This interview series features inspiring female entrepreneurs who have launched and run successful businesses. Through our peers’ experiences, we can learn practical lessons and insights to empower us on our entrepreneurial paths. Crucially, storytelling de-risks entrepreneurship so we believe it is an essential pillar in closing the opportunity gap for female founders.
Firstly, tell us a bit about you.
We’re Emma and Amy, co-founders of Quick Fox Labs. We first met two years ago and discovered we both love digital marketing, seriously. Some people might think that’s odd, but we believe digital, done right, is a powerful tool for human connection. It’s a way to build relationships, nurture shared ideas and build businesses.
Tell us about Quick Fox Labs, how did you come up with the idea?
Quick Fox Labs is a digital marketing partner that helps businesses grow through smart digital marketing.
We have a combined experience of nearly 15 years in digital marketing on the client side, and we were continually frustrated with the partners we had to work with. They never shared our view of our return on investment and always seemed to talk in riddles.
So we decided to start our own new kind of digital marketing company. The central philosophy of Quick Fox Labs is that we work to equip clients with the digital marketing knowledge they need in-house. We’re always clear and open about the service our clients receive, the strategic counsel we provide, and what the real results are.
What was the moment that everything changed for you? Describe that moment when you decided to fully commit to your idea and the first few steps you took to make it possible.
To be honest, our moment to go for it was less of a choice and more of a necessity. We had already decided to start the business and had an idealised notion of a slow, comfortable start that would be timed perfectly with the roles we held at the time. But it became clear very quickly that at some point we just have to jump. Our advice to other entrepreneurs would be as hard as you plan it to all start perfectly, those plans will change two weeks in. So you’ve just got to jump in. We had a small safety net (£5k of our savings) but we have never had to dip into it.
What were the initial challenges you came up against and how did you overcome them?
The best thing about having a partner to work with is that we never get stressed about the same things. It means that at least one of us always views whatever challenge we’re faced with in a calm and controlled manner! Our strengths complement each other really well.
The first big challenge we encountered was deciding to turn down a client, which sounds crazy when you’re in the first three months, but it just wasn’t the right fit for us. It was important to us that stayed true to why we had started the business. It was hard at the time, but ultimately it was 100% the right decision as it made space for lots more wonderful clients who we love working with!
What was the first win that made you feel you were onto something?
When you really believe in what you do, that feeling comes quite naturally. But there’s something really special about that feeling when people start recommending you. It confirms you’re doing a good job and that you’ve come up with a solution that people really need.
It sounds basic, but it validates your business and suddenly and those niggling doubts that creep in disappear. You can’t buy or fake recommendations so they’re incredibly valuable.
How did you fund the setup of your business? Can you share some insights on the process?
It was really simple, we just saved some money. We knew we were going to step out on our own from the security of salaried, PAYE roles, so we agreed the minimal amount we needed to live on and just saved. Neither of us had much in the way of other financial commitments but we wanted that essential safety net. We haven’t dipped into it yet but that fund is also available for our growth plan.
What has been your best investment?
In ourselves. When you’re a service business what you’re selling is yourself. Investing in keeping up our knowledge, new developments and learning new skills has been vital. And it doesn’t have to be £1000s on a huge course – it can be an F&F workshop, or a £10.99 book that just keeps you growing and learning.
Have you made any mistakes or faux pas? If so, can you share with us?
We are constantly making small faux pas and learning everyday. In terms of a big one I would say overspending on the website. Being digital marketers and perfectionists we knew what was possible and wanted it all.
Truth is, your business will change and grow so get the minimal viable product out there and work on it as you go.
What’s your experience of being a women in the start-up ecosystem and what in your mind needs to change?
Good so far, but I believe this is largely due to the businesses we have chosen to work with and the connections we have curated who are focussed on collaboration rather than competition.
Coming back to the story earlier about turning down business, this was a well paid opportunity, but due to the style of the business and the selling above all cost culture it wasn’t right for us.
I believe being women in a startup gives us a unique opportunity to use our emotional intelligence as an asset to get ahead and reframe this culture of ‘success at all costs’ and ‘money above all else’.
Finally, I think we both aren’t afraid to call out ‘micro-agression’ when we experience it. For example, a man we were working with commented on our ‘typical matching pink laptops’ and we just, really calmly and politely, pointed out he would never make the same comment ‘typical matching blue laptops’ about men. It turned into a really productive conversation and he totally ‘checked’ himself.
What’s been the greatest lesson you’ve learnt since starting your own business?
For both of us, patience. You don’t need to have everything ready all at once. Everyone has a vision for their business, but it might not look like that from day one.
Have you had any role models or mentors along the way?
Amy: Caroline Diamond from Diamond Clarity, totally changed my life. She was the reason all this started and having her support and access to her business and marketing experience was extremely valuable.
Emma: This sounds cliché, but my mum. She didn’t start her career until I was grown and now she’s a badass business woman, who is the breadwinner of the household. The support and advice from her has been incredible.
With the future in mind, where would you see yourselves in five years time?
Lots of people say goals and targets are key to success but I think we are just enjoying the ride. We started our business to build a certain type of life for ourselves, so we have aims which are more in line with our life goals and ensuring the business works with that. Ultimately if we have a roster of clients we love that are doing good things in the world, and are helping others carve their career and succeed, then I think we will feel satisfied.
Can you tell us one of your goals for 2020?
Be able to diversify our offering to make digital marketing accessible to all, regardless of budget. People have lots of brilliant ideas and it’s the lack of knowledge of how to take them to market that holds them back. We’re particularly excited about our ideas for free training products.
What can our readers do to support your business?
Get in touch! We’ve a whole suite of digital marketing services to suit businesses at every stage of development.
You can find us at: www.quickfoxlabs.com
What books, podcasts or resources would you recommend?
Skimm’d from the Couch: https://www.theskimm.com/live-smarter/skimmd-from-the-couch – It’s a podcast from an American company founded by two women, who each week sit down with a successful female business woman to talk the highs, lows and learnings from their career. Inspirational, and I often learn things for the business.
Radical Candor: https://www.radicalcandor.com/the-book/ (I didn’t want to post an Amazon link – if you can support your local bookshop please do!) This is a fantastic book that we recommend to EVERYONE in business. It’s about building a culture of feedback and teamwork on the philosophy of ‘Caring Personally while Challenging Directly’.
What advice would you give anyone about to start a business?
Do it. Don’t let your fear rule your life.
That might sound a bit too ‘motivational coach’ so in more practical terms:
- We’d advise people to save some money or get some funding. Remember you can’t always choose the perfect moment to launch a business so being prepared is important – it can take a few months before you can start paying yourself.
- Test your idea on your peer group and connections and ask for advice – there is no shame and a lot of power in asking for help so do it. You’ll be surprised at the different ways some of your friends can help you (we’ve definitely learnt new things about people we’ve known for years!)
- Be prepared to pivot and quickly. Accept that the plan you launch with probably won’t be the plan and package you stick with.
- Finally, build your community of fellow founders and freelancers and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.
Want to learn more?
We will be running a digital marketing masterclass with Found & Flourish on the 20th February at Huckletree Shoreditch where following a short introduction from us, you will be coached through step by step tasks and worksheets on how to work out the right digital marketing strategy and channels for your business and create your first campaign to start attracting new clients.
You will learn:
Part 1: How to plan a campaign and set KPIs
- An overview of digital marketing and sales funnels
- The different elements of a digital marketing funnel and 5 x free templates
- How to select the right channel for your business from Facebook, Instagram, and Google advertising; project the return on investment; and use our free ROI calculator
Part 2: How to design the copy and creative
- How to build a persona and validate your audience and channel selection with a free persona workbook
- How to craft the perfect ad copy to drive results with a free messaging template
- Some top tips on how to select and perfect creative
Part 3: How to build your first marketing funnel
- How to build your first advert and be ready to set it live on on your chosen channels
- How to set up retargeting
- How to track performance and some top tips on troubleshooting a campaign.
Looking forward to seeing some of you there!
About the Author
Leah Williams is the Blog Editor for Found & Flourish, working with Founder Lara Sheldrake to ensure every piece of published content is empowering, inspiring and well presented, just like the women we work with.
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