invoicing and that sort of thing.
Um, you need to wear so many hats. Um, But then you will have days where you do get the imposter syndrome or you feel like, oh, I can’t do anymore. Um, that kind of, I think you need to build on things like resilience or even just be prepared that it is gonna be tough and you need to find this reserve within you somehow.
And what we were talking before about, um, how you react to different situations as well. I think I’ve just been really surprised throughout my whole journey. Um, just how much your mindset and emotions can affect your decision making, can affect the service that you are delivering to people. I think. Yeah, it can’t be minimized really.
It’s something you do have to take into account is, um, yeah, get to know yourself, trust your gut a lot as well. I mean, people said that to me when I first started, but I think, um, yeah, sometimes you do think, yeah, I am feeling this, but if I just do this and then it all comes full seven up, I should listen to my gut.
So, um, Yeah, I’m not quite sure how to wrap that up in a nice little sound bite, but I think, um, mindset is huge and to just kind of be aware of it and work on it and I think it, it can, it can work in your favour. It can drive you, um, you know,
Nishi: what do you, um, I guess it’s an extra question, but, um, what, what do you, do you read anything or do, do you have any like, um, resources that you go to, um, when you want that inspiration?
Emma: I guess I do listen to a lot of audio books.
Nishi: Um, do, do you have a favourite?
Um, oh, no, not really. I think, um, I’ve listened to the same sort of business books that most people listen to. Um, but yeah, I think things like the Stephen Bartlett podcast is really good.
And also we did a lot of, um, mindset work with, um, a training company. This was during Covid. Okay. And I think it was partly for me, but then also I was a bit worried. I thought, if I’m feeling like this, how are the girls gonna be feeling? cause they had kids as well. I thought they’ll be doing the home-schooling thing, they’ll be trying to get their work done.
So I wanted to kind of provide a resource and, and we had external coaches come in and they did a series of online session for us on, um, things like Resilience, confidence, um, assertiveness and saying no, um, and things like that. And it, it was all provided by N LP trained people. And I think that that was really, really valuable and you can apply the N L P principles to a lot of what you do. Um, so yeah, I think that, um, I found those sort of resources valuable.
Okay. That that’s amazing. Yeah. Well, Emma, thank you so much for joining us on this.
Emma: Um, thank you for having me. Yeah, I’ve, I’ve really enjoyed it.
Nishi: And, um, yeah, so everyone, you’ve been listening to the Unrelenting Drive podcast and, um, keep an eye out for many more episodes coming up, and don’t forget to get in touch.
All right, thanks.