Spin Brands help SME’s & Startups punch above their weight. Having worked across all sorts of industries, from B2B/B2C to niche/mass market and incredibly on an international scale, Spin Brands provide businesses with social media expertise and know-how which allows them to harness the power of these invaluable channels.
Hey Nicola, can you introduce yourself to us?
Hey! I’m part of the founding team of Spin Brands; a London-based boutique Social Media & Digital Marketing agency for Start-ups and SMEs. My role could be considered half “Internal Director” and half “Account Director”, but my day-to-day usually involves looking after my own set of clients and working with the two Co-Founders to make sure we’re on track with our business goals.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
My journey actually started in HR. I studied Psychology at University and knew I wanted a people-focussed role. Despite having no experience, I managed to land myself an HR Internship in a top media agency in London, which, amazingly, turned into a 3-year role. I learned so much and developed so many new skills, but felt it wasn’t a path I wanted to venture further down.
Meanwhile I’d met Alex, who worked in the media team there, and he was looking to leave to start up his own business – something that had always been a huge dream of his. Initially, that was a bicycle brand (Fixation London) which had a successful pop-up shop in Seven Dials, Covent Garden, but ultimately he realised his real passion lay within the Social Media & Digital Marketing side of the business. After meeting his now business partner (Max Whicher) who ran a Surrey-based bike shop through a mutual contact, Spin Brands was born.
With the business in its very early stages and traction quickly building, I helped out where I could – in lunch hours and before and after work – but the need for a third team member was pretty imminent. One morning, I decided to hand in my notice to my comfortable, well-paid HR career – and take the plunge. I knew the move was a huge risk, but after lots of discussion we decided that the benefits far outweighed those risks. And here I am, 2 years later!
What is a day in the life of you like?
It sounds cliche, but no two days are the same. As my role is split between client management and internal operations, I may be pitching for new business in the morning and then interviewing potential candidates (to work at Spin) in the afternoon! And in amongst that, my role is to ensure that the team has everything they need – from resource to training – and helping the co-founders implement their business goals. At the moment we’re looking to expand the team quite quickly, which is taking up most of my time and focus.
Can you tell us more about the concept of Spin Brands?
On the whole, effective but affordable social media and digital marketing for small companies is a relatively underserved market. Start-ups and SMEs need to market themselves to put their business on the map, but large, hugely expensive agencies are out of the question, and freelancers can’t provide the consistency that they need in the early stages, nor can they fully integrate themselves into the business. We think of ourselves as the solution to that problem; we take the “headache” of maintaining and growing social media accounts off their hands, and allow them to leverage the power of it to ultimately boost their credibility and achieve ROI.
How would you say you that social media growth plays a key role during the of start-up stage of modern-day SME’s?
Social media is the second most consulted platform when it comes to consumers making purchasing decisions, after a company’s website. Therefore, if the channels are not maintained or are of poor quality, a small business may be missing out on potential and valuable customers. Some say that if you don’t exist on social media, you may as well not exist at all. Therefore social media is vital for the credibility factor of any growing SME – whether they be B2B or B2C.
As Spin Brands continue to grow, what important factors are considered when looking at the scaleability of the business model?
Whether the model we have will allow us to grow in the way we want to. It works very well within our team of 11, but the question is, how will we need to adapt as we grow in order to best serve our clients? Another important factor is the ever-changing nature of social media and digital marketing. We are small enough at the moment to be nimble and agile in order to be on top of the changing landscape, but that will become increasingly difficult as the business continues to grow. We have plenty of plans in place, though!
Where could you see Spin Brands within the next 3-5 years?
Hopefully with a client base 3 times the size, and with at least 2 new international offices and teams!
How are you planning to expand further?
At the moment, next steps for expansion include looking at international opportunities, as well as developing our own software to sell to businesses.
Can you tell us what areas you have struggled in professionally?
Definitely being thrown in at the deep end as a Director. I came from a team where making decisions didn’t really feature on my to-do list, to creating entire systems, hiring a team and putting processes in place. Needless to say there was a bit of “imposter syndrome” going on, but the satisfaction that comes from realising you’re alright, and that you can work out the answers to any question if you put your mind to it, makes it so worthwhile.
What outlets do you use to market Spin Brands?
We’re in the incredibly fortunate position of getting all of our work through word of mouth. We do, however, practice what we preach and ensure we are visible on social channels and easy to find. We’re also running a stand at a large Business show in November, so hope to use that as another platform to open us up to new business.
Which methods are you using to build your own support network?
Keeping my LinkedIn profile updated and always being on the lookout for new people to connect with. You never know where you might meet people too – so always carrying a business card helps!
What do you believe are the common misconceptions of being an entrepreneur?
That the day involves hopping from trendy cafe to trendy cafe creating your own, flexible working schedule. Working as an entrepreneur or in a small start-up is hugely rewarding and brings about its own kind of flexibility and career autonomy, but people should not be fooled about it being easy or carefree. Early mornings and late nights are common, but the rewards are so worth it.
What would you like to see changed for millennials in business?
It would be great to see young people have more opportunities to gain valuable experience. With the cost of living becoming more and more expensive, the pressure has never been higher for millenials to secure a well-paid job. The problem is, in order to do that, they need real-life experience, which I think so many companies are unwilling to give without them having experience in the first place. It’s a vicious circle.
What is the best piece of advice you have received to date?
It’s more of a motto, but “happiness = the difference between reality and expectations” is unbelievably true. The smaller the gap between how you expect something to be, and how it really is, the happier you will be. This goes for your career, your friendships, relationships and even your own outlook on the world around you.
What is the number 1 critical lesson you have learned in your career so far?
That going against the grain is not as scary as it seems. Up until the age of about 24 I was extremely risk-averse, and have now realised it probably held me back in lots of ways. My school instilled in me that in order to be successful you had to go to a top University, secure a graduate job in a reputable company and work your way up from there. I’ve since learned that that’s really not the case, and I’ve met so many incredibly successful people who escaped the academic route as soon as they legally could!
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
This is a tricky one. I have a rule that I don’t talk about work in the evenings at home, or during the weekends/holidays. And as I spend most of my day on social media, by the evenings I’m glad to see the back of it so enjoy seeing friends or exercising. I believe that if you don’t allow yourself to switch off from work, your productivity actually goes down, so it’s really important to shut the laptop down and enjoy your own time – even if the emails continue to flood in.
The highlight of Spin Brands so far?
Being nominated as one of the Top 100 UK Startups 2018. It was a fantastic accolade and something we are so proud of as a team.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
Knowing that the team is motivated and excited about where the business is going, and seeing each person realise that they are an integral part of that journey. But, equally, rewarding them for all the hard work that they put in.
As a founding member, what challenges have you seen to have been presented during the growth of Spin Brands?
Finding the right balance of bringing on new clients at the right pace with expanding the team has been a tricky (but overall fun!) challenge. It’s a bit like a car; the faster you drive, the quicker you may reach your destination, but the more likely it is that parts will fall off or go wrong in the process. It’s not just about bringing on these new team members to help with our growing client base, it’s also about working out where their strengths and passions lie, and allowing them to grow and progress into new roles within the business too.
Which other leading entrepreneurs and pioneering game changers do you also admire and why?
Gary Vaynerchuk for his tenacity and drive in business. His book ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’ underpins what we do here every day. There is also Holly Anna Scarsella because she’s a hard-working, successful businesswoman (Pampelone Clothing) and mum, and makes it all look so easy! I’ve attended some of her talks, and have always admired her attitude and approach to life.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
The Art of Client Service’ by Robert Solomon is a must-read for anybody working with any clients, in any industry. It has shaped so much of how we work here at Spin Brands.
What does your Podcast playlist look like?
Some great ones I have listened to include: ‘How I built This’, ‘Social Pro’, ‘Feel Better Live More’ by Dr Chatterjee and then also ‘The Art Of Paid Traffic & Mixergy.’
How do you measure your own terms of success?
To me, success comes from throwing out the rule book, and not doing what everyone else is doing. There are always different and better ways things can be done; just because something worked well for one business, doesn’t mean it will for another. So to me, challenging convention and doing things in your own way brings about the best results in the end.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about other women doing amazing things in business, and as a collective place to talk about all their achievements! I look forward to continuing to read it each week.
Lastly what is next for Spin Brands?
We’re at a really exciting point in the business now, and in the near future we’re looking at vertical expansion by taking on bigger clients, international expansion into new markets, and developing our own technology.