Welcome to Small Business Chat update time – get a cup of tea or coffee and curl up to read all about what Sarah Whitelock of Green Apple Communications is up to. We first met Sarah in June 2012 and had an update, including news of her PR Panic Pack, in July 2013. At that point, when asked about her plans for the future, she said, “The past 12 months have been very busy for me with a new business and moving house. During the next 12 months I want to develop my business relationships in East Anglia and do more to market my PR Panic Pack”. Sarah’s reached a good, mature stage with her business now (like me!) and is enjoying developing those relationships and adding in new features, as we’ll see …
Hello again, Sarah! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Actually, things are even better than I expected. Over the past year I have worked hard to get to know business owners in Suffolk and have been really pleased to have picked up a lot of work in the county. I do still travel to do media training but on the whole, my clients are local.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
As the year has gone on I have picked up quite a few regular clients. Although I am happy to work on a project basis, I do prefer more on-going contracts which allow for a marketing and PR plan to develop. Most of my clients have hired me for a set number of days a month, which suits them and me. I am particularly pleased to have picked up regular work for Jimmy’s Farm in Ipswich: it’s fun to do and having a high-profile client has been very helpful in attracting other business.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
When I first set up I was advised to buy a decent camera so that I could offer pictures as well as text. I held off because of the cost but bought one six months ago and it has been a real bonus. I did a lot of photography when I was younger and really enjoy using those skills again, it means I can routinely send photos with press notices and illustrate blogs and social media posts.
Any more hints and tips for people?
One thing I have discovered is that it really is much easier to do all the financial paperwork in good time. Two years ago I left all the details relating to my tax return until the last minute, worried about it for 12 months and then had a nightmare trying to sort it all out. This year I set aside the Easter Bank Holiday to sort out everything from the previous financial year and was the first to send everything to my accountant – making us both very happy!
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
I feel that I have reached a good place and would like things to remain much as they are. Inevitably some clients will move on but I feel confident that others will make use of my work. I feel proud of setting up a business from scratch and look forward to its future.
I can relate to the point on financials – I’ve just submitted my own tax return, although it’s a bit later than I usually do it! Far better than rushing it in January. I love how Sarah’s business has settled but continues to change – she sounds really happy and has found her niche and is developing deep and valuable relationships with her clients. The photography is a great idea and adds a bit of extra value to what she can offer; it’s always worth looking out for those things to add, even when your business has got more stable and settled!
Before I go, there’s just time for a quick update from Alison Mead of Silicon Bullet, who we last spoke to in September 2013. Aly reports that things are going along as normal, her business is also mature and settled, and there’s not so much to update, so she’s going to pause in the interview series for a year, and I’ll check in with her next year to see how things are going. Both of her businesses are still going strong: find the Silicon Bullet website and blog online and have a look at the Forever Living blog and Facebook page.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. If you’re wondering how to get to that mature level in your business, you might find my book on the topic interesting.