Laura Bradley, founder of Sprout PR
How did you start your own business?
I was working in-house at a record label and made redundant, so I was presented with two options; do I work someone else or do I went set up on my own. It was a hard decision but it really felt right. I was lucky enough to take a client with me so I knew for the first 2 months of business I would at least have work and income.
My first business was called Invader Music and as well as PR it was also a record label. Recently I made another change as the music industry became harder to operate in and I needed to diversify. You need to be able to be flexible. I've rebranded and become Sprout PR. Invader still exists as a record label but I now focus on lifestyle, entertainment and food PR.
I currently live in Holland and my business has thrived by my being there. I stopped going out as much and focused more on work. I’m a lot more relaxed and I believe I do the best job for my clients, despite being in a different country.
Before you launched Sprout PR, did you do any development work?
More than I did when I started Invader as the areas of lifestyle and food PR were more new to me than music was. I needed to know my competitors so I researched into what others were doing. I was also a bit older and wiser so it was a more considered decision whereas with Invader I felt like I fell into it after the redundancy.
Have you worked with a mentor or coach at any point?
No, but my family is very entrepreneurial so I’ve always been surrounded by this mindset.
Where do you go for your own inspiration?
My inspiring group of friends, many of whom are entrepreneurs and have their own businesses. I think it is important to go out and find inspiration in things like art; one of the best things about working for yourself is that you can just go out to a gallery or a gig for ideas at any time.
I have such a great work life balance now. I trained to be a yoga teacher a few years ago, whilst running the business; something I would have struggled to do if I was working for someone else. I practice every day.
What do you love the most about running your own business?
Being in charge of everything and my hours. Flexibility; the fact I was able to go and live abroad. My boyfriend got a job transfer to Holland and because I work for myself meant we could just go. I feel so fortunate for this.
You are based over there but your clients and journalists are in the UK. How do you maintain your relationship with them?
The first thing I did was set up a UK Skype number because it gave the perception that I was in the UK. It's very important for existing clients and new business opportunities to know that you are there and available.
I made sure I communicated a lot with them and stayed very pro-active. I even set up meetings before they asked for one so that whilst I was in London (once every month) I could make sure I met with everyone.
How do you stay on top of goings on in the UK whilst you're overseas?
I read all the media; everything is online really. And I utilise my time carefully whilst I am in London, going to new openings etc. Social media is also great for me, especially for new business.
Did you set up Sprout as a sole trader?
Yes. I don’t think it's worth me going to a limited company.
How did you decide on the name Sprout PR?
After a couple of glasses of wine with my boyfriend in a bar, we brainstormed on a napkin. I asked a few friends for their thoughts too. It's like the sprouting of new ideas or a new brand.
Where do you work most of time?
Always at home. In the past I’ve rented desk space but I ended up at home anyway so it was a waste of money. I love cooking; I can put a stew on in the morning and it’s ready for dinner. Those small things make life so nice!
We also have a camper van and often travel around Europe. I've been away for four weeks in the past and still worked from my laptop... because I can.
As long as my clients get good PR results, they don’t care where I am working from.
Is there anything you miss about permanent employment?
Only the social aspect like Christmas parties... I actually get quite sad around that time, especially when I’m in London!
Any one piece of advice you would share?
Basically, just go for it. I would never go back to working for someone else. even though there's times when I might not know where the money will come from, I’ve never once wished I was going into an office job. Plus the longer you do it, the easier it is to identify the months when you'll be quiet and you can plan around it.
It gets better and better.