Welcome to another Saturday Business Chat, this time with Sharon Hawkins of Bee Spotted. Sharon found out about this interview series via Twitter – appropriately, as one of the services she offers helps businesses get to grips with social media! Bee Spotted is a one-stop-shop that aims to cover the marketing needs of businesses large and small, so they help put together marketing materials for companies, then provide the print and online facilities necessary to get those materials out there to their clients’ potential customers. They are based in Essex and offer friendly and jargon-free services to their clients.
Sharon’s committed to maintaining her work-life balance, with a young family as well as a relatively young business, and she’s another person who’s spotted (!) the need to have firm terms and conditions in place from the outset – this is so important that I think I’ll have to write a blog post about it myself, soon! Sharon’s also got something interesting to say about taking time out from the daily routine of your business to just THINK.
Let’s hear about Sharon’s escape from the M25 and into her own business …
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called Bee Spotted. It was officially launched on 1st July 2011.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
After I gave birth to my daughter I realised I didn’t want to commute every day on the dreaded M25. A friend contacted me to do some designs for her business and a website which I agreed to, and I felt such a sense of satisfaction that a hobby turned into my business.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I had completed my degree and Masters in Marketing and E-Business and all my career involved developing brands and developing websites so it was a natural thing to go into.
Had you run your own business before?
I worked as a freelance from April 2007 until Bee Spotted was launched.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I launched as full-time but with a 5 year old daughter it is important to me to ensure I maintain a good work-life balance so I do work hours around the school run and family time.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
It sounds cynical, but always get an agreement/contract in place with clients from the start so there is no room for misunderstandings especially when some clients try it on and try to not pay or pay late. Unfortunately there are some people like that out there.
Also don’t sell yourself short. You may think you should do everything for your client but stick to agreed timeframes and payments. If the job gets bigger along the way, don’t be shy to ask for more. It’s your time and knowledge being used.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I’m proud of where I am at, so I don’t think I would have done anything differently. Looking forward, though, I am glad that I used to sell myself short, as it gave me invaluable lessons to be learned and made me and my business stronger.
What are you glad you did?
I’m glad I took time out earlier this year from freelancing to putting my thoughts from experience and knowledge gained from others into setting up Bee Spotted. Each month we are growing, purely down to referrals, so it seems we are doing something right!
What’s your top business tip?
Give yourself time to consider what you want your business to achieve. Take time out to review it whilst you are going along. Don’t be afraid to seek advice.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I’ve definitely grown as a person, with more confidence, and the business has diversified, giving clients a high quality and affordable service from my team.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
We will achieve greater brand awareness and with our projections of more projects being commissioned, hopefully we can expand as a team.
Again, learning from your actions and – yes – mistakes, is so important and it’s sometimes the only way you can really achieve your, and your company’s potential. Remember, no one’s perfect from the outset!