Pivot with purpose - why I now work from home as a freelance consultant
Here is my story. Perhaps it will inspire you to pivot with purpose too.
I started my PR agency Cred Communications in Hong Kong in 2010 as I wanted to keep my public relations and communications skills and knowledge up to date and globally relevant. I also always wanted to run my own business. I had no plans to build a big agency with lots of employees across many different countries. I just wanted to do good work with a good team and help my clients to be successful.
While I enjoy taking risks, I didn't want to be foolish with money. I had no investors in Cred other than my own ambition and hard work. I also had never worked in an agency before, but I had the belief in my own abilities and goals and had hired many agencies when I worked in-house, so I knew what my clients needed. I kept my talented team small, and latterly we worked from a co-working space where we could scale up and down as and when we needed to. Co-working also provided contemporary and comfortable surroundings for my team, state of the art printers, fast internet, meeting rooms, not to mention great coffee! It was a win-win situation. We also outsourced many services, such as photographers, designers, writers, and videographers, so we chose the best people depending on the client brief and paid them when we needed them.
We always kept the number of clients below 10 to maintain a quality of service similar to the large global agencies and ensure that I was always involved in the campaign, which was vitally important to me. Earlier this year, I noted that new business enquiries were way down from 2-3 a week to 0 for several weeks (they have just recovered after 10 months), and existing clients were canceling press events. This hit us financially. As someone who is always focused on the media landscape, risk management, researching the market, and forecasting for my clients and myself - I looked forward, and it did not look promising. Our co-working space went into liquidation due to the market situation. When two team members handed in their notices, I decided not to replace the posts. We were then forced to work from home due to Covid, so there was no point moving to a new office. We no longer had an office and the same number of projects as before, so sadly, I had to let our part-time office manager go. In March, I let the final Account Executive go with an option to return once the market improved, but thankfully, she found another job.
Pivoting with Purpose
At the same time, our website for Cred Communications was hacked. Having hidden behind the agency name for too long, I decided that this was a huge sign that after 24 years, I needed to put my own name forward and create a new different consultancy called Mandy Queen PR. I applied my own MQPR Communications Programme and worked on my mission, vision, and values (which you can find on my home page), and created the tagline Expert Communications that Get Results. The tagline was a brave move, but I had proven time and time again that my strategic campaigns got BIG results for my clients, and I was now an expert. I added a crown to the logo as it related to my name.
It is always important to find an opportunity in every challenging situation. While there have been many challenges this past year, I had faced many ups and downs from running an agency in the world's most expensive city over the past ten years, so I was already pretty resilient and adaptable.
Surviving and thriving
We had always worked within the cloud and used the latest technological innovative tools to manage reporting, collaboration, accounting, file-sharing, and other business operations. Using tech tools and cloud strategy, keeping the business small and agile, renting co-working spaces, outsourcing many services, I could pivot to working from home as a consultant smoothly. Remote working has become the norm globally, and I am grateful that my trusted clients transitioned with me.
My key values and goals remain the same - keeping my communications skills and knowledge up to date to help my clients become successful. By working as a consultant, I am now closer to my clients than ever and directly provide much more strategic advice. I have also added a few more services to my repertoire due to personal passions, including support for new in-house communications managers (having been there and done that for many years in the UK and at the time struggled to find resources) and my MQPR programme for Women in Business. I still work with my freelance service providers, and I may employ talent again in the future, but it's my trusted excellent freelance partners and me for now.
When one door closes, another one opens. Working from home to my own schedule is a gift. No travel time. No expensive overheads. Untethered from the 9 to 6. By working remotely, I also now have the freedom to work from wherever. Currently, I am in Hong Kong.