Marzipan PR is a business communications and copywriting business, working with start-ups, small and large SMEs. Its founder and managing director, Jackie Bennett Shaw, shares her inspirational Lancashire woman in business story.
What does your business do?
I run a business communications and copywriting business. Working with start-ups, and small to large SMEs, I help them grow through communications health checks and improvement strategies; placing news articles in local newspapers and target press; writing copy for case studies, brochures and leaflets, blogs, and websites; and managing and create social media content.
Why did you start your own business?
I started Marzipan PR in Lancaster in 2017 after being made redundant, twice in two years: once from a large corporate that relocated its marketing down south, and the other from an agency that no longer wanted an office in the north.
At that point, I decided I wanted to take the rest of my career to my retirement into my own hands. I wanted to put the commitment and hard work I give towards something where I would find more personal satisfaction and growth. I also wanted to bring the skills and experience I had developed over many years to my local area to support other businesses and help them grow.
What has been your biggest business breakthrough?
I worked part-time in a salaried position, whilst trying to grow Marzipan PR to the point where it was making enough money for me to live on and it was sustainable as a business. Having the confidence to launch myself full-time into my own business was a big move.
I feel like I break barriers on a daily basis in self-employment, but surviving and building resilience through the pandemic has to be a “biggy”. Also, creating my set of business values and, because of these, actually declining business because it wasn’t the right fit and I didn’t think we would work well together.
What has been your proudest achievement in your business?
My proudest achievement is that I have worked with my original clients since I started my business and that’s five years now we’ve been working together… that has to be worth celebrating.
It sounds a bit corny, but every time I see my client’s name in lights for a successful award entry I’ve done, or appearing in a newspaper or magazine with an article or news story I’ve written, or a great social post that gets lots of great engagement, I feel proud. When that feeling stops, it is time for me to give up!
What is the most effective support or guidance you have received?
Having a mentor is a really important support for me, especially at the beginning when I was starting up and received mentoring through Boost. I was good at my job but not necessarily confident with sales or other parts of running a business, so this helped me to learn and pointed me in the direction for making strong connections. A good local network of business associates is also vital for getting your name out there and for sharing advice.
During the pandemic and lockdowns, The Growing Club’s Peer Networks support was invaluable. It helped to build resilience and a strong connection, mentoring and being mentored, in a safe space. My course partner and I still talk to each other once a month, and I know she’s always there if I need to talk about any opportunities or worries with my business.
What keeps you going when things are tough?
My network of great contacts is there if I need advice or just to chat things through if they get tough. I’ve learned a lot of techniques for resilience through peer to peer networking and through mindfulness courses that I’ve done.
My daughter keeps me going. She’s my number one critic and my biggest fan at the same time. She keeps me grounded, and always inspires me to keep going because she’s so proud of my achievements and is so encouraging.
What are your best 3 tips for maintaining your wellbeing?
Make sure that you’ve got a good work and life balance – both are important and complementary to each other.
Have good people around you to talk to who will truly listen and who you can trust to be honest.
Remember, when things go wrong, it’s only a temporary phase… have faith because good things will be around the corner.
What advice would you give to a female entrepreneur starting a business?
Do your research first. Make sure your venture is viable and backed up by strong financial and business plans. Look into the support that is around you, in terms of mentoring and courses – often you will find you can get some of this free of charge at the start.
Network and find a group of people you can talk to for advice. You’ll usually find other business people supportive and wanting to help. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Be you… be confident in who you are, your values, what you have to offer and what type of people you want to work with.
See failure – because there will be lots of it – as an opportunity to learn and move on and don’t waste time beating yourself up about it.
Would you like to see your business grow? So would we.
To speak to someone from the Growth Hub about business support, contact Boost online or call 0800 488 0057.