It’s Female Founder Friday, and I couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to Stacey Kehoe. She’s the woman entrepreneur who founded Digital Marketing agency, Brandlective. Her fast growth business focuses on giving online visibility to brands that are bold, ooze credibility and want to get noticed. Assisting sometimes controversial CEO’s and brands has led to Stacey and her team to be nominated for series of awards in the Entrepreneurial sector gaining recognition for their creative and wacky approach to marketing. Stacey also founded The Vault, a podcast, magazine and membership website for startup businesses.
So, if you’re curious how an accidental entrepreneur taught herself the skills to build a successful media company that focuses on the unglamourous sales world… don’t miss our first British entrepreneur’s journey and advice below!
What inspired you to create your company?
I am an accidental entrepreneur. My friends try to tell me this isn’t true because I have a very entrepreneurial family so they assumed I was born to run a business. But that’s not true. I was made redundant three times during the economic crisis and was pushed outside my comfort zone to the point where I started in an entirely new industry. I used my passion for connecting with people in the world of sales and realized that businesses in this sector had really poor branding and did not market themselves well. I convinced my boss at the time to let me take on that part of the business. I had no idea what I was doing so I did online courses, read books and taught myself how to build a digital brand. I contacted management consulting professionals like Exos Advisors business consulting, to learn more about how they could help me grow my business and that really helped me too. I worked really hard to get where I am now, especially during the first couple of years.
Over two years, I did such a great job with it that I was approached by competitors who were asking ‘What are you guys doing with your brand? Who is managing your social media? How did you become so prominent on Google search?’. The sales industry has a negative image, people see it as aggressive, pushy and money-hungry. I was so fortunate that my boss had a huge life goal, which was to enhance the reputation of the sales industry as a whole and make it an attractive career prospect again. She is a big-picture thinking and thought beyond her immediate business. It was her that said that I should help those competitors to build positive, strong, exciting brands and join her mission to reposition the sales industry as an exciting industry to work in. So essentially, she gave me her blessing to begin my freelancing career.
Through word of mouth, my client portfolio grew and before I knew it, I was incorporating my first business, Brandlective Communications Ltd, a digital marketing agency in London. I now have over 100+ clients and have started a second investment business. As you can see, reputation is incredibly important and I’d recommend to anyone starting a business to look into using tools like RepCheckup, which allows you to monitor any reviews your company gets. These can make or break your business. If you’re in the commercial cleaning sector where competition is very high, tracking your reviews is absolutely key. Most cleaning companies these days are franchisees, much like McDonald’s. They would be working under a brand, Poppies for example, and would be signed to their franchising plan (https://poppies.co.uk/franchising/) in order to deliver an A-class service. But anyways, my inspiration for starting Brandlective Communications was very organic, I would love to say it was a big master plan that I had but it really has happened very naturally for me and I think that is important for aspiring business owners to know – not all journey of success are planned right from the beginning – the lesson I have taken from this is that when you see an opportunity – grab it with both hands and hold on for the ride.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
Myself. I know I’m not alone on this, but it was my own mindset.
What are you afraid of?
When I was first starting out, I had a fear of success. Receiving positive recognition was uncomfortable for me. I’ve realised that people often confuse this with a ‘fear of failure’, but it’s not the same thing. If you are scared of failing, you do everything in your power to ensure you succeed. The transition from freelancing to owning a business was a huge step and took me longer than it should have. I had to deal with some of my own insecurities. Like the fear of being judged by others. I was terrified that people wouldn’t take me seriously. As it turns out, most people think I’m courageous for starting a business and chasing my own ambitions.
Now that I have run a successful business for nearly seven years, the thing that I am most afraid of is not making a big enough impact. I combat this by trying to slow down and recognize the opportunities that I have created for my team, for my clients and more recently for the contributions my business now makes to charities all around the globe through our giving initiatives. Check out our global impact here!
I am currently writing a book. This has been something I have thought about for a few years. Finding the right publisher and knowing exactly what value I could offer has taken some time but I am working on a publishing date in late 2018. It will walk startup business owners through my 6-step marketing methodology which we call ‘The Gamechanger’. My podcast, The Vault, is also due to launch next month along-side our membership community which is exciting and I am also starting to think about training workshops for 2019.
What is a life or business hack that you recommend to help other female founders?
Connect with other business owners. People always say your ‘network is your net worth’ and it is true. It is human nature to evolve, morph and adapt to our environments. Create an environment that will have a positive impact on your evolution. If you surround yourself with those that are 1 or 2 steps ahead of you, your business will progress faster than you could have ever imagined.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
I like the lyrics from “Best Day of My Life,” by American Authors. It’s about making a conscious decision that today will be a good day (rather than allowing they day to control me – I can decide how I will react to today’s events).
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Adapt and leverage. Be willing AND ABLE to change and evolve with every new challenge that is thrown your way. If you’re wondering do I need to file a confirmation statement and don’t know. Look it up and keep on track. Don’t give up because you don’t know something. The reason some people succeed and most people fail is persistence – don’t give up. Every time it is hard, and a challenge is thrown your way be persistent and willing to adapt to trends, challenges, clients needs and whatever else happens. And leverage. Leverage every opportunity, say yes to collaborations, say yes to guest blogging and free speaking engagements – the more you get seen and known for your expertise the easier it is to leverage more significant business opportunities.