Today’s story is from Saija Mahon who owns Mahon Digital Marketing (Ltd in UK and Finland.) Operating since June 2010, Saija’s company plan, build and execute complex online marketing strategies for businesses of all sizes, who want to succeed online (and dovetail their online marketing activities with their offline sales).
What drove you to start your own business? What was the turning point?
I used to work for a very busy London media agency prior to starting my own business in 2010. I had a great passion for the work, however when I found myself being pregnant – I realised that the hectic, long days at the office would not suit my upcoming family life. Without some kind of solution, I would not be able to balance my professional life and my family’s needs in order for everyone to be happy, including myself. Therefore I made the decision to jump out of the so-called rat race when I was on my maternity leave, and never looked back. My own company, Mahon Digital was born.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
My dad. He’s also an entrepreneur and has had his own successful building business since I can remember. He’s had his ups and downs in the business, but has always been strong and has come out a winner. I admire his passion, his work ethic and his power to always turn things round to a positive. He’s at retirement age right now, however he’s far from slowing down! He’s always there for me for advice and guidance and I could not have a better source of inspiration to feed from. I want him to be proud of me as I take the route he did in the business world.
What are your goals for your business?
To grow the business to global measures! I started with the UK in 2010 and as it all seemed to go well, I launched our newest branch in Finland, in my home country. Next stop France I think! I wish to grow Mahon Digital in size, but I also wish to employ more people and provide my family and Mahon Digital’s employee’s families with a stable income and contribute to their lives in a positive way.
What would you do differently next time around?
In the UK I started small, as I only started as a ‘one woman band’, and the UK has been growing more or less organically ever since. When I launched our newest branch in Finland, I decided to go in big. I had my team ready; office ready, accountant ready, PR was done before the launch event and so on – this is the way forward. Think Big. Go in Big.
What difficulties and challenges have you had to overcome and how did you keep going?
At times it’s been hard to try to balance the work requirements with family requirements as the company has grown. However I’ve kept true to my original reasons to start a business and have done my all to ensure family life is not compromised. Sometimes it’s meant that I’ve had my quality time with my child and my husband in the evening, and once they’ve gone to bed – I work with the midnight light on. However I know this will and has paid off. I know the more I put in, the more I get out, even if sometimes it gets a bit crazy – I will sleep well when I’m retired one day!
What legacy would you like your business to leave to the world and your family/friends?
My wish is that my business can help other businesses succeed and grow. I also want us to have contributed positively to other people’s lives via employment and of course, my big aim is to provide financial security to my family through Mahon Digital. I also employ many members of my family and friends in Mahon Digital (UK and Finland) and it’s always been my dream to be able to support my family and friends this way. It really makes me feel proud and I hope I will be remembered for that when it’s my time to go.
What support did you seek out and what difference has that made to your business?
I didn’t. I did it all on my own and yes, boy I worked hard for it! Mahon Digital has never had any loans or funding, we’ve grown organically. We still do not have any loans, despite launching in other countries. I did my accounting on my own when I started (later found out I was rubbish at it, so hired an accountant!!) I did the pitching, the meetings, the planning and the actual executing of the work. And yes, you would have seen me with my 4 month old baby in the boardroom, making a presentation for a potential client! Believe it or not, this happened quite a lot – I’m surprised I didn’t grow another pair of hands.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
I have a 5 year plan, although generally I just go for it! I’ve never planned too much or never thought about the risks too much – I just went for it. My family keeps me motivated and my excel skills keep me and the company on track!! I love excel sheets. Could not live without them. Sad, but true.
What has been one big success that you have achieved in your business?
Launching Mahon Digital Finland and bagging a huge client in the process. Being nominated for an Award this year (Mumpreneur, didn’t win though… maybe next year!). Mahon Digital UK has also won a couple of big clients this year, so there has been lots of big successes, in my mind anyhow. Finding a great team to support me has been amazing! I have some gems in my team and I am so happy that I’ve found them.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business?
‘Just soldier on’
This was a phrase I’d never heard before. It’s something a client said to me one grey and rainy day when my spirits were a bit down. This phrase has lingered in my mind since then and whenever I have a ‘moment’ – I think of it and it just gives me so much motivation and drive, don’t ask me why, it just does. I will never let anything get me or my business down and I’ll soldier on if I have to, and make it through to the sunny side again!
What are your top 3 tips for someone who would like to start a business now?
1. If you want it – go for it! Don’t think too long or too much, just do it.
2. OK, perhaps plan a bit (more than I did!) and make sure you are ready for the time investment your own company will require. Lots of late nights, but all worth it!
3. Enjoy it! Enjoy the flexibility, be proud of yourself, don’t stress – Enjoy the little things that you can do when you are the boss and not tied to an office desk 9-5. And don’t feel guilty doing so, You are the boss.
What are 3 books, websites or resources that you would recommend to other business owners?
1. Small business accounting (I did try to read it… but then I hired an accountant, good-looking book though!)
2. FSB – Federation of small businesses – http://www.fsb.org.uk/
3. Your local business community, perhaps a rotary club or a small business organisation, for me it is http://www.hertsbusinessawards.co.uk/ and they organize a lot of networking events and awards and so forth, to get you connected and inspired!
How can people connect with you on social media?
We have a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/MahonDigital
We also have a Twitter page: http://twitter.com/mahondigital
And a LinkedIn page: http://www.linkedin.com/company/2584231?trk=tyah