Collette Philip is the founder of Brand by Me, a strategy consultancy working with businesses and people to identify their purpose and translate this into compelling brand and strategy that drive business goals and social impact.
What drove you to start your own business?
I reached a point in my career where I was outgrowing the roles I was in and I was becoming frustrated at the lack of opportunity to progress and move up wherever I worked. But I realised this was not down to the organisations, but just because I had a vision that was bigger than the organisations I worked for and so it was time to start-up on my own and truly live my purpose.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
I’ve spent about 16 years working on, for or with brands, both in-house and for agencies. I’ve worked across commercial and charity sectors and built brands for household names as well as worthwhile causes and it was this breadth of experience that allowed me to set up business for myself.
Tell us about the business planning stage.
I (obviously) started by mapping out my brand strategy – thinking about my purpose and the impact I want to have in the world. I also went to a free startup event by WENTA – a non-profit organisation providing business advice and support. This was useful for some of the more practical elements of business set up. I actually found gov.uk an invaluable resource in terms of business support.
I do have a rough business plan (supported by a very robust financial plan!!) but because my business is new, it’s still evolving all the time, so the business plan can’t necessarily keep up with the opportunities! So I use my brand strategy as the anchor to keep me focussed and also to provide clarity on why I’m doing things – I do practise what I preach!
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
I have a five-year vision, a 12 month plan and I set three-month goals. On a practical basis, I use Trello (an app) as my project management tool to keep me on track. I also have a BRILLIANT coach I met through the Aspire Foundation (a mentoring organisation that matches commercial sector mentors with women who work in the non-profit sector) who keeps me focussed and energised.
Can you describe a typical working day?
There’s no such thing! Seriously, that’s what I love – the fact that each day is different. On any given day I’ll be running in-house workshops and brainstorms with clients, meeting people for 121 consultations, attending or speaking at networking and brand events or creating strategy documents and guidelines and planning. And so much more…
What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?
It’s all been amazing. I can’t pick a specific day – I just feel blessed that I get to do what I love each and every day (and people pay me for it :-))
What has been your scariest moment?
I think the move from a regular pay cheque and fixed organisational structure to totally going it alone is always scary, but I’m loving the flexibility and freedom which offsets the inevitable fear.
How do you work on making your business grow?
So far, I get business via word of mouth and my connections, but I enjoy talking to people about what I do and once they understand it, they can often see how I can help. I also keep an eye on trends that affect brands and see how I can translate this into my consultancy offer based on previous expertise. I really like looking for new opportunities to take what I do into a new sector or area.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
Freedom, flexibility and the control I have over the impact I can make – my priority is making a difference in the world and now the only thing in the way is me! So I try not to get in my own way 🙂
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them?
I hate early starts so because I’m not forced to start at a specific time if I’m not out at clients, I’ve had to develop a strict morning routine involving a 7 minute workout app every day so I can hit the ground running and make the most of the day.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
I recently met Dr Yvonne Thompson and she was so inspiring in terms of my business journey – as a black woman, working in the record industry, she set up her own business when she faced roadblocks instead of opportunity and I admire both her journey and leadership approach – as well as everything she’s achieved.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
I really love the TED talk “how great leaders inspire action” by Simon Sinek – it changed the way I view brands and the way I think, which led me to what I do now.
What are the 3 books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
The One Minute Manager meets the Monkey by Ken Blanchard – amazing book on time management. Lead like Jesus – also by Ken Blanchard – v innovative take on leadership using Jesus as the example (I think it works even if you’re not religious). And I’m loving the Instagram account @thefemalebosslife for daily inspiration.
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
I love dancing – so attend classes, workshops and generally take any opportunity I can to learn a new dance style. My favourite styles are Bollywood and street/hip hop but I recently tried tap dancing and really enjoyed it!
What’s the future of brand?
Good question. It’s definitely not new thinking but the role of purpose and importance of being a purpose-driven business will just increase as the world becomes more competitive, as people become more demanding but also as there ceases to be a distinction between commercial and charity activity. I’ve read a lot that people increasingly expect that it should be possible to make money and do social good and I think this is probably what the world needs to happen. Social responsibility is just that – it’s all of our responsibility and duty, not a one-off project or part-time occupation, and I think brands have a vital role in making this happen.
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