Emily Duff is a millennial who grew up around social media and technology. She successfully launched and ran an online e-magazine for youths when just 17 years old, and was nominated for a series of business awards off the back of this.
Emily launched JAE Consultancy in January 2018 to help small businesses get their social media profiles off the ground. Based on her son’s initials, JAE Consultancy has a personal approach that makes individuals feel at ease at the beginning of their business journeys.
Emily strives to achieve excellence in everything she does for her clients, and loves seeing people succeed in their own companies.
Female Entrepreneur Q & A
What made you decide to start your business and become a female entrepreneur?
After university I had a job where I was on a small team for almost a year. During that job, what started as writing copy for a website quickly turned into marketing, which is where I found my passion. I loved the social media aspect of marketing, and would spend hours finding memes and news stories to share on the company’s social platforms. When I was told to leave my job, they weren’t very supportive of my marketing skills. In fact they told me told I sucked at marketing! And that took me back a bit.
I spent a few months in a sort of cloud, wondering if my passion was just a love of social media (I am a millennial after all!) or if it was something that I was truly good at. To test the waters I helped a few of my friends and family members manage their social media presence, and found that what I was doing actually helped their businesses to grow. Then I looked into what it would take to start my own business helping other companies with their social media and digital marketing, and the ball started rolling from there.
Being told I sucked was a blow, but what I learnt afterwards was that I didn’t suck at all – I just had a different way, a new way, of marketing through social media and digital means that my previous employer didn’t recognize.
What was the process of turning your idea into reality?
It was a Monday morning, and I found myself making a list of all the reasons why my business idea wouldn’t take off. No funds. No support. Plus the income aspect of working and being self employed played a large factor as I have a young son to support.
I then wrote a list of all the positives to having my own business. Flexible – I can do the school run and parent’s days and everything my son’s schooling would require. No commute (huge bonus living in London). Taking sick days when I or my son needed them. I soon realized the positives outweighed the negatives and so I registered as a sole trader, built a website, and launched my social media pages, all in the same morning. And within a week, I had 3 clients and things were already a lot brighter.
What ways have you marketed your business and which has worked the best for you?
Building connections is basically what marketing crumbles down to, and I found that I knew a lot of local small businesses who I knew I could help. Being personally recommended and getting new clients and interest through word of mouth built my confidence, so I now have the commitment to advertising my business through my social channels and website, as well as by posting my rates into community support networks.
I have found that my blog is a great way to get my business out there, and in fact I have had many more people approach me off the back of a blog asking for advice, and eventually becoming a client, than I have done from any other method.
What’s the one thing you wished you knew at the beginning of your journey?
People come and go. I used to get hung up when a working relationship didn’t work for either party. It goes back to the ‘I suck’ mentality I took away with me from my last job. Sometimes we don’t click with other people in ways we do with others, and in my position it’s important that someone I work with trusts me and listens to me, as I do to them. I get personally connected to some of my clients, in that their business growth and successes affect me too. I put so much into my clients and their work that if something did go wrong, or they decided to move in another direction, I felt hurt. But I now understand that this is how small businesses work, and if one client decides they don’t need my services anymore, there’s another client who will.
What’s your daily workday like?
My daily work life is structured around my son’s school day. So don’t ask me this during the school holidays! We wake at 7am, get washed and dressed for school, and have breakfast together at 8am. I like spending time with him in the morning, and it’s a vast difference to working a 9-5 and having to take him to the childminder’s house in the mornings.
After the school run, I’m back at home and ready to work – I spend a few hours scheduling in social media posts for my own business and for clients, and creating new images where needed. Depending on what my clients need that week, I may be writing blogs or interacting in Facebook groups; each week does vary depending on different businesses’ needs and targets. I try to take a lunch break, but sometimes I get really into writing a new blog or creating a collection of graphics, that my lunch becomes something snacky and quick (sorry mum!).
After I’ve picked my son up, I spend a couple of hours with him technology-free, cooking dinner together and doing homework and getting him ready for bed. Then once he’s asleep, you’ll find me sharing social media posts and replying to comments for my clients whilst watching something like Eastenders or Love Island. I usually don’t work weekends, unless a client is running a special event or something that requires my help and attention.
How do you fit being a female entrepreneur around being a mother?
It’s definitely a challenge, especially in the school holidays, but I find that a routine is key to fitting in all that needs doing. My son was attending a school nursery 9-3 when I started my business, and it helped having a few hours to myself daily to do work-related tasks. I try not to work around him, as most of my work can be done on my phone and I don’t want technology to be a barrier between us, but quite often in the holidays when he’s playing in a park for example, I’ll be ‘that mum’ sitting on a bench on my phone scheduling social posts. I wrote a blog at a jungle gym soft play establishment earlier this week! You do what you have to keep your child happy and your business growing – and the occasional take-away is perfectly acceptable if you don’t find time to cook!
Have you got a favourite quote or mantra that keeps you going?
It’s not so much a quote or mantra, but the words ‘you suck at marketing’ keep me motivated to do what I’m doing. It’s almost a ‘told you so’ reaction, in that I want to prove everyone who has ever doubted me that I can do it. I can be a single mum and a young woman and a female entrepreneur and have a clean home and brush my hair every day! It is achievable.
If you could offer one piece of advice to the ladies out there thinking of starting or just starting their entrepreneurial journey what would it be?
Research what you want to do. Find your niche and identify your competition in that field. Notice what they do, on their website, social media, in the press, and plan how you would do that too. You don’t need to copy, but watching someone else rise to success is a great way to inspire you to rise too.
If you could have the help of anyone who would it be?
If I could have the help of anyone it would either be a partner (to cook/clean/shop and to talk to about my business, being a single mum is quite lonely at times) or a personal masseuse as I get terrible aches and pains from being hunched over my laptop or phone all day!
What’s the ultimate goal for yourself and your business?
My business name is my son’s initials, and I’d love to do something with it that makes him proud. I don’t want to force him to take it over if it’s not his passion, but I definitely want him to be proud of what I’ve achieved. And this is something that changes over time, as my own personal expectations change over time. I’m fortunate enough that I’ve not had a single week since launching that I haven’t had a client. That, to me, is a huge deal. My son gets excited that I have a few clients he can benefit from (event planners with doughnut walls!) and so his goals for me are to work with footballers, fast food establishments and Spiderman.
Ultimately I want my business to grow past myself, into a small team or even a larger team. I envision graphic designers and illustrators, bloggers and journalists, working alongside myself and a photographer or two. The demand is there, but it’s still my baby and I’m hesitant to let go of it quite yet!
Thank you so much Emily for taking the time to do this interview with Anne Louise Magazine. Do you have an additional questions for Emily? Let us know in the comments below!
Want to find out more or get in touch with Emily?
To get in touch or find out more about the amazing services Emily offers, pop along to www.jaeconsultancy.co.uk
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