Rebecca Lees, Creative Director at Chatterbox Communications, has been talking with us at Business News Wales about the challenges and successes she’s experienced in her 20 years in print, online and broadcast media, the value of doing your research and her hopes for Chatterbox Communications in the coming years.
Not only is Rebecca Creative Director at Chatterbox Communications, she is also a writer of many genres including fictional short stories, walking trail books and a regularly updated blog.
- Tell us about your business?
Chatterbox Communications offers bespoke and affordable PR and creative content for small businesses, start-ups and national brands, specialising in press releases, SEO copywriting, blogs and social media – as well as all those other writing jobs that clients never get around to! Clients include software developers, online retailers, legal firms, creative businesses and tourism providers, as well as third sector organisations.
I’m proud to have been selected as one of the ‘ICE 50’, an intake of start-up businesses to receive a funded place at the Innovation Centre for Enterprise (Welsh ICE) in Caerphilly. It’s a great hub in which to collaborate with other creative businesses, share learning and get invaluable support.
- What are your plans for the next five years, and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?
In the near future I aim to take on staff and move to a bigger workspace. I’m also keen to expand the tourism PR side of the business, and see the success of the 2016 Year of Adventure as a real opportunity. I love being out in Wales’ beautiful countryside in all weathers and I write walking trails guides, so I totally understand where outdoor activities businesses and tourism providers are coming from!
I think Brexit could bring enormous challenges to small businesses in Wales and fear the depth of the consequences, both in terms of vital funding for Valleys projects and the division that is already starting to show within communities.
- What do you wish you had known when you started out in business?
If only I’d realised how long all the practical things take! In hindsight I should have set aside more time to research things such as the best business bank account and the right accountant, rather than focusing mainly on the branding and website.
- Looking back at your career, are there things you would have done differently?
Not a thing, even the decisions that weren’t good ones in the long run. The death of my brother, just as I was raising small children, had a huge impact on my career plan but you just have to work around what life brings. It’s such a cliché but I don’t think I’d have found the confidence to launch Chatterbox without the challenges that followed and some pretty big mistakes I had to learn from along the way.
- What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?
Creativity, initiative, a thick skin and a willingness to keep learning. You can sign up to all sorts of courses to help with the business side, but if you haven’t got the ability to constantly motivate yourself, it just won’t work.
- What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a business?
Don’t try and do it all yourself. Outsource the tasks you’re not strong at and focus on the things you do well. And see others in your field as collaborators, not competition – their skills could complement yours rather than cancel them out.
- What are your top three tips for success?
- Don’t give up at the first hurdle. Think of all the entrepreneurs who failed many, many times before getting it right
- Don’t undersell yourself or apologise for being a start-up. Experience doesn’t always equal excellence
- Network – and keep networking until you find a group you love. Some are really awful; just chalk up the experience and move on to one that suits you
- What do you think Wales’ strengths and weaknesses are as a place to do business?
Wales is vibrant and diverse, with such a huge pool of talent and creativity (and not just in Cardiff!). But we can have a huge chip on our shoulder about how the rest of the UK sees us and I think we can be way too parochial at times.
- What can Wales do to attract more inward investment?
It’s a fantastic time to be Welsh, following the football and with some innovative and exciting adventure centres choosing Wales as their base. We all need to tap into that confidence and prove that it’s as good a place as any in the world to do business.