Caroline Sumners Q and A Interview
Can you share your back story with us, a bit about your childhood?
I grew up in Hampshire. I remember having a very happy childhood. My parents gave us (me and my sis) the opportunity to do lots of things – we went swimming, dancing (I particularly loved tap dancing!), played tennis.
We enjoyed holidays together but my Dad always had his own business (in the construction industry) so there were tough times of course but I always remember him working incredibly hard and at the time I don’t think I realized at all the work that it took to start a company with a young family and keep that going for 30+ years. Incredible really.
Were you a determined child or has that developed?
I don’t think so but I think that we were encouraged to try whatever we wanted so that is where it comes from.
Can you share something about yourself that is not widely known?
My guilty pleasure is American teen dramas. One of my all time favourites is One Tree Hill.
How and when did you know you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
I was made redundant about eight years ago and briefly flirted with freelancing but then chickened out and went back to corporate life. Five years on and constant traveling, I had had enough. I was moaning on the phone to my dad again about my job and he gave me a bit of a wake up call and said “well girl come on, either get on with it or do something about it – you’ve still got years of work ahead of you”. And you know what, he was right. So I went in the next week and resigned. It felt empowering, exciting and terrifying all at the same time – and still does!
Tell us about your business…
I help SME and entrepreneurs make sense out of marketing and growing their business with practical easy to understand and implement advice. I follow a six-step framework and set them on their way to creating great marketing for their biz. I try not to use too much jargon and I offer ongoing support where needed.
What did you give up to get to where you are today? What did you have to sacrifice?
Financial stability and security, for sure. The first few years in business are hard and don’t believe anyone that tells you otherwise. I cant buy so many pairs of shoes now, but the things I have sacrificed are just things. I honestly think that in most cases I haven’t had to sacrifice and mostly I’ve just gained from being an entrepreneur. I know that sounds cheesy but it really is true.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to do?
Getting up everyday and motivating yourself is incredibly hard.
What are your goals for 2016 and beyond?
I’m launching a marketing mastermind club in the next few weeks that allows SME and entrepreneurs to access training and planning for their marketing activities in a supportive environment. Its designed for anyone who doesn’t have the means to hire a marketing director full time but wants greater understanding and ability to market their business in the best way they can. Initially it will be in-person workshops in and around Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex but as I go into 2017 I want to expand this and also take the program online. I will still offer the one-to-one consulting but this mastermind club will make it more accessible for more people, whilst offering support and accountability from other participants.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? Do you have any big Goals?
Five years is a long time in business but I would like to expand on the mastermind and see if I can take that global: everyone loves a British accent you know! I’m thinking about writing a book – not sure what about but – watch this space. Beyond that from a personal perspective let’s just see. Ill probably get another dog to keep Rufus the mini schnauzer company!
A big goal for me would be to get some “talking-heads” roles on radio/TV – I just love the brave new online world and would relish an opportunity to put my oar in to the geeky debates of the day!
Can you share 3 #BizTips for Women in Business
1) Don’t feel that you need to be on all social networks all the time. Work out what is best for your business and your clients and where they are and be consistent. Less is more, so if necessary limit the networks you are on
2) Get a Business Bestie now. This is so important. Family and friends are great but you need to have someone that you can talk through your business with no agenda. I have three business besties and it honestly changed everything. I just started a Facebook group to provide just this kind of support
3) If you’re struggling to get everything done and feel overwhelmed set goals and work in 90-day cycles. This gives you a much shorter timeframe to work in ensure that you review progress on a regular basis and can fix anything not working. At the end of each 90-day cycle review but also celebrate success – no matter how small.
How can people best connect with you online? twitter, website, youtube?
You can read more from Caroline Sumners – How To Create A Marketing Plan That Works inside #BizRocks Magazine Issue 37
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