Alex Hill of Cambie + Co
With the If We Can You Can Challenge set to return for its tenth year, BQ is meeting some of 2018's entrants. First up, we're catching up with Alex Hill of Cambie + Co to find out about her business and why she is entering the competition.
What did you do before setting up your business?
I was an academic who couldn’t see past a textbook! I did my A levels in 2016 and went off to the University of York in autumn 2016 to study English Literature – what I had always wanted to do. Two months in, I had an ‘epiphany’ and realised that university wasn’t going to fulfil me – although I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career.
I dropped out, and found a job working in a social media training company, where I learned how to manage business’ social media accounts and run campaigns. Five months later, I was very suddenly made redundant, and on the same day I was made redundant, I set up my company.
What inspired you to set up your business?
It was less of an ‘inspired’ thing and more of an impulse thing after I was made redundant, although I do believe there were many things in the months leading up to launching my company that did influence my decision. I was reading a lot of books including Tim Ferris and Karren Brady’s autobiography, and had quickly developed an interest in business, investment, and marketing. Even when I was stuck in an academic bubble, I knew I wanted to do something huge, impactful, and incredible, but had no idea what that thing was, and I think all of these things joined the jots together! I was also inspired when seeing young entrepreneurs in their teens and twenties succeeding in business, and seeing all they had achieved at such a young age – I wanted to do the same thing.
What makes this business different?
The last thing that I ever wanted my business to become is a ‘traditional marketing agency’. I am inspired by my own generation and the way we interact, communicate and engage online. In fact, I bring millennials to the forefront of everything I do. All of my team members are millennials – from undergraduates to graduates, and people like me who didn’t go to university/dropped out. I believe that we have an advantage in that we have grown up with social media at our fingertips and have witnessed first hand its growth, successes, failures, triumphs and mistakes, along with the opportunities that come with it – whether these are influencers, brands, or even Youtubers.
What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?
I was inspired before I had even set up my business, and when the opportunity came up this year, I jumped for it! After a year of running my business, I feel that I’m ready to take the next step and really reach high, and I feel like this competition is the perfect opportunity to do that.
Where do you see your business in three years’ time?
I see the business as having grown exponentially, with a number of amazing team members involved and striving for further success. I would love to have been a part of a number of amazing start-ups on their social media journey, and been a part of marketing teams for game-changing impactful campaigns. On a personal level, I would like to have embarked on other projects too (a second business) as well as having been involved in other start-ups and businesses – whether that is through marketing or on a board.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
Seeing what I have done in such a short space of time and at such a young age. Despite all the failures, mistakes and mess-ups I have made, in the long run, this has all put me in good stead for a successful future. The way I see not just business, but the world, now, is totally different to how I saw things a year ago. I spoke at a young entrepreneur’s conference last month in London, and I had so many young people – as young as 15/16 – coming up to me and telling me how inspiring my talk was and asking me for advice. It was completely mind-blowing as I was that age only a matter of a couple of years ago, and I couldn’t believe I was actually being seen as a ‘role model’ for these kids. That was definitely very rewarding.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Learning things the hard way. I would be sugar-coating things massively if I said that the last year was not full of mistakes, failures, and total mess-ups. I have gained clients, and I have lost clients. I have had amazing successes, and I have had tremendous failures. I don’t think I was prepared for how tough things can get when you’re starting up a business, whether that’s financially, mentally, or emotionally. I swore to myself after being made redundant last year that I would never go into employment again, and in March this year, I had to find a part time job to sustain myself when I was going through a bad patch. This was incredibly challenging as I felt like a complete failure, but I realise now that it’s all just part of the journey.
What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?
Don’t be afraid of going back to work if you have to. If you are like me when I was setting up my business and believe that you’re going to make money instantly, you’re probably wrong. I learned that the hard way – the first year was essentially a trial run for me, the perfect opportunity to make all my mistakes and fail at a bunch of stuff. I think this time around, I am much more prepared to take this business where it deserves to be.
Deadline for entries is 16th October 2018, apply here
Tickets are now online for the ‘Ones to Watch’ live final on 26th October at Teesside University, click here to regsiter.
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