Martina Quinn from Alice PR & Events tells us her story as well as passing on useful advice to potential entrepreneurs. Alice PR & Events provide clients with creative events, media relation services and online communications aimed at connecting clients with their target audience.
Martina grew up on a farm just outside Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Left Tipperary at 18 to move to Dublin to study journalism in DCU. After she graduated Martina worked as a freelance journalist. She became editor of Public Affairs Ireland for a short period, moved into an external communications role with the National Charity and then on to a PR agency in the private sector. She spent 8 years with the agency, starting at account manager level and moved up the ranks to executive director level, making her second in command to the owner of the company.
Reasons for starting a business
Martina had reached a stage in her career where she felt she wanted to work for herself rather than somebody else. Her experience in PR had given her lots of ideas she would like to try in her new business.
Getting my first sales
Martina left her job impulsively without any plans for her new business. She initially started freelancing and doing consultancy work. She then moved from consultancy to setting up a limited company. It was kindness of others who went out of their way to give her referrals that helped her get her first clients. This made Martina realise the value of her network which she acknowledges she isn’t naturally brilliant at developing.
She also highlights the importance of online networking. Some of her the biggest contracts have come from online networking. For example, when Martina left her job she posted on Linkedin, facebook and twitter that she was leaving her job to work for herself. A women she was connected to on Linkedin but had not met in person contacted her about a project she was too busy to take on herself. She recommended Martina for the project collaborating with a company based in London called the Honey Partnership.
What do you wish you would have known when you started?
“.. I wish I had invested more time in the administrative side of things. Particularly finding a good accountant who was really responsive to my needs and met my needs.”
Martina talks about making the mistake of working with an accountant who was very old school. She prefers to do everything online but they did everything in a very paper based way. The initial accountants were more focused on traditional businesses like retail.
The relationship lasted 6 months until Martina was able to find a more forward thinking accounting practice. They came to her with solutions and had online tools to make it easier to manage the administrative side of the business. For example, you don’t need to keep paper files, you just file them through an app and send them on to the accountant for processing.
It cost Martina a lot of time by not putting the research in at the beginning and finding a firm that matched her needs from the start.
What advice would you give to potential entrepreneurs?
“Go for it”
Martina never planned to be a business owner. She started off without having a plan for her new venture. “If you’re in the services industry you don’t need lots of money to get started” She has very few overheads. She says it is hard work but the enjoyment you get from working for yourself, from employing others and generating income for the wider economy is huge.
“It is something I would have always regretted if I didn’t do it”