Startup Diary: Lisa Benson: From Actress to Social Media Guru

I'm 36 and never had a "real job" as such. I'm an actress and creative type so I've always flitted between jobs when there has been little or no acting work (which has been often). My perception of a proper job is one where you sit at a desk for 8, 9, 10 hours a day clock watching, being told what to do whilst exchanging time for money! I've taken up lots of temp jobs over the years just to make ends meet, one of which was for a PR company where i made tea/coffee, photocopied documents and generally helped out around the office.

I did this on and off for 7 years and then questioned myself and asked where was it leading? There was a realisation that something had to change. The acting jobs were few and far between and I knew that I was responsible for the change that I wanted to see. I was getting bored of hearing “When are you going to get a ‘proper’ job?” But what would I do?

I’d noticed from my time in the PR office that the way people were communicating was starting to change, everything was moving online, we sent out fewer press releases by post and talked less on the phone in favour of emailing and transferring files online. Then came the introduction of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and lots of other social media channels. It was scary times and unless they embraced this new form of communication the PR office would get left behind.

Being a bit of a Luddite and more comfortable learning a script I nervously decided to take the plunge into the world of online communication to see what is was all about.

Was it just a fad, a passing phase? Outside of the temp jobs I attended courses on ‘How to Tweet’ and ‘Is it important to be ‘liked’ on Facebook?’ etc. I even did a course on blogging and even though it was daunting I was beginning to understand the impact these tools could have on a business. I’ve never dreamt of having my own business as I’ve always been a free spirit and didn’t want to be tied or committed to anything, however seeing how people were communicating in this ‘new and social’ way really excited me and i wanted to shout about it so everyone could get involved too.

So, I bought a MAC! It was shiny, new and could do lots of wonderful things, which were totally lost on me! Thankfully I had very patient friends who were willing to teach this Luddite a thing or two!

After lots of help, patience from friends, online courses and a great learning curve I decided to set up my own company this year called Digital Surgeon, it exists to help get businesses and people online who are as fearful of embracing change as I was.

I now have a small team that work with me to create social media profiles for small businesses so they can shout about what they do and tell the world how great their businesses are.

I still do bits of acting when the opportunity arises but having my own business online has really helped me embrace technology and it's great to be able to provide people with the tools and opportunity to shout about their own business too!

I've attached a link to my website (which I've built myself!!!) it's taken me years but I got there in the end! For any of you ladies out there sitting on the wire thinking about taking the it!

Based in London, Lisa Benson started her career as an actress touring with theatre companies, performing in documentaries, commercials, films and music videos. Whilst becoming disillusioned with the temp jobs in-between acting jobs and waiting for the phone to ring Lisa decided to create her own business Digital Surgeon. Lisa's team of web developers, designers and online marketing experts teach, empower and support small to medium sized businesses (or SMEs) to leverage social media. For more information about Lisa, see her profile. 

Startup Diaries is a new section of our website where founders can post their startup stories in blog form, describing their entrepreneurial journey; the challenges and highlights, eureka moments, lessons learned and laughs had along the way. The idea is to build a collection of first person anecdotes from women building businesses, as a resource for other female founders. Our favourite Startup Diary blogs will be posted on our home page. If you would like to write a Startup Diary, email our Editor for details.

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