6 March 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Stefanie Hopkins is the founder and managing director of Faith PR with over 16 years of PR and marketing experience. German-born Stef is a modern languages graduate who fell in love with communications. She started her career in the industry at McCann Erikson Leeds working on behalf of Bentley Motors before beginning a PR role at full-service agency JDA. Stef has won several awards for herself as well as Faith PR, including Forward Ladies SME Emerging, Yorkshire Women of Achievement and 42 under 42 and numerous CIPR awards.
What would you love to share to encourage other women to start their own business?
Have confidence in yourself, your ideas, skills and experience. Don’t doubt yourself or wait for someone to give you permission. As an introvert, I never saw myself as a natural leader or having the necessary skills to run a business. People can make you feel small when starting to work on your dream of establishing yourself in business, especially in a male-dominated business environment. But over the years as I progressed from freelancer to small business owner, I realised you don’t need a loud or dominant personality to run a business successfully or have to ‘be’ a certain type of person. You can just be you, but you need to believe in what you do and be passionate about it. Also, keep in mind that you can set up and run your business in a way that works for you. There is no textbook for success. When it is your business, you make the rules. Accept that you will make mistakes, but you will learn invaluable lessons along the way.
What are your 5 top tips for entrepreneurial success?
People are key to your success.
Having employees as your number one cost of goods makes hiring and firing much more important and something you have to get good at managing or else, you’ll fail. Also, never hire friends! You can replace an underperforming employee, but have you ever tried replacing a friend-employee? Also, accept that your staff will leave at some point – you just do not know when. No matter how close you are to them, or how well the role suits them, they will move on because people change and sometimes ‘life’ forces you to move on even if you could never have predicted it. When they do leave, get upset but then move on. Turn their departure into a positive and recruit someone more experienced to move your business forward.
Communication with your team is key.
In line with the previous lesson, I have found that one of the best ways to a successful relationship with your team is to have open, honest, and frequent communication, however big or small.
I make sure that I share the business’ performance and aims and ambitions regularly. I’m very open and transparent about the numbers and how we make money – if my team don’t understand that, how can they add value?
Likewise, I’ve learnt it’s important to talk often and address the little things before they become too big an issue. Don’t wait until a performance appraisal – regular, more informal chats whether they’re over a coffee or in the car on the way to a client meeting can be more productive.
Nail your accounting.
As someone who has always been shocking at maths, I spent a long time avoiding anything to do with numbers, budgets and spreadsheets! But you can’t run a business successfully if you aren’t on top of your numbers.
So, I’ve learnt to make friends with spreadsheets and ensure I know our numbers inside out. I can’t plan or make important decisions affecting the business if I don’t know what our forecast is for the next quarter and beyond.
Don’t try to be all things to all people – stick to what you’re good at.
When you’re setting up in business it can be tempting to say ‘yes’ to every job just to get some revenue in. But doing so can backfire if you can’t deliver. Don’t say you can do everything when you don’t have the team, process, or proven results for that service.
As Warren Buffet famously once said; “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
So, before you say yes to that piece of work; is it worth the pain, hassle, cost (if you need to outsource it to someone who can do it) and tarnished reputation if you can’t deliver?
Make decisions that mean you can sleep on a night.
It can be hard running a business, no doubt about it. There are often big decisions to be made which can affect people’s careers and livelihoods. And while there is no easy way out for big problems, remember, there is always a decision to be made. Once you have made a decision, move on and deal with the next thing. If that decision turns out to be the wrong one, then make another decision to sort it out. By taking action you will feel more in control.
One principle I always try to adhere to when making decisions is whether I can explain them. People may not always like the decisions you make but hopefully, with insight and explanation, they can accept them.
Lastly, if you are stuck, the one thing that should help you determine a course of action is whether your decision, whatever it may be, ultimately benefits the business?
Who are the 5 women who inspire you the most?
There are plenty of celebs, famous people or historical figures I could name who may be admirable, but they’re so far removed from my life that I cannot claim they inspire me daily. The women that do inspire me are the ones that I know in ‘real life’; the working mothers, the single mums, the business owners, the sisters, the friends, the colleagues; all those who have challenged, shaped, and smashed the status quo and make a difference to the world, no matter how small.
What is your favourite saying/inspirational quote?
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Goethe.
Website & Socials