This week on my parents in business series I’m delighted to be featuring Nikki who has created her own business; Hesford Media. This is a marketing agency with a difference, one that drives real results for clients and focuses on what the client is actually looking for.
Ever since finishing university Nikki has been running her own businesses, she is exceptionally driven, receiving £250k from Dragon’s Den and running her own social media masterclasses. So if you’re thinking about doing the same then you need to read Nikki’s story below and continue to learn marketing as you go. It’s what you need to help your business grow!
Tell me a little bit about you, your background and Hesford Media?
In 2008 as an undergrad at uni, I stumbled across an unmet demand for clothing and lingerie for bigger busted women. That was my first business – and it took me from my kitchen table, to Dragons Den, receiving £250k of investment and employing a dozen staff. Around 60% of revenue was E-commerce and thus, over a period of 7 years I learned the craft of digital marketing and how to grow huge social media audiences, and turn that following into revenue.
As the company grew, more of my time was spent managing the factory, staff and high street accounts and we began to hire agencies for PR and Marketing – but I was frustrated by their lack of commercial acumen. They would give me reports containing metrics and stats that bore no relevance to the number of sales coming in, and they seldom seemed to understand that my selling price was not my profit margin.
I exited this business in 2014 following the birth of my youngest son. I had always intended to go straight back to work when I had a baby, but this prerogative changed in 2013 when my baby son passed away two hours after birth. When Oscar was born in 2014 I knew I did not want to put him into daycare and the business was sold. It was here that my marketing agency journey began.
What were your drivers and motivations for setting up the business?
Running a factory and a fashion brand had been incredible – but the hours were long, there was a lot of travel involved visiting buyers in London on a regular basis. It was not a role where I could work from home easily, or take a step back and start a little later or finish a little earlier. It was full on. It was stressful. The parts of it that I had loved (branding, marketing, creating content, getting sales to the website) had been replaced with tasks I despised, inventory control, quality control, project management.
Marketing and PR was what I had loved, and had a talent for, and I knew most agencies were not doing it well. Charging a lot of money with little transparency or accountability. I wanted to create a marketing agency that delivered real, measurable return on investment – not a woolly end of month report that is as clear as mud what has actually been achieved. So that is what I did!
How do you balance the business around family and childcare?
My eldest son is now 15 and my youngest is 4, and so long as I have a laptop and a reliable internet connection I can work from anywhere. Oscar is not yet in school, and so we often jump on a flight last minute to Egypt and take a week’s holiday in the sun. My work carries on as normal – my staff stay in the office, and my phone has been set up to ring without the international ring tone when I’m abroad. Clients have no idea I’m away!
When I am home I finish at 3.30pm on a Monday and Friday and this is when I pick my son up from Pre-School – that’s when we go to the park, do the weekly shop, or go and see my Nan!
Since setting up the business what’s been your biggest success to date?
We run various digital marketing events – until recently, these were 2-3 hour Masterclass events around Facebook Ads and social media, with a fairly low entry price point. But in December I planned my very first, higher ticket value, full day event! I was nervous as I needed a minimum of ten ticket sales to meet the venue minimum. To my amazement all fifteen seats sold out within six hours and I had to go back and get a bigger rom to hold 25, which also sold out too.
It was the first time I realised that people trusted my authority and I was building a good profile locally as someone who really knew Social Media and Facebook Advertising!
What are your top tips for parents who are thinking about setting up their own business?
Learn marketing! At the start you cannot afford to outsource it to an agency. You are time rich/cash poor and you need people to know who you are and what you do. Many people rely on social media alone, but it takes months or years to grow a following to a size where it provide enough enquiries to make a good living.
And once you know how to do marketing, you can market anything. Any business, any service, any product.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Mums in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: LioBites, Wholey Moly, and Octopus’s Garden Seaweed