Name: Jacqueline Brewster
Business name: Chatterbox Social Media
Facebook page/group: www.facebook.com/chatterboxsocialmedia
Twitter name: www.twitter.com/jacqschatterbox
When did you start your business and why?
Before becoming self-employed in 2005, I worked in Brand and Product Management roles for 10 years for large FMCG organisations. Since 2005, I have launched and managed a number of businesses spanning domestic cleaning, video streaming and energising jewellery. In 2008, I set up and launched Virtual Assistant Online which provides virtual office support services to SME’s and Sole Traders. Services include, PA, secretarial, office admin and marketing support. It was during the Summer of 2010 that I really became aware of Social Media and its increasingly important role within business. More and more businesses were successfully integrating Social Media into their marketing mix in order to engage with and grow their client base.
This was (and still is) a revolutionary new way of marketing and it became evident that Social Media wasn’t going to be just another temporary fad for techno crazy teenagers. I enrolled on a professional training course in the Autumn of 2010 and immersed myself in this new media. After completing the training, I successfully launched Chatterbox Social Media in January 2011. Looking ahead now, the opportunity is clear, businesses cannot afford to get left behind with Social Media and the massive opportunity it presents to them.
It would be like saying 20 years ago when the Internet launched, “ The world wide what? Nagh, that will never take off”!
What gives your business the edge?
A combination of factors. I have a strong corporate background in marketing. I have over 8 years of experience in setting up and running my own businesses – some have been successful turning over tens of thousands of pound a year and some have failed. I understand how businesses operate from the inside out and I know what it takes to make a business succeed. I use all of this operational and commercial experience combined with my training in marketing and social media to deliver real value to my clients. I’m willing and more than happy to share everything that I’ve learned over the years so you won’t just get Social Media on a plate, you’ll get much, much more.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
Your successes AND your failures are completely, unequivocally, 100% your own.
And what is the worst?
Not being able to switch off. It’s wonderful to be immersed in growing and developing your own business but you have to learn to be really disciplined and set a time to ‘shut up shop’. It is important to have a healthy work/life balance, but when you’re responsible for every penny you earn, temptation to keep on working ‘that extra hour’ is often too hard to resist!
Describe a typical day running your day and balancing family life:
My alarm clock is my daughter and she usually goes off between 6.00 and 7.00. Either my husband or I bring her downstairs to have a cuddle and story in bed before the day starts. Then the battle begins! Co-ordinating showers, breakfast and who’s wearing what can be a challenge at the best of times but we aim to be at either nursery (15 minute drive away) or at Granny & Pappa’s house (40 minutes drive away) in time for me to start work at 09.30. My working day usually consists of starting with phone calls, then working on marketing & business development for the business. Next I tackle client project work, grab a little bit of lunch and I aim to wrap up my afternoon doing a little bit of my own admin between 3.00 and 4.00 – well, that’s the plan! The reality can often be very different. You have to be flexible and prepared for any number of events to knock you off course! I’m always at home in the kitchen for 4.30/5.00 when preparation for dinner begins; with the aid of CBeebies in the background to smooth the way. My husband usually gets home about 5.30 and we all sit down for dinner at 6.00 as we consider this really important family time for us to connect and share the highlights of our day. Bedtime is at 7.00pm for my daughter (preceded with stories and songs) and then I usually sit down to start my night shift which can involve doing my own Social Media for Chatterbox, a final sift through emails and planning for the next day. I aim to be in bed for no later than 10.30 as I like to read a chapter of a book before finally drifting off.
How do you envisage your business changing over the next 5 yrs?
This year my focus will be to bring onboard a manageable number of clients to suite my available working hours. I have an associate based in Berkshire who is currently undertaking the same Social Media training programme as me so that when my daughter goes to pre-school early next year we can form a partnership to develop the business further in different regions of the UK. I envisage that Chatterbox will continue grow through both the natural acquisition of clients and the recruitment and training of additional Social Media account managers.
Do you have any advice for other women in or starting a business?
If you are thinking of starting a business – do your homework first, thoroughly research the market you want to enter. You have to identify that there is a definite demand for your product/service first. Be certain that you are offering something that is of real value to your customers – work out what is your USP (Unique Selling Point). Unique being the operative word here. Something that no-one else is doing or offering.
Next, DO a business plan and get someone else (preferably a professional) to look this over before you embark on trading. You can download a good business plan template from the Business Link website. Make sure your numbers stack up. It’s amazing how many new start ups have not got to grips with how to financially run a business and how to evaluate its performance. If you don’t know your numbers, you are destined to fail.
If you’re a start up or are already in business – get yourself a business mentor. My mantra is “if you want to be the best – learn from the best.” Consider it your number one priority to invest in yourself. My business mentor is Nigel Botterill. (Let me know if you would like an introduction). Your mentor doesn’t have to be this famous, it could be someone you already know who is successful and running their own business. Ask them if they would be willing to mentor you or you could speak to your Regional Development Agency – One North East, the Princes Trust (criteria will apply) or Business Link to ask them to help you find someone suitable. There is no quicker way to grow and develop your business.