"Sometimes, the only option is to move on but there are jobs in my past where I know now that I could have developed internally if I’d talked about it with my manager."
With a love of marketing from the beginning, Emma gives us a real glimpse into that world and the variety it offers. Emma tells us honestly about her journey in and out of being self-employed, the challenges that working for yourself often brings and I think shows the reason why sometimes working for someone else gives you more freedom than having your own business - which may be contrary to popular belief. It's all about who you work for and how well their values match your own. In looking back over her career, Emma shares some really valuable insights, reflections and advice for others who may be feeling unsatisfied at work. This is such a lovely and very honest read, I really felt like I was on the journey with Emma when I was reading it. Enjoy!
Tell us a little about yourself – who are you besides the job you do?
I’m Emma, nature-lover and eternal optimist. I love spending time outdoors and have become a dedicated first-time vegetable gardener as well as learning to horse ride as an adult.
What do you do now?
I currently work for Keter as an Ecommerce Specialist. Keter manufacture sustainable outdoor storage products and I spend my day to day managing their social media and online content.
What do you love about it?
I enjoy a lot of things about this role. I think the company have a great leadership team, who place their people at the heart of all operations. I love the team I work in, there is a great mix of experience and we all get on well. I also love the variety of the work I do; each week brings a new project to work on, which keeps things interesting.
What did you do before and how did you end up there?
Before this role, I was working for myself as a digital marketing consultant which I started doing when I was made redundant from a previous role with a charity. I ran my own business for a couple of years, whilst also doing a part-time marketing role. I worked with small business owners to support them with things like email marketing and social media.
Could you tell us how you got into marketing in the first place and what appealed to you about it?
I've always been interested in communication and studied English Language & Linguistics at university. It was during my degree that I got involved with various societies as a publicity officer which I really enjoyed. I then went on to look for internships and work experience in marketing, volunteering in university projects at the time. I was weighing up either teaching or marketing when I graduated and landed my first job as a graduate boarding house assistant in a school. I quickly realised I didn't enjoy being around children, so started volunteering my free time in the school's marketing department and secured a role with them the following Spring. I haven't looked back since.
What were the reasons behind working for yourself when you were made redundant?
For me, it was very much linked to how I was feeling at the time. I'd actually started thinking about working for myself whilst in the job I was made redundant from. I'd had a day of set backs at work, feeling like I was making no progress and just being fed up of the people I was working with, so I started thinking about what I loved to do and turned it into a business plan. I knew I was good at helping businesses with social media and I had experience in digital marketing, so it made sense. I was carrying a lot of bitterness when I was made redundant, even though the job I'd had wasn't fulfilling me, so to have this back up plan felt like a win for me.
When you decided to move back into employment, what were the main reasons?
My biggest reason to change was money in all honesty. I got to the point where I was worrying about money and watching every penny go out the door. It wasn’t the way I wanted to live anymore so I decided I needed to return to the stability of full-time work.
How did you decide what to do instead?
I knew I wanted to stay in marketing, so it was a case of seeing what was out there. I applied for several jobs, but the one at Keter came at the perfect time and I liked the sound of the company and the role.
What is it like to work in Marketing?
Marketing is a varied profession and looks slightly different depending on the company you work for. One of the reasons I love what I do is because of that variety. In the school, marketing was predominantly looking after the website, liaising with the press to get good coverage and designing brochures. In my current role, marketing is looking after social media channels, working with agencies on marketing campaigns and updating our ecommerce platforms. At the heart of marketing is communication, so that is the recurrent theme of all the work.
Where did you start when it came to actually making the change?
I started by updating my CV, looking for jobs online and applying for them. I also started making plans to wind down my business and thinking about handover for my part-time job.
How did you actually make the change? (training, finances, learning etc)
I had made a commitment to my part-time job until March and my new role was due to start in the January. I negotiated to do both roles together for those three months before starting full-time with Keter in March. That made the transition back into full-time work much easier for me.
What were /are the biggest challenges? (internal and external!)
I was so glad to have found the role that I didn’t find there were many challenges externally. I got used to commuting again and enjoyed the interaction with colleagues in the office (pre-Covid-19). I think my main challenge was that inner voice that told me I was a failure for quitting my business. I’d had various coaches work with me on my business and telling me I could be making £5,000 a month but I don’t think I believed that. The more I talked to other business owners about their situation, the more I realised that most people don’t make their millions in the first few years of business and it’s a lot of hard graft to make it work.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think I spent my early career feeling dissatisfied when a role became easy for me to do but, instead of approaching my manager about it, I’d think the thing to do was to look for another job. I’d tell that younger self to keep the dialogue open with your boss so they can support you in your development. Sometimes, the only option is to move on but there are jobs in my past where I know now that I could have developed internally if I’d talked about it with my manager.
How has life changed?
Life has changed a lot this year for many of us due to Covid-19 but I’ve also had personal changes in my life like moving house and getting used to working from home full-time. I’m enjoying creating my own routine without the commute and I’ve given more focus to looking after my mental health this year, which is always beneficial.
What do you miss about your previous line of work?
I met some inspiring people through my business and I miss the regular meet ups and networking we did to catch up but I’ve stayed in touch with most of them which has been positive.
What hopes do you have for your future?
I hope to always be learning, both professionally and personally.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to find and pursue a career/job they love?
Look at where you are at the moment and work out if there are any opportunities to learn about that job in your current role. For instance, if you work in an admin role and want to get involved in marketing, volunteer some time to help the marketing team in your company. Giving your time is always a great way to learn about a different role.
What does success mean to you now?
Success to me means being happy with the life you live. To me it’s not about the next promotion or achievement, it’s that inner peace you have within you - an intuitive knowing that you are on the right path.
I love sharing resources! Are there any resources such as books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc that you'd recommend for people figuring out what they want to do for work and/or getting started?
For mindset and getting started:
- Read Stop Thinking, Start Living by Richard Carlson
- Read S.U.M.O. by Paul McGee
For marketing and creative work:
- Read Hack the Buyer Brain by Kenda McDonald
- Read We First by Simon Mainwaring
- Listen to The Creative Venture Podcast by Mark Levien - https://www.sound-designed.com/thecreativeventurepodcast
Where can people find / follow you?
You can connect with me on LinkedIn (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/emmawilberforce) or find my nature-inspired posts on Instagram @365_dayswild