Changing Direction: From British Airways to founder of Small Made Mighty
Charlotte Driscoll of Small Made Mighty was made redundant. Far from let it beat her, it was the impetus for starting up her own marketing company…
I had been working for British Airways for over 5 years before I was put on furlough due to Covid in March 2020. That in itself wasn’t a shock, and I used the time to take a breath of fresh air. A long commute made Monday to Friday a real slog and I rarely had time for much more than work and sleep during the week! The longer the furlough rolled on and our knowledge of the impact on the travel industry widened, I anticipated redundancy so I started planning for the worst. And it happened! The process was long which gave me plenty of time to accept it and plan for my future. I have no dependents, but equally no one to support me in the face of losing my income, so it was an incredibly scary prospect.
I now run a marketing consultancy called Small Made Mighty. We specialise in marketing strategy and execution for small, micro and new businesses. I specifically wanted to target businesses that might need support in the face of Covid, but I have ended up with a slightly broader mix than that.
How it happened
I spoke to quite a few business owners in my local community and the Covid impact couldn’t have been more different. Some thriving from a solid online presence, some really, really struggling. And there I was, on my way to spend yet another day walking along the beach! So I decided to see if I could match up my skill-set with businesses that needed marketing support. The initial outlay was minimal in comparison with some businesses as I am in a service industry and essentially selling my time. I put together a brand identity, website, email address and a few simple pieces of home-office equipment, and I was away!
I never thought that I would be able to go it alone… but my mum was in the same position after redundancy about 10 years ago. She set up her own business off the back of her redundancy and has never looked back. I am incredibly proud of everything she has achieved and she knows the position I’m in – and me – very well. She gives me encouragement and strength. I also have an incredibly supportive wider family who are there to give the little bit of extra moral support if ever I’m wavering!
My day is now heavenly!!! The lack of commute means I have won back more than 4 hours in a day, every day. So I tend to go for a run first thing, and then get started early. I find I’m way more productive than working in an office so I get through my daily workload in good time. My clients need support at evenings and weekends, but since it’s my own business, I’m more than willing to exchange that for the odd weekday afternoon off!
Focus and challenges
I’m a pretty determined person so when I put my mind to something, it usually happens… but there were a few hurdles that I wasn’t expecting. Firstly, negative thinkers… people who kept sending me ‘helpful’ job vacancies when they knew I had just launched my business. I read that as them thinking I wouldn’t succeed. I also (still) find asking for money hard – charging for time and not over-delivering. But I’m working on that!
Although I am working full-time, It will take a while before my salary meets what I was earning at BA. That’s my first step. Once I get there, I will have learnt a fair bit and my business will have developed organically. I’ll know more about which clients are most suitable for me and which ones I want to be actively targeting to grow.
The most reassuring thing for me, was to work out the minimal income I could live off whilst I was getting the business up and running. I didn’t push too hard, too fast and so was able to maintain a good, consistent momentum. I was also given a crucial piece of advice myself which has completely changed my outlook on business. Consider it like building a house. Everyday, you add a few bricks. If one day, one falls down, you still have the rest of the wall and you just carry on building more tomorrow.
Think more positively about things that didn’t go right. Nothing is a disaster. It’s a learning, and when you wake up again tomorrow, you carry on building. Persistency is really important.