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Career: Marketing agency for franchises
Job title: Founding Director
The role: Company visionary & managing the strategic direction of Coconut Creatives Ltd.
Description: I work with a number of franchisors and their franchisees to help them grow through tailored marketing, PR, advertising and branding activities
Last book read: The Nurtured Family by Veronika Robinson
How would you describe the experience of being a female in your industry?
The franchise sector is generally a bit of an ‘old boys’ club. As the founder of a marketing company in this industry, it sits nicely to be female and younger than 60.
I am also the co-chair of an organisation called EWIF which encourages women into a franchising career. It has annual awards and a conference every year that my business is involved in. It is all about encouraging more women to join the franchise sector: as a franchisor, as a business owner or as a franchisee. Supporting women who are looking for a route into this industry is something I am very passionate about.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever got in your career so far?
Never give up! Work harder than everyone else but work smart.
Delegate as much as you can so you only focus on the activities that add the MOST intrinsic value. Surround yourself with the BEST people and people that you like and trust.
Smile, be nice always, even when things aren’t going your way. Integrity and credibility is everything – do the right thing for every client, even if it’s not commercially sensible. They will thank you for it in the end and your referral network will explode!
What was the career path you took in order to get where you are today?
My original choice of career was very different to the industry I am now in. I was planning to be a graphic designer after I left school. Instead I decided to take year out, so I went to Australia at 18 years old. When I came back I was extremely interested in how information flowed between businesses and customers. In Australia it amazed me how other back packers provided the best word of mouth and how companies that wanted their attention got it. I discovered at 19 this was called marketing! I started a marketing degree 6 weeks after I returned from my trip and never looked back.
This followed onto the path of a degree, then a professional postgraduate diploma with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) while working. I successfully launched Coconut Creatives in London during 2005. Now I am a chartered marketer working with organisations from start-ups to large enterprises like Mc Donald’s and everything in between.
What was the most important decision you made in that path that brought you where you are today?
It wasn’t one decision, it was many smaller decisions that brought me to where I am today.
It sits along the lines of Rome not being built in a day. I think at the heart of decision making for your life is to ensure you follow a vision. I’ve always been a fan of vision boards and having mine printed out in my office. I have always tried to ensure that all the small decisions count – they keep me going in the right direction.
The other vital decision in my life was choosing my husband (second time round!). He has the most fantastic business brain, he is my mentor and best friend.
What kind of person do you need to be to be a business owner?
- You need to be kind and honest – listen to other people first
- Learn, learn and learn! You need to always be willing to learn and to never stop this process. You will never know everything but stand your ground on what you do know and understand which battles to ensure you win and which ones don’t really matter
- In terms of key skillset, you HAVE to be able to sell. I don’t mean the hard sell – but understand your clients’ needs and show them how working with you really is the best solution
- To always be thinking 10 steps ahead, in my case our business must be industry leading and always at the cutting edge of marketing both online and offline in a dynamic industry such as ours
What does it take to be a successful director?
Oh gosh, what a question. I think it takes someone who is willing to work ridiculously hard and for a long period of time. I used to be up at 5am 3 days a week so I could do 3 hours work before the staff came into the office. Then I would start my normal day. The key skill I’ve learnt (which I’ve already mentioned) is delegation. There is a matrix that I used to use as a key tool for this.
Divide a piece a paper into 4 quadrants and write:
Urgent & important
Urgent & not important
Not urgent but important
Not urgent and not important
Put ALL your tasks and activities into the relevant quadrant and you’ll see which ones you should be doing, which to delegate and which to ignore! It’s a great starting point for those wanting to get going with delegation.
What inspires you most in your line of work?
Helping people! I LOVE to help business owners grow and see them achieve their dreams.
Helping other people to achieve whatever it is they aspire to be is the biggest reward I could ever ask for.
I come from a family of business owners. I talk about it in my book Dream, Plan, Reduce Risk & Take Action. I watched my dad run several successful businesses and achieve nice cars, holidays and a beautiful home where he now spends time with the whole family (including the grandchildren).
What motivates you to keep going?
I’m motivated by freedom of choice to do what I want when I want.
Money helps me to do this, but like they say money doesn’t bring happiness. For me, I’m not happy unless I run my own schedule, to ride the horses, spend time with my family and take a Friday off to go to a theme park if I choose. That for me is worth all the hard work, early starts and 80-hour weeks!
I live by the phrase ‘What the mind can conceive, you can believe and achieve.’ Anything is possible if you can visualise it, you just need the determination and sticking power to make it happen.
Written by Sarah Carlile
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