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Jenny Knighting

Female Founder Spotlight: Jenny Knighting

25 April 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder

Meet the Successful Founder: Jenny Knighting
Meet the Successful Founder: Jenny Knighting

Confidence: “The feeling or belief that one can rely on something or someone”. An interesting emotion, so flimsy and uncertain yet fundamental, in my opinion, to starting a business. To be able to have an innate belief that your vision will be successful, that it will work, is the starting block to founding any business. 

Championing women within business is one of the founding principles of my own business. This has been reinforced through the last seven years of running Nutcracker as CEO, and long before that in managing lots of women. Confidence is often the biggest hurdle that women face. The belief that their skills are good enough, that they are good enough is something that I have to coach and reinforce time and time again. Once this belief is cemented, once confidence becomes integral to their being, that is when the freedom to accomplish their full potential takes shape.

In my opinion the reason why confidence is so critical is that you need it to safeguard against fear. Fear is one of the biggest threats to either a start-up taking place in the first instance and of it being successful. The noisy world of ‘What ifs?’ Always ending in the negative. What if it fails? What if I have no money? What if it I’m not up to it? There is such a lot of noise drowning out rational calculated odds. This irrationality is based on a thirsty need to predict the future, it overwhelms, finding only negative reinforcement. The reinforcement of ‘I wouldn’t do that’, ‘Sounds risky’, ‘I wouldn’t want the stress’ or ‘You will miss out on life’. 

All words I have heard countless times over the last seven years. All words I have ignored.

Nutcracker was founded seven years ago this May, founded on a whim – but a whim based on a deep-rooted knowledge that it would happen, born many years before, a whim based on an extremely successful commercial career spanning the previous 17 years. My belief in what I wanted to do, and why it was important to me, was by far the most powerful, the most overwhelming feeling of all. I couldn’t understand why I would fail. I had sold and marketed countless products before Nutcracker – why would I not be able to do the same for my own business?

I wanted to create a successful sales and marketing agency that, in my opinion, did things properly. It spoke the right language, understood commercial success, and understood how to effectively sell through powerful, well-executed marketing. Eight awards and over 50 clients later, it is fair to say that Nutcracker has achieved all of this and more.

What do I feel is essential in being a success in your chosen field? Having a deep-rooted passion for what you do, having a steadfast knowledge base and being very aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. If your aspiration is to be more than a one-man band – no one person can do it all, nor should they – then sooner rather than later you will need to recruit talented and competent people. The arrogant starting point of believing that you can be the only solution not only devalues other important skill sets that your business will need, but hinders growth in a dramatic way.

Meet the Successful Founder: Jenny Knighting
Meet the Successful Founder: Jenny Knighting

I have been called many things through my successful sales career: ‘Dog of war’ (still don’t get that one), ‘Sell sand to a desert’, ‘Weave a magic spell’, but at the heart of it is that I really understand the sales psychology; the reason why people buy. Once you understand a business’s need – and to do that you must be able to listen and have empathy – marketing or selling a product becomes a much easier process. I have always loved selling things, from cakes at school through to my first Saturday job at 15 in a delicatessen and at Currys – at the age of 17, during the school summer holidays, I quickly became one of their highest performing salespeople. Why? Years of competitive team sport and a confidence-instilling dad made me never doubt for one second that I could sell washing machines as effectively as my senior-in-age colleagues. Post university, that belief carried me through launching events, growing businesses, implementing award-winning marketing strategies, and delivering exponential growth.

The world of marketing has changed fundamentally in the digital age, all of which has taken place during my career of the 25 years. It has evolved from a combination of faxbacks, coupled with the phone, into a much more sophisticated need to really understand personas and the whole 360-degree opportunity of reaching your target customer. With digital there is nowhere to hide. If you send 10,000 direct mail letters you cannot measure how many people have read them, engaged with them, or sent them directly to recycling. Digital accountability exposes marketing in an exciting way – it gives you knowledge on what works and more importantly what doesn’t, helping you shape your message into something that cannot be ignored.

The online world is noisy, the marketing world is noisy, packed full of people professing to have an art for crafting powerful messaging, packed full of people who don’t really understand it, who sit on the surface, ticking off a list, who damage marketing’s reputation. Powerful marketing is so much more than a list, it is to understand how to genuinely unearth a connection and then to deliver the message in a way that cannot be ignored, in a way which provokes a response.

One of Nutcracker’s unique strengths is that it works across multiple sectors on a range of different products and services. What you learn from this multi-industry approach is invaluable, it allows you to hone your skills and just get better and better. What do all our clients have in common? A passion for their businesses and an insatiable desire to grow. Passion needs to meet passion. If you are going to become part of somebody’s team as an outsourced marketing arm you need to work with like-minded people who love what they do and love seeing commercial results. With our integration into our clients’ mindset we work seamlessly as a team. Nutcracker works with a wide range of clients, from small start-ups through to scaling up mid-size businesses who are driving on to the next stage of growth.

Nutcracker’s success comes from its culture. A culture based on not settling for second best, constantly reviewing and refining our approach, in analysing data and, most importantly, hard work. Nutcracker’s team is, in my opinion, the most talented team out there. This talent becomes ever more successful by being empowered, by feeling confident in having the space and freedom to use that fantastic talent in result driven ways. We do not stop until we have achieved what we set out to do. 

Ultimately, I am a big believer in positivity breeding positivity, in success breeding success. Banish the negative mindset and that is when the magic happens.


Twitter: @NutcrackerSM

Instagram: @nutcrackeragency

LinkedIn: @NutcrackerAgency