PR Ruth Wison – An entrepreneur’s guide to taking the plunge
THE hours are more flexible and it’s fun being your own boss but setting up on your own can be risky as well as lonely believes Ruth Wilson from Cramlington, who is now based in Manchester. She set up a public relations firm after having her second child – these are her top tips for making your job work.VER 50,000 new businesses were launched in the North of England last year – a record number of people in the UK decided to take the plunge and start their own company. The number of self employed women meanwhile, has grown by almost 10 per cent over the last two years, according to the Office of National Statistics.
It’s a daunting decision, to leave full-time work and set up on your own – but more and more people are doing it.
When I decided to go it alone, I’d worked in public relations for 16 years, in agencies in Newcastle, London and Manchester, and had some amazing times, promoting some of the UK’s best-known brands and businesses – but my priorities had shifted.
I found myself spending more time in meetings than actually doing the public relations (PR) – it’s part and parcel of management, but I missed the creative work itself. I’d also just had my second child and the idea of a more flexible working day really appealed to me.
I set up Ruth Wilson PR at the end of 2012 and thanks to old contacts and social media, found myself busy from the outset. I’ve now built up my own client portfolio, which is supplemented with freelance projects for marketing agencies whose clients need a one off piece of publicity or project.
There is a lot to consider whens starting: Where will I work? How will I get business? What are my overheads? How will I promote my business? How long should I give it to work? Who will fix my printer when it suddenly stops!?I found the best thing was to create a solid business plan. I documented everything I intended my business to be, from the type of clients I would work for, to my company personality, to expenses, to the way I would get new business. None of these are the same now – the key is to change as you develop – but it helped to set it all out.
My days are now pretty varied. Yesterday I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to consumer journalists, as I’m generating media coverage for some Christmas products. The day before I was setting up features in the trade media and planning some blogger activity for a client.
The variety is fantastic but for me, the main perk is the flexibility. It was quite an adjustment at first: being my own boss suddenly meant I could have a few hours off during the day, catching up later that evening. It took me a while to be able to do that – and to be honest, I still sometimes feel a little guilty!
A downside meanwhile, is that I do sometimes miss the office atmosphere. This is why my network of old colleagues and fellow freelancers is so invaluable. Just last week I had a creative session with two ex-colleagues on Facebook Messenger. They came up with some great ideas and really helped me consolidate my thoughts into a plan for a client campaign.
I’ve been really impressed with how supportive people can be: past clients and other local freelance professionals have passed work my way or recommended me and I can’t thank them enough.
Social media and networking have played big roles in gaining new work but I’ve also found that there are a number of people who have taken the same step: to set up on their own and have control over their own professional lives. They automatically want to help each other.
To anybody else thinking of setting up on their own, I’d advise the following:
- Get a good local accountant. They will ultimately save you way more money than they cost.
- Get a good website – it doesn’t have to be the most amazing visual affair, but online is where people look, so even a simple WordPress site with good SEO will do a lot for driving sales.
- Get your routine sorted. My school run is now my commute. It clears my head and divides hometime from worktime and this is important – jobs still need to be done.
- Leave your desk space. Socialise with other local homeworkers and freelancers and meet people for lunch.
- Most importantly – enjoy it! It is a scary thing to do – you will have new stresses to replace the old ones but for me, these are more than worth it.
Oh and lastly – make sure you get some good PR….!
Ruth Wilson grew up in the North-East and is now based in Manchester, representing clients all over the UK.