NextAdvisor Lisa Malyon: If You Don't Know How To Do Something, Find Someone Who Can!

Lisa was only 28 when she started her own independent PR and marketing agency.Lisa Malyon is one of the NextAdvisors signed up to advise our community in our Business Advice Programme.

Lisa has fast-tracked her way through London’s PR and Marketing industry after graduating as a journalist in Leicester. Lisa was identified as a strong performer in B2C and B2B communications, enabling her to gain a wealth of experience that spans a global brand portfolio (100+) across retail, energy, leisure, licensed trade, motoring, travel, media and telecoms sectors.

Lisa’s client portfolio includes: British Gas, Shell, Facebook, eBay, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, O2, House of Fraser, Thorntons, Diageo, Nissan, Freesat, Ikea, Emirates, adidas, AVG, KFC, Disney, TalkTalk, Budgens and many more.

Lisa is ready to start advising you on your business. For more details on The Business Advice Programme and to sign up, click here

Lisa was headhunted to join an Anglo-Czech agency in Prague, where, after six months, she decided to return to the UK and start her own independent PR and marketing agency – aged 28.

Two years on, Sense Communications is home to a team of fantastic consultants, who are generating a healthy monthly turnover.

TNW: Tell us about your current role/venture. What’s at the top of your mind with regard to your business?

LM: The major next step for Sense is to expand the team. We’ve just won two rather sizeable accounts, which means our current workload will more than double in 2014. Our team is quite small, and perfectly formed – we have a lot of giggles, and we learn together as a team every day. It’s time to invite more great people in to help us deliver fantastic results in 2014. 
 
TNW: Which business topics are you most interested in providing advice on?
 
LM: 

Starting and running a business effectively suddenly means that you have no choice but to become an expert in all areas of business – or at least appear to know what you’re on about.

There are a few areas that I’d love to support others on:

  • Building confidence – Starting a business at 28 is not easy. The people around me, although they smiled and looked on, I always thought were doubting me. As soon as I shook that off, and concentrated on doing what I’m good at, I had the physical evidence to show I should never be doubted, by anyone.
  • Securing new business – A lot of people ask me where our clients come from, and do we advertise. After I’ve hit them over the head with my metaphorical mallet (we’re a PR agency, of course we don’t advertise), I advise them that all our new business comes through networking and word-of-mouth.
  • Effective communications – If I asked you to draw a circle inside a square, you could do it in a number of ways. By understanding that everyone has a different interpretation of what you say, what you say becomes so incredibly important.  
  • Building a business – The best advice I read a few years ago was ‘if you don’t know how to do something, find someone who can’. We work with a range of specialists that enable us to deliver integrated marketing and PR solutions. I always wish I could do what they do, but I have to remind myself that there are only 24 hours in a day!  

TNW: How should a NextAdvisee approach their relationship with you, to get the best out of you?
 
LM: I pride myself on being a very real, down to earth, kind person with an open door policy.

My best business relationships have been built on openness, honesty, and most importantly, respect. I can’t stand time-wasters.

Most of my meetings come out of a quick email exchange to work out a good time and place. It’s amazing how much I can tell about a person from that initial email.
 
TNW: What do you see as the benefits of an advice relationship, for the advisor?
 
LM:

Giving advice to others creates a reason and opportunity for reflection on your own life, which is something I don’t get much of a chance to do.

I can count the people that have given me the best advice on one hand, and I would do anything (within reason) for them. I hope to make someone feel the same way about their relationship with me.
 
TNW: Do you currently have a mentor?
 
LM: I have one main mentor, and a few unofficial ones. Brendan Maye is a very intelligent ex-corporate businessman who owns the lavender fields down the road from our office.

He’s my first port of call for all things business. He never gives me answers, he gives me perspective, and food for thought. 

My unofficial mentors are my Dad, he used to take me out to work as his builder’s apprentice, aged seven, and my brother-in-law who owns and runs a very successful company that services the recycling industry. I often ask myself ‘what would Nick do?’  

 TNW: Which business matters have you most needed advice on during your career?

LM: Creating a steady cash flow in year one was really tough. I asked my brother-in-law to give me one piece of advice two months after I started Sense. He said one word: ‘cash-flow’. I shrugged it off, and told myself that I’d be okay….7 months in, I was struggling to pay salaries. I will never forgot those hard times.

Knowing what to charge is hard. When I first started Sense I did some pro bono work, and some low-cost favours for friends and acquaintances.

When they asked me how much I charge for my time, I’d blush and say I’d email them once I’d worked it out. Why? Confidence. 

After a year of delivering amazing results, and seeing evaluations for some first-class campaigns go out the door, I just knew it was time. I downloaded a few service level agreement templates, created a fee calculator and started budgeting campaigns properly, to show the fee and costs involved. Wow, what a difference that made to our cash-flow.

Now that we’re being paid the right amount for the work that we’re doing, I can reward the team well for their hard work, and plan for the future of Sense.

TNW: What is the most useful lesson you have learned from a mentor?

LM: 

Ask questions. Don’t tell people what they are doing right or wrong, ask them how they think they’re doing.

They’ll identify the issues, making it much easier to swallow them and change.

TNW: Who would be your dream mentor in a fantasy world (they can be living or a historical figure)?

LM: 

 I have a lot of respect for people that make things happen.

I think Karren Brady would be a good mentor for me – she’s focused, determined and realistic, like me, but with much more experience. 

Lisa is ready to start advising you on your business. For more details on The Business Advice Programme and to sign up, click here

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