For the latest in our Meet the Successful Founder series, we caught up with entrepreneur, investor and digital marketing expert, Amanda Perry. She talks to us about her journey to success, the importance of thriving after failure, and what’s next for her fast-growth ecommerce agency.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I have a really wide and varied background – I started work at the age of 13 and have never been out of work since. I have worked in a number of industries but started my first business 15 years ago, which was really successful but grew too quickly and sadly ended with me having to declare bankruptcy. It’s definitely not something I ever thought I would have to face and following that, I had a period of really looking at what I had learnt, what I wanted to do, and what I was good at.
It was a challenging time trying to navigate my next steps, but it led me to start, scale and sell a number of ecommerce businesses. Whilst I’d had this big life change with my first business, I knew that I had the right approach to business and a real strength when it came to marketing. I’d done it before and I could do it again, and that’s how SOUP agency was born!
We’re based in Sheffield and specialise in digital marketing for ecommerce businesses. This includes paid social, influencer outreach, email marketing and so much more. We help brands supercharge their budgets and create the most scroll-stopping content.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Going through bankruptcy is tough, maybe even more so when the business you’ve built is actually really successful. I knew that I had it in me to do it again, so I started and sold a number of e-commerce businesses and really got my teeth stuck into the digital marketing side of scaling an online business. This soon attracted attention from other e-commerce businesses – and that was how SOUP came to life!
How did you achieve awareness?
I already had a network of e-commerce business owners from growing my own brands, so that gave some early traction. I started using Instagram to share advice and tips, which was a really great way to connect business owners, and I’ve now got over 18,000 followers who engage with me daily for advice on everything from paid social to business advice.
I also created a Facebook group for small businesses who wanted to learn how to run their own ads online, sharing my learnings and expertise. That group has since grown into The E-com Growth Hub where we teach around 600 small businesses how to grow their own revenue online through digital marketing.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
I am proud to say we have had zero funding and have 100% ownership of the business. SOUP’s growth has been entirely organic – helped by the e-com boom through the pandemic. Retaining this control has been really important to me as it’s meant that I can quickly adapt to the market, which has been crucial during these past 15 months.
What are the key successes?
We’ve had some amazing success for our clients; one online store alone has grown from making £1,000 per month to now over £150,000 per month. The power of strategic and targeted paid social and digital marketing really is endless. Added to that, we’ve helped The E-com Growth Hub members, collectively, generate over £15 million since the start of the pandemic.
As an agency, we have so much to be proud of. We went into lockdown as a team of five and recently returned to the office – part-time, of course – as a team of 27! It’s been a significant period of growth, which has also seen us shortlisted for two major marketing awards: ‘Marketing Agency of the Year’ in The Drum Awards for Marketing 2021 and ‘Best Start-Up Agency’ in the UK Social Media Awards 2021. We’re also a Preferred Marketing Partner to Facebook and I’ve been appointed as an official trainer for their She Means Business Campaign.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Agencies are people-centred businesses, which means that we’re always at the mercy of people. Getting our people right is crucial, not just for client delivery but also creating an office environment where people want to come to work and be the best. I’m proud to say that we have such an amazing team, but we’ve worked hard to get there and we haven’t been immune to making some wrong hires along the way. Understanding our values as an agency and the kind of talent we want to attract has helped us attract the right people.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Digital marketing is going through some huge changes right now, and we are adapting to those changes. The acceleration of ecommerce was huge during the pandemic but it’s really important that we help our clients navigate this transition period as people adopt a hybrid approach to online shopping; with customer service, community engagement, and targeted promotion being the key to success. We are currently building out new services and growing our creative team to help us continue delivering the best results for the brands that we work with – which is really exciting!
As well as SOUP, I’m also expanding how I share my own expertise. I’ve built over 18,000 followers on Instagram and it’s a great channel for me to engage with people, but there’s a massive opportunity for deeper conversations on LinkedIn too. I have the Amanda Perry Podcast, which I launched back in 2019 to share my learnings in the digital marketing world, and this year I have launched a new podcast called the Work Life Blend. It’s a concept that I’m really passionate about; rather than working 9-5 and living 5-9, I am on a mission to help people find a healthier, more balanced approach that integrates work into how we live. In the first few episodes I have met incredible entrepreneurs including Jules Von Hep (Isle of Paradise), Emma Jones (Enterprise Nation), and Nick Coleman (Snaffling Pig Co).
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I would say that it’s definitely not for everyone, but if you have an idea and the fire in your belly then you should definitely pursue that. There is no shame in failure, and there is also no shame in staying small. Grow your business in a way that feels good to you – forget about what everyone else is doing! It can be difficult as we stare at everyone else’s success on our screens every day, but keeping perspective and remembering that everyone’s journey is different is key to keeping a level head.
A massive learning is to look for and ask for help. Don’t assume that you have to do the journey alone; find podcasts, people to follow, articles, online courses – anything that gives you the tools and insights from people who have walked the line before.
Can you share you top 5-10 tips for entrepreneurial success?
My top tips are:
- Know your life vision – what do YOU want from life
- Run your own race – forget what everyone else is doing
- Be confident – you’re not ‘winging it’, you’re creating a life on your terms and that will stretch you out of your comfort zone
- Don’t be afraid of the tough conversations – that’s where growth happens
- Be nice to people on the way up – you will definitely meet them on the way down
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
Beyonce – she is an absolute boss and master of ‘brand’.
Kim Kardashian – controversial, but that woman has balls and created the game!
Sara Blakely – the inventor of SPANX, she is successful while being kind. She advocates for bringing feminine energy into a masculine business world, something I firmly believe in
Mary Portas – similar to Sara Blakely, Mary Portas places kindness at the heart of business and it’s a gamechanger
Finally, my mum – she is the most selfless person I have ever met and truly an inspiration to me.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
A quote that I refer back to almost every day is from Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” It gives me goosebumps and always helps me put things in perspective.
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?
LinkedIn: Amanda Perry UK
You can also find out more about SOUP over at www.soupagency.co.uk