Today we welcome Alex Beardsley, owner of Talk Direct Marketing. Alex’s company is 18 Months old and is a marketing management and support service for small to medium sized businesses, that don’t need a full time marketing manager or in-house marketing department.
What drove you to start your own business? What was the turning point?
I was 5 ½ months pregnant and coming to the end of an 18 month secondment and I had taken the business as far as I could within the 18 months I worked there. Although the business offered me a permanent position, I knew that it would never be challenging enough for me and so I decided to go it alone.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
I admire all business owners individually whether they be multi-millionaires like Richard Branson or the lady who owns the Knitting Shop in my local village. It takes a lot to start your own business and I think anyone that has had a go at it and is continuously running a successful business should be admired.
With regards to celebrity entrepreneurs or those who are so successful they are extremely well known, I would have to say that Richard Branson is very admirable, and that is because of his approach to capitalising on opportunities and not being afraid to take risks. I would like to think that I have those qualities, and who knows one day I may just be as successful as Richard…One can dream can’t they?
What are your goals for your business?
The biggest aim for Talk Direct Marketing is to make professional marketing advice and support accessible to even the smallest business…I want to have a number of offsite marketing teams working to support and manage the marketing activities of small businesses around the UK.
Within the next 12 months I would like to have a Marketing Executive working alongside me to support myself and my clients, but also to have the opportunity to shine and learn marketing in the real world.
The word franchise is often bandied around in my head – in relation to creating a business model that I can sell to franchisees…that has to be one of my BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).
What would you do differently next time around?
Nothing! Everything I have done has enabled me to learn and develop and without making the minor mistakes along the way I am sure my business would not be as successful as it is today.
What difficulties and challenges have you had to overcome and how did you keep going?
Post natal depression was one of the biggest challenges that I have had to face whilst setting up my business. The usually confident and motivated individual that I am, became scared and unsure and this was a particularly difficult time for me, especially as I had my clients and business to keep going.
The ultimate professional in me made sure that I never let anyone down, but without the fantastic support of family, friends and my wonderful doctor it could have been a disaster!
What legacy would you like your business to leave to the world and your family/friends?
I would like Talk Direct Marketing to be recognised as the business that made marketing accessible to even the smallest business. Marketing is a subject that is often unknown and misinterpreted. Believe me, after 10 years of my harping on about it, business owners will start to take note!
What support did you seek out and what difference has that made to your business?
I was fortunate enough to qualify for support through The Graduate Entrepreneurship Project. In particular, a project called ‘Think Business’ which is funded and supported by the University of Bradford. Through this I got access to legal and financial mentors. I was submitted for awards and got local exposure, which is exactly what any start-up business needs. I had the support of someone if I was ever in doubt, unsure, or just wobbling in general. When you start a business you need someone impartial to turn to, if only to talk things through. My support from ‘Think Business’ was invaluable to me and my business.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
I have a 20 year plan that is constantly changing dependant on my mood! But more seriously, I plan 3 months in advance, in relation to what I am doing and also for my clients. Planning is a big part of what I do…I have to be on the ball.
What has been one big success that you have achieved in your business?
Successfully having supported one of my clients for a whole year and receiving the feedback that I have made a 21% increase in their bottom line in comparison to last year….That makes it all worth it! And also coming second place in The Graduate Entrepreneurship Business Plan Awards…it felt good to know that experts recognised what was initially my idea for a business, was actually a feasible idea which had longevity!
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business?
Remember that it is YOUR business, so no matter what anyone else says…YOU have the final decision!
What are your top 3 tips for someone who would like to start a business now?
- If you are scared of failure then you are more likely to succeed, so don’t let that put you off
- Get advice…from everywhere and anywhere! People are always happy to discuss things with you – you just have to ask.
- Remember everyone is the same, regardless of their position. If the worst thing someone can say to you is no…what do you have to lose?
What are 3 books, websites or resources that you would recommend to other business owners?
www.talkdirectmarketing.co.uk – mine, Obviously! But joking apart, there are some good blog posts here for people who are setting up their own business.
www.startupdonut.co.uk/ Invaluable advice for all business start ups – Read it like the bible.
www.linkedin.com – If as a business start-up you are not on linked in, then you are seriously missing out on opportunities to network, do it and do it daily!
How can people connect with you on social media?
Web address: www.talkdirectmarketing.co.uk