Alex Hill left university just after two months to start up her own business. She created a start up social media marketing agency called Cambie + Co. Her company is on a mission to change the way brands portray themselves on social media, through fresh, cutting-edge ideas, with the aim of making a huge impact online.
When and how did you start your business?
I started my business in August 2017, with the help of my mum who also runs a business (A web design and UX agency). She set up my website, and in return, I did some free marketing for her!
Why did you decide to start?
It all started when I decided to leave university after just 2 months. I finished my A levels in summer 2016, and went off to the University of York to study English Literature. Freshers week went by, and I was having loads of fun. Things seemed fine. But as the weeks went by, and my flat mates were still going out every night like it was Freshers, I found myself sat in my room feeling completely out of place.
I wasn’t getting enough contact time on my course and I was also focusing on my jobs (at which I had two part time jobs) more than my degree.
I had no idea what I wanted to do after university and why I was there at all. I knew one thing however – I wanted to do something big, awesome, different, and something that allowed me financial freedom. I had always believed that university would help that, but instead, it was actually hindering it.
Christmas came, I packed up my bags to go home like everyone else, and I didn’t come back. I had no plan of what I was to do now I had dropped out. I am lucky enough to have a mum who runs a business, so she took me along to my very first networking event to meet employers and see if there was anything that caught my eye.
I met a lady there who runs a business in the social media marketing industry, and I thought it sounded really interesting. I decided to send her an email to see if there were any job opportunities.
Long story short, I ended up working for her full time from April 2017. I learned a lot – a lot about social media, about marketing, and about business. I also grew my own network and got to know Newcastle’s thriving, but tiny, business scene.
August came along, and I was very suddenly made redundant. It was a horrible, hard, sad time, but I knew I had to make something of myself. The night of the day I was made redundant (August 8th 2017), I decided to set up Cambie + Co.
Can it be hard to be your own boss?
It can be hard if you aren’t suited to it. I however believe that I am suited to it, as I do have a strong sense of self-discipline and can keep myself accountable and on track. I actually find it harder to have someone else as a boss than being my own boss! I do know others who find it incredibly tough, however, so I do believe it depends on the person.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Watching Youtube videos, listening to podcasts, reading books and looking at other successful entrepreneurs. I love watching people like Erin Henry, Alfie Deyes and Kalyn Nicholson on Youtube, as they have such great lifestyles and are always offering advice and inspiration to those wanting to become their own boss, or are already their own boss.
Are there any challenges owning your own business?
Of course! You wear all the hats. I am lucky enough to be able to afford an accountant to take care of all the maths-y, numbers stuff, which I despise!
But I still have to chase up clients who haven’t paid, find new clients, grow the business, market the business, write blogs, recruit the perfect freelancers, attend networking events, read educational books, listen to podcasts, track my expenditures, secure speaking slots, prepare presentations, prepare proposals, respond to emails, carry out free consultations…the list only goes on!
Running a business isn’t easy, and no one should tell you that either. It is however, one of the best, most rewarding things you will ever do.
Is there a right time to start a business?
Nope. I started my business at 19 on the day I was made redundant. 24 hours beforehand, I was in a secure job with a monthly salary, with no idea that only a day later I would be setting up a business.
If you have an idea and a passion, then take the leap and do it now. If you don’t do it now, you will never do it. Not next week, next month, next year, after you have finished your degree, or once you get to that certain point in your career. The only time that exists is now – and it’s your chance to make it a moment you are proud of.
As your company expands, I guess it may feel overwhelming- how did you keep it together?
It’s incredibly overwhelming! As I said before, I do have accountants to manage the financial side of the business, which is a huge burden off my shoulders. I have recruited a number of freelancers who are now part of my team, and assist me in client projects and live event promotion services. It’s impossible to be in 20 places at once! There is no shame in delegating tasks – you are better off micro-managing and instead spending your time on the things that are going to make your business thrive.
Have you noticed any changes in the world of business ?
I may be slightly influenced by what I do, but social media! Social media has actually been around for a long time. Facebook was launched 14 years ago. But it has only been in the last few years, if that, that brands have actually started using social media to its fullest potential.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
Being able to make the most of my mornings. I am a morning person, like to wake up slowly, and mindfully enjoy the start of the day with a hot cup of fresh coffee and some yoga. Being employed didn’t allow me to live my life the way I wanted to. Secondly, I can also operate on my own ideas and drive the business in the direction I want to.
What is your advice to any young woman who want to start a business ?
Do your research. Before you start any business, you should know how you are going to stand out from every other business offering the same or similar services or products to you, and who you are targeting.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in business is companies targeting ‘everybody’. It just doesn’t work! You need to understand their needs, values, interests, background, income, profession/occupation, gender, age, etc. This is by no means pigeon-hole-ing you, but allowing you to create targeted marketing materials that will actually convert as they speak to a specific audience.
How does it feel to be a woman in charge?
I feel like I am a step ahead, in a way. I don’t mean that in any negative way towards others who haven’t launched businesses, as there are plenty of incredible women succeeding in university, and that’s amazing! I feel that going down the path that I have has given me a world of opportunity that I just didn’t have before. I now have more opportunities than I have ever had before, more friends than I have ever had before, and a greater sense of self-worth and confidence than I have ever had before.