News and Insight, Hints and tips, Small Business
Ucreate PR’s Founder on starting, running and growing a business
After only one year in business, Tamika Martin won Entrepreneur of the Year as sponsored by Experian at the 2016 Nottingham Post Business Awards with her start-up company Ucreate PR and Events Management Ltd.
Now in her third year, Tamika discusses some of the highlights and challenges she has faced since starting, running and growing her business.
When you started Ucreate did you leave your previous employment to start the business, or did you set up Ucreate in your spare time, whilst holding down a job?
I had a bit of a gap to be honest because I needed to think about what it was I wanted to do. It’s a really big responsibility and commitment and I needed to be sure it was right for me. You can say ‘I want to be a business owner, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that…’ but saying it and putting it into practise are two different things. You’ve obviously got to consider the longevity of it too, staying in business and going for the long haul is another task and challenge in itself. So you’ve got to know it’s definitely what you want to do. I’ve a family as well and personal life – I had to question if they would go hand-in-hand, because running a business is so dominating.
Has it all been straight forward or did you face problems along the way?
It was a little bit difficult, mainly because business isn’t my background. I worked in the youth justice system for a few years and before that I went to University. So my business knowledge wasn’t that strong. But I threw myself into it and enrolled on several courses, whilst trying to grow in my area of expertise.
I imagine quite a few business owners are in a similar position – experts in their area, but don’t have a business background.
Yes, it’s about learning and having to adapt, change and develop. You’ve also got to get your background knowledge in place – knowing what the product is, how it works, who the target audience is going to be and you’ve got to know your Unique Selling Point (USP). Once you’ve all of those in place, you can literally start executing a plan and I do always advise to have a plan.
A formal business plan?
Yes, and obviously that’s going to be adaptive. It can change as you grow but just having a basic plan outlining the direction you want your business to go and how it will get there, is very important in the early stages.
Business knowledge aside, what’s been the biggest barrier to running your business?
Finances. That’s a big one, because if you’re going to launch a business and you haven’t looked up options of where the revenue streams are going to come from – that can prove to be quite a barrier and it can be frustrating if you don’t know what to do or where to turn.
You have to bear in mind that you’re potentially going in to a field that’s already got competitors, it could already be a big arena and you’re coming in as a newbie. If you haven’t got any savings to fall back on, you need to do your research with regards to grants, loans, investors, etc. and establish a clear direction of where the start-up revenue is going to come from.
How did you overcome that?
I’m still overcoming it; but fortunately I was able to put the basics of what I needed in place: an accountant, my banking, the brand and logo, basics of marketing – all the essentials really. I worked from home at first too, my co-working space is something that came after. It’s a case of doing what you can within your means, until you get to that point where you’re comfortable enough to look at all the different options that are available. And there are plenty, it’s just knowing who to contact, how to go about filling in that application form and approaching the right people in business.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
I like being the one in control. Being able to explore different ideas and working across a range of job functions. I have a very innovative mind and being the one in control means I can act on my ideas and run with them.
Do you have any top tips for somebody who’s starting their own business or who are in the early stages looking to grow?
My three top tips:
Networking is huge. But you have to network with the right people, you have to put yourself in the right places at the right time. To be a networker you have to have the networking skills. You have to be able to talk, you have to be able to communicate well and you have to present yourself well. Sell a story and make sure the story you’re telling is honest and true, and people will engage with you that way.
Know your brand and your product. It goes hand-in-hand, you have to be really close to what it is you’re trying to do and it has to be true to you. It has to be honest and able to deliver what it says it can. That’s really important.
Keep on building. Don’t ever look back. It’s all about going forward, fixating yourself with a goal and looking at the little targets you can reach. That’s one way to move forward in terms of building and developing, to have goals, targets and aspirations and to stick to them. Break things down into bitesize chunks and soon enough you’ll get there, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that’s the same for everything.
You can find out more information on the Nottingham Post Business awards here.
If you’re considering starting your own business, or are looking to grow your existing business click here to see how Experian Business Assist can help you make better decisions about your business, suppliers and customers.