Getting to know you: Helen Duncan

What do you currently do?

I’m Managing Director of Fig Creative, an integrated, creative, design, and marketing agency, supporting and helping small businesses grow through more targeted, consistent marketing activities. We do everything for our clients, from branding and messaging, running PR and marketing campaigns, designing and building effective websites and managing our clients’ social and content marketing requirements.

What is your inspiration in business? I’d describe myself as a ‘doer’ rather than a ‘fluffy’ marketeer. My passion, and what gets me out of bed every morning is the desire to see what we collectively do as a team have a direct impact on our clients’ businesses. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing their businesses grow, taking on more staff, launching new products, driving into new markets, winning awards, getting coverage in the press for their achievements….we just love it all.

Who do you admire?
I suppose my inspirations in business have always been the entrepeneurs such as Richard Branson and Michelle Mone. Both are big characters and have led very much from the front. They’ve made so many mistakes but have never been afraid to pick themselves back up and go on to the next thing. But more realistically I admire all my clients who are business owners. No matter what size of business you are, it takes a lot of guts, passion and determination to run a business and to really stick your neck out and go for it. I never underestimate what they are going through when times get tough or they’re thrown a curve ball, which is possibly why I am so keen to help them succeed.

Looking back would you have done things differently?
No. And that’s not saying I’ve not made mistakes becasuse I’ve made plenty! Haven’t we all! But I learnt from those mistakes and moved on. My business has been an amazing journey and as a woman in business, I have loved the flexibility it has given me to ‘have it all’. I only set the business up after having my first child so it was a challenge from day one, and I went on to have another two children so it became even more challenging. But that’s the reason I kept the business at a size that was manageable with three young children without impacting on all our lives. It was only when the children reached their teens did I think, ok, now let’s do something exciting with this business, and I am doing. Our team has grown to 17 in the last year, having taken on 8 new staff in just 2014 so we’re now in a position to really maximise our growth potential. That’s very exciting, and a bit scary too!

What defines your way of doing business?
We’re a family business with real family ethics. I treat my customers and my staff the way that I would like to be treated and on the whole that has faired us very well. I’ve got a fantastic team, who work really hard and are as passionate as me about their customers and what they do for them. We collectively celebrate the successes of our clients, and those of our own and we share the times when it can get difficult, when deadlines are piling up.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Be very clear about what you want, but do not be frightened to change that view, because it will, and it can, over time. Surround yourself with good people and good advisors. If something goes wrong, have a moan then pick yourself up and carry on. And above all never forget to market your business! Yes I would say that wouldn’t I, but I truly believe it. You would be surprised how many businesses invest lots of money on staff, equipment, premises but forget to allocate a budget for marketing! In our competitive world, how are people going to find you and do business with you? If you haven’t got big budgets then be creative and very targeted, don’t waste your marketing spend trying to communicate with everyone. If it’s not your thing, bring in the experts, it will pay off in the long run, believe you me!