Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Elisha Dignam, Founder of CULT Marketing, located in Northampton, Northamptonshire, UK.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
CULT Marketing is a specialist marketing consultancy providing businesses with a cost-effective solution to strategy development, digital marketing delivery, and employee development and coaching. Essentially acting as your outsourced marketing coach, we help you achieve your goals (business or personal) in a way that's right for you.
Tell us about yourself
I started working in marketing over 12 years ago after graduating from the University of Warwick, originally client-side, working for a range of international and national brands. I reached the Marketing Director level before the age of thirty. However, during the middle of a global pandemic, I decided it was time for a change. So I decided it was time to invest my passion into something of my own. Something I could believe in and give something back to others. That was when CULT Marketing was born.
After a couple of months, I recognised an opportunity following discussions with a few clients. Reflecting on my earlier career, I remembered what it was like to be the only marketing person in an organisation and how isolating and lonely it could be. As a marketer, we are trained "to be a marketer, " including talking and behaving like a marketer. However, from experience, this often isn't understood by the wider business, especially when you're reporting to a non-marketing senior leader. As a result, I launched the marketing coaching side of the company, intending to support solo marketers and small teams to develop and achieve career success through coaching and training.
Other (potentially!) interesting insights into myself:
- I'm dyslexic, and because I was a high achiever throughout school, this wasn't finally acknowledged until I was at the end of my school journey and heading into university.
- I am also a part-time Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Northampton (since 2021) - another opportunity for me to support the next generation of marketers to unlock their potential and achieve great things.
What motivates me every day is helping others achieve success. Hearing from coaching clients, business owners, and my students that they are achieving their goals feels me with such gratitude and happiness that I've been able to play a small part in their journey.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
When I started the business, I remember saying to my family, "I'll give it six months; if it doesn't work, I'll go back to permanent employment. Besides, there aren't many job vacancies at the moment anyway, so what do I have to lose." So with just £100 invested in building a website, CULT was born and officially started promoting in September. My aim was to simply earn enough to cover the bills, but by the end of year one, I was already making more money than I had previously when I was employed.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, it was learning that it's okay to switch off over the weekends and to take holidays. I have a small team supporting me behind the scenes, but I am very much the face of the business and handle all client correspondence, so taking time out in the early stages felt impossible. But over time, I learnt that the world keeps spinning even if I turn off my emails for a week and take a break. The key is being prepared and communicating this with my clients and the team and managing their expectations.
I don't work weekends, I take holidays, and I take time out to teach at the local university because I enjoy it. Everyone needs downtime to recharge and live life. Hustle culture is just a one-stop train to burnout, and I've taken that ride a few times... and I don't want to do it again.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Believe in yourself and your skills, but be honest with yourself about where you need help.
- Invest what you can in marketing and your brand, but remember Rome wasn't built in a day.
- Find your people that are on the same wavelength and similar journeys - inspiring and growing with each other. As much as family and friends support you unless they are entrepreneurs and business owners, they don't always understand what you're going through
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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