This story is about…
Female entrepreneur: Sarah Arrow
Company: Sark eMedia
She started her business accidently, after going through a tough time during the recession.
Age range: 30s
What motivated you to start your business?
Do you remember when the recession started? Well it started for us in 2007. I was on maternity leave with two young children and my husband had a fledgling transport company. When things start getting tough the industry that gets hit first is transport.
So I started blogging to help “rescue” his business, I had no intention of starting a business, I worked in the City of London in a terrific job, I had no dream to work for myself. However, the fates can be cruel and thrust you into a situation that you have no desire to be in.
By 2010 things had improved for the transport business, but I was in a role I didn’t want in a company that I hated, even if my husband owned it! I started my multi author blog, Birds on the Blog and started to work more with women and blogging.
By January 2011 I had several women approach me for mentoring and coaching when it came to blogging – they loved the results I helped others to get, and I thought why not? So there I was, an accidental publisher with an accidental business! It took me a while to realise that I had a business and not a hobby, but I love what each day brings.
Tell us about your business…
My company Sark eMedia is the publisher of of all my online real estate. It’s the glue that holds together all 5 of my multi author blog sites. It’s also a boutique social media marketing agency, specialising in small to medium social campaigns for businesses and other entrepreneurs. We’re expanding the blog coaching into content creation toolkits and more teaching events, so that we can make an even bigger impact.
What is a day in the life of you like?
A typical day starts with email. All my team email triage, we only check it three times a day – productivity is high in our office. Then we look at the stats for the UK clients that we manage and plan any adjustments. The next step is to call clients and let them know what’s happening and why. Jamie (my sales team) works really hard to educate potential new customers and I touch base with my associate editors to see what their plans are, and how we can take the sites forward and make them work better for the contributors.
The afternoon is taken up with blog coaching, this can be remotely using Skype or face to face in central London. Everything stops at 3pm for the school run.
When the kids go to bed at 7pm, it’s back to work. This time it’s calling our US clients and scheduling coaching sessions. In this time we also plan our products and their development stages.
What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?
Family have been the biggest challenge, I sometimes feel like I am the only woman in the world with an online business! My parents have little understanding of what I do, and that can be tough. Working from a home office or hot desking in the city makes no sense to them, and of course if I am working from home that means to some I am not working at all!
How did you overcome these challenges?
Setting boundaries has helped. I close the office between 3 and 7pm everyday to spend quality time with my daughters and they are great fun to be around. I have to admit giving up trying to explain what I do. Now that I have several guides published and my first traditionally published book (released in the autumn 2012) means it’s easier for family members to know what I do.
What have you found to be the most effective way to get new clients?
Blogging of course! Blogging is an amazing way to win new business and attract the right kind of clients and it is a tool that will work for you 24/7. Have I mentioned that blogging is amazing at generating leads for small businesses? The conversations and the partnerships that have come from it are fantastic, combined with Twitter it’s a lethal business weapon.
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Start a blog. Not only is it therapeutic, it generates leads and helps establish your authority.
Plan your marketing carefully, when starting out it’s okay to bootsrap but as you become more established it can do you more harm than good.
My final piece of advice is – learn to let go. You cannot do everything, so outsource the bits that you don’t like or that bore you. Life is too short to do the things you hate.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
My daughters. I have three gorgeous daughters who bring so much joy into my life, if I feel like giving up I only have to see them to know I’ll soon be through this tough spot. A great work ethic is a gift and I hope they can see from me that it’s good to work.
What’s your favourite quote?
Henry Ford has the best quotes ever, followed by Mark Twain. The one I love the most is Ford’s response to his customers “If I’d have listened to my customers I’d have built a faster horse”.
Who inspires you?
My husband, he has so much strength and can remain so positive, so strong. I’m also inspired by the women who blog over at Birds on the Blog – Jane Hatton, Anita Hunt,Suzan St Maur, Babs Saul, Linda Mattacks, Jackie Walker, Mary Weaver, Ann Godridge, Sally Church – gosh there’s so many, I can’t mention them all here. I am always inspired by their attitudes and their amazing endurance to overcome whatever life throws at them.
Do you have a business philosophy?
Yes, to be true to myself and not compromise on my principles as that never helps anyone.
Get in touch…
Facebook Fanpage: http://www.Facebook.com/BirdsOnTheBlog