Small Business Showcase: Sally Marshall!

Sally responded to my request for small business owners to showcase themselves and their businesses on my blog to provide insight, advice and inspiration for others who are starting up/thinking of starting up their own small businesses – including me!
The idea originally formed because I was fascinated by people’s stories and reasons for setting up their own businesses and I wanted to learn as much as I could in order to educate myself for the benefit of my own business.
I wanted to find a way to ask the questions I wanted the answers to but I realised that if I was interested surely others were interested in the answers too! In addition, I wanted the businesses willing to share their stories to get something in return so I devised the ‘Small Business Showcase’ blog series which will give each small business featured promotion across social media. Win-win for everyone!
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The same 10 questions were posed to all small businesses via questionnaire – here are Sally’s replies:
1) How would you summarise the service(s)/product(s) your business offers?
I work with businesses locally on planning, strategy and performance. Many business owners focus on what they are best at and the reason why they went into business. They don’t have a business plan, don’t spend any time on their strategy or look at what’s actually working and what’s not, yet if they need to go to the bank for finance, the first thing they are asked for is a business plan.
2) How long have you been a small business owner?
4 years.
3) What inspired you to set up your business?
My background is in the House of Commons working on business plans, annual reports, performance, balanced scorecard and large budgets. I realised that these skills are invaluable to business owners too. The only difference is the number of zeros on the spreadsheet.
4) What platforms/strategies do you use to promote your business?
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I tend to use Facebook to keep in touch with people and promote events. For business connections, LinkedIn and Twitter work best for me. Finding out where your target audience are is vital when planning your marketing and social media strategy.
5) What do you consider your greatest business achievement so far?
Publishing a glossy magazine for business. I had a crazy idea a couple of years ago to share information and promote each other. Many business owners need the help and support but don’t see the value in investing in a business coach or workshops, or maybe don’t have the time or money. My idea was to help them by using the magazine as a tool which would also promote me and make me different.
The magazine has evolved from something which was very rough and ready when it started, to a nice glossy magazine which is available free on my website and also by subscription as a printed magazine. It’s called Steer Your Business and has gone global which is very exciting. We publish it on the 1st of every month and have some interesting articles to share across social media.
 To date this is my biggest achievement and I’m very proud of it.
6) What do you consider your greatest business challenges?
Keeping up with the opportunities which are happening very quickly at the moment. The only way to cope with the increasing amount of work we have is to delegate. This is something I encourage my clients to do and I’m also building a team of people around me who have the skills I need. This allows me the time to go out and network and speak at events which, in turn, brings in clients.
Delegating is a big step for most of us; no-one can do it like we can! Once you take that first step it’s very liberating but it takes time to find the right people, train them to do things the way you want and then build the trust to enable them to just get on with the tasks you have given them.
7) What resources/training have been most beneficial to your business so far?
My experience from my previous employment in the House of Commons – I hadn’t realised how much I know! We all assume that everyone knows what we know but they don’t.
I’m learning all the time and for me it’s been a personal journey as much as a business journey. I’ve worked hard on myself by reading personal development books, talking to people who’ve been there and come out the other side, and just taken action to make the changes I need in my head which enable me to work on my business.
Each time I achieve something, like publishing my first book, it gives me the confidence to do something more.
8) What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting their own business?
Just make it happen! You can waste time getting everything perfect so just do it and learn as you go.
9) What are your future plans for your business?
To replicate what we’ve done with Steer Your Business and start a second magazine to compliment our website – www.reversethetide.com.
This was the original name for the business magazine but it took a different direction. My friend branded some flip flops which we posted on social media and people asked where they could buy them! This has now turned into a business about increasing awareness on environmental issues, recycling, no plastic etc. In order to monetise it, another magazine seems a sensible option. We have a template that works so it’s just a matter of changing the subject.
Alongside this, we are planning to set up a charity to raise money for community projects in schools relating to the beach and the environment.
10) Are there any other small businesses you would like to give a shout out to who have been an inspiration/support to you?
There are too many to mention. I collaborate with lots of businesses – it’s how we all grow – but my main inspiration came from Ash Lawrence. I was at an all-time low and met Ash when I really needed help and support. Ash runs a ‘Millionaire Mind Set’ course which changed my life. I now teach this course as well so I’m always thankful that I met Ash and that he’s been there for me on this amazing journey.
Any other comments?
I’m very active on social media and can be found on Twitter: @sallydmarshall, @steeryourbus or @revthetide.
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My ‘Small Business Showcase’ blog series will be published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday – previous showcases can be read here and here.
If you would like to feature your small business too, please email me at penningandplanning@gmail.com.
Claire
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