Caroline Sumners is the founder of marketing agency, Fifty One Degrees. With 18 years experience in marketing roles across multi-national corporations, Caroline helps SMEs to stand out in the market place with incentive travel & events planning, as well as social media management and marketing consultancy. Caroline has a degree in International Relations, has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and often shares her workspace with her Miniature Schnauzer, Rufus.
Entrepreneur Interview Q & A
1. What is your business/Business Name? What does your business do?
Fifty One Degrees helps small and medium-sized business grow using targeted, effective marketing strategies. We can provide marketing strategy, social media management, inbound marketing incentive travel, and events management services.
2. Why did you get into this field? What opportunities did you see?
I worked in marketing for a long time, both on agency and client side. Initially I started an incentive travel company, but I kept being asked by other business owners if I could help with marketing. It was a natural evolution to move the services of the company to be broader and to encompass and draw on the years of experience that I had.
3. What have been your biggest challenges?
Mindset and cash flow have by far been the biggest challenges to overcome. I never realized I would be so affected by self-doubt as to whether I could do this or not. Cash flow with any new business is always a challenge, but it really helps using services like Xero to be able to take control of your finances and have a clear picture all the time.
4. What has been your greatest reward?
Growing a business by myself from scratch and meeting some awesome people on the way. It takes a hell of a lot of determination, but I really feel like it is all worth it.
5. If you could change something, what would it be?
I’d probably have gotten a desk in a shared office space sooner. About a year ago – a year into my business – I took a space in a local co-working space, and it was the best thing I could have done. In a co-working space you are surrounded by like-minded people who are all in the same position as you, and they know when you need some support and help.
6. If you could give a new entrepreneur advice, what would it be?
Get a business “bestie” as soon as you can. One of the best things I did was get some accountability partners. We meet regularly, in person or over Skype, and just check in and push each other on. I feel so strongly about this that I just started a Business Besties Facebook group to give people that wider opportunity. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/259973134378975/)
7. Social Media. Yay or Nay?
A big fat YAY. It’s something that has really helped me grow my business, and I’ve seen my clients have some brilliant successes with social media.
8. How do you market your products?
I use an integrated digital marketing strategy to ensure that I get myself in front of clients and potential clients. Daniel Priestly talks about the need to ‘7/11/4’ your customers. Meaning, you need to have 7 hours, 11 touch-points in 4 locations with someone before they will know, like and trust you. That forms the basis of my marketing, so of course this means a combination of digital techniques – blog, social media, email, guest blogging, workshops and events (and I need to pluck up the courage for video).
9. Is your business a service or a product? If you are a product, how do you handle production?
It is a service.
10. What is unique about your business?
Well, I recently published a blog about what I stand for – I think it is really important to be clear about who are you are and what is important to you as a person and a business. At the end of the day it is a competitive world, but ultimately people still buy from people that they know, like and trust. You can check out my commitments here http://www.fiftyonedegrees.uk.com/what-do-you-stand-for/
11. Sell me your product/service.
We help small and medium-sized businesses grow using targeted, effective marketing strategies. Taking a best guess at how to market to your customers can only take your business so far. We can take a strategic view of your business, get a clear profile of your ideal client, and develop a mid to long term marketing plan that works for you and your budget. But in line with our own manifesto, we will only suggest things we would do if it were our own business. We have the experience and we will provide you with practical guidance and easy to implement suggestions
12. How can people get in touch with you? What’s your website/Contact information?
Access my free resource library for SMEs here: http://www.fiftyonedegrees.uk.com/resource-library/