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  • Writer's pictureHelen Davies

What does it take to run a business?

How will you help #BreaktheBias in 2022?

Without doubt, as a woman, deciding to set up my own business - is the most empowering decision I’ve ever made.

Unfortunately, even in 2022, only 1 in 3 entrepreneurs in the UK is female – a gender gap equivalent to 1.1 million missing businesses.*

Friends of Citrus Web explain what it means to them to be a female entrepreneur in 2022
Helping to #BreaktheBias on International Women's Day 2022

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreaktheBias. Having run my own business for the past 12 years, this is an issue very close to my heart. I wanted to encourage others contemplating starting their own business to take that final step. What better way than to ask some friends what they love about working for themselves?

If this inspires someone to take the plunge and start on their new path, this blog will have done its job!

I believe I’m extremely lucky to have found and to be working with lots of lovely, supportive and inspirational people. They are all experts in their own field and have good hearts.

I asked each of my business friends featured below the same 3 questions:

1. What was it that made you decide to run your own business?

2. Is there something empowering that you would like to share?

3. How does owning your own business make you feel?

Click on the business owner’s link to read their answers. I found each of their answers inspiring in their own way:

Kyla Skinner, Founder, Copy Café, Small Business Copywriting Support & Director, Jarrah, Creative Communications Consultancy

What was it that made you decide to run your own business?

When I moved from London to Birmingham to be with my partner, I applied for available editorial jobs but nothing really appealed to me. I’d combined my business degree with postgraduate journalism training and started out in the contract publishing industry. So I started freelancing as a news and features writer to get some money while looking for the right role – and got the bug for running my own business. I even launched (and subsequently sold) my own monthly newspaper.

After a few years, I found a permanent job – to guarantee my monthly income and get a mortgage. It was while I was working as joint editor of a national marketing magazine that I discovered the world of copywriting. I started moonlighting for a local marketing agency (writing the programme listings for Sky’s monthly customer guides) and then promptly decided to strike out on my own when the publishing company I was working for suddenly announced it would be moving to Glasgow. I set myself up as a freelance copywriter in 2003 and haven’t looked back.

Today, I’m effectively running two businesses. I’m approaching the 19th anniversary of the launch of Jarrah, my copywriting consultancy business. Alongside that, I created my membership business Copy Café to provide ideas and support to help small business owners boost their copywriting confidence. Copy Café has just celebrated its 4th business birthday.

Is there something empowering that you would like to share?

I learned at a young age that what felt ‘right’ to me was to be myself. And I’ve tried to stay true to that principle no matter what’s going on around me, in the business world or otherwise.

There’s no point pretending to be something or someone you’re not – especially when you’re running a small business. People have always bought into people and their values. And that’s even more the case since the pandemic.

Being ‘human’ about the way you promote and provide your services is an increasingly important business skill. If you appreciate and embrace that concept, life as a small business owner feels far less complex – and people will love you for it.

How does owning your own business make you feel?

Running your own business is empowering in itself. Being a business owner makes me feel proud.

Deciding to do your own thing is a big decision to make. There are never any guarantees and the buck always stops with you. It can be thrilling, inspiring and exhilarating one day; challenging, daunting, overwhelming the next. But that makes life interesting, right? And your ability to navigate a safe path through that gives you an inherent strength that will serve you in many other positive ways.

Setting up and running a business requires an ever-evolving mix of courage, determination, resiliency, positivity and self-belief, plus the empathy to understand and relate to what your potential clients actually need your help with.

All that has to be underpinned by the professionalism that keep all the cogs and wheels moving – and sometimes multiple plates spinning! Because running a business isn’t always as simple or as straightforward as it might appear to those looking in from the outside. But it’s incredibly rewarding.

Bridget Mason, Director, Keskidee Marketing, Strategic Marketing Consultancy

What was it that made you decide to run your own business?

Running my own business wasn’t totally new to me, as I’d already run a successful photo library for over 15 years. This taught me a lot about supplier relationships, stock control, employing people, managing the accounts, marketing and more, but over time it became less enjoyable and more stressful.

Having made the decision to return to employment, I hadn’t really thought about going out on my own until one day a friend and business coach asked whether I would ever consider setting up as a marketing coach and consultant. She felt there was a big opportunity for my knowledge and experience to be shared with businesses struggling to get their marketing working effectively.

It was appealing, and as I was already considering making a move from where I was, I gave it serious thought. Then as often happens the decision was made for me as I was made redundant following the acquisition of the company by a competitor.

I went for interviews but at the back of my mind something was nagging that this was just the opportunity I needed to do what I enjoyed, when I wanted to and with people I really wanted to work with. It was the best decision I’ve ever made, despite a slow down during the Pandemic.

Is there something empowering that you would like to share?

One of the earliest “lightbulb” moments was after Helen and I held a joint marketing workshop. We spent many days preparing, each bringing our own skill sets into play. On the day, the training went smoothly, but more importantly they seemed really engaged and interested. It was at that point I thought “you know, this might just work!”

More recently, reading a case study from one of my customers I was both touched and proud to read that she felt the work we had done had not only made a difference to the company, but also to her personally.

How does owning your own business make you feel?

I love feeling that I’m making a difference; that the skills I’ve acquired over many years of working in marketing can help others to succeed, whether on an individual or business basis. It’s rewarding when a new process that we’ve worked hard to implement starts showing real results, or a campaign comes together on time and starts generating leads or webinar sign ups. Results make me happy and more so when we can really understand where they came from.

Overall, I love the vastly improved work/life balance that has come through doing something I love, being able to choose who I work with, and choosing when to do it.

Sami Harrison, Owner and Graphic Designer, SHDesign Malvern

1. What was it that made you decide to run your own business?

Schnapps and Juniper helping Sami to #BreaktheBias
Schnapps and Juniper helping Sami to #BreaktheBias

Since graduating University 10 years ago my main goal has always been to run my own graphic design business, I worked in-house for a few years while building my business on the side and found the projects were repetitive, rushed and didn't give me the chance to get creative - this spurred me on to take the leap and go fully self employed and I haven't looked back since. I really enjoy the freedom that running my own design studio gives me, I get to choose the type of projects I'd like to work on and every day is different. The fact I can walk my dogs whenever I need a creative break and drink tea all day is an added bonus!

2. Is there something empowering that you would like to share?

A proud moment for me was walking around Malvern's town centre a few years into starting my business and spotting my designs all around me; shop sign designs, businesses with logos I had created and shops who had print work designed. It's lovely to work with the local small business community and watch their businesses grow on and off line.

3. How does owning your own business make you feel?

It gives me a huge sense of achievement, it's quite challenging at times but that's what makes it so rewarding.

Helen Davies, Director, Citrus Web, Digital Agency

1. What was it that made you decide to run your own business?

The main reason for taking that leap of faith was choice.

I wanted to focus on things I enjoyed doing, work with people I liked and decide my own hours. My previous role had given me lots of experience in marketing, selling and training delivery, and I started to ask myself, why not do this for myself?

My first business venture was social media training. I love working with people and had some great feedback about my training style, which lead to Coldicott Freelance Training being born.

2. Is there something empowering that you would like to share?

Once I was approached by a charity membership organisation to talk about How to promote their charity lottery on social media and help lots of big-name charities come up with ideas for their social media campaigns. With over 70 delegates in the room, it was my turn to get up and talk. With the delegates having sat through some quite dry, graph filled talks, my creative – hopefully memorable - games went down a storm! I still remember feeling relieved and extremely proud of overcoming my public speaking fear and getting such a good response.

Now as Director and Web Designer of Citrus Web, I’ve been able to further focus on my strengths and what I enjoy doing most. Over time I’ve realised helping people and their businesses, being creative and solving marketing problems are the parts of my job that I really enjoy. These values coupled with my experience in digital marketing, have helped me to evolve and refocus what I do.

3. How does owning your own business make you feel?

Being my own boss makes me feel empowered, happy and energised. I put this down to being able to make my own decisions - that’s what’s empowering.

I’ve always been hard working, determined, focused and self-motivated. I think watching my dad run his own business when I grew up helped these qualities to develop.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t always easy, but among a million other benefits, it is extremely rewarding and satisfying.

What will you do to #BreaktheBias?

Take a minute to think about the people you work with every day.

  • Do you work with mainly men or women?

  • What about people in senior positions?

  • How about your LinkedIn network, is it more male or female?

Simply by starting the conversation, we can also start to break down gender inequality.

Do you know someone who might benefit from reading this blog? Why not share it across your wider business networks today. You might give the next entrepreneur the encouragement they were looking for!

* According to Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, HM Treasury 2019.


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