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TGt Meets... Sara Tye
As part of our Entrepreneur Week Specials, we've been speaking to Sara Tye, founder of redheadPR, CEO of Etape Suisse and MD at Gingernut Creative.
Tell us a little bit more about your business.
I’ve been obsessed with business since my teens, when I ran various money-making schemes. I started redheadPR 14 years ago after a long career running agencies and managing blue chip clients for other people.
At redheadPR, we develop campaigns - online and offline – that engage audiences for organisations and individuals. We cover all aspects of public relations, including corporate communications, product, service and personal brand development and crisis management. Our work ranges from social media maximisation to editorials and columns in key magazines. We also manage events. Examples this year include the launch of the Conservative Party Election Manifesto at UTC Swindon and the opening of Cyclefit’s new store in Manchester.
What inspired you to set up your business?
I always wanted my own business. Early in my career, I worked with blue chip businesses to make my CV the best it could be. I obsessed over new ideas and best practice. I implemented the philanthropic strategy at Yellow Pages and this went a long way to helping us win the European Foundation Quality Management Model Award. Working with big brands also helped nail it at job interviews.
PR is in my blood. When I was younger, I used to pore over Vogue magazine and visit London regularly. Even then, I knew I would start and run a business from the capital –the best city in the world. I also knew it had to be a best practice agency and compete globally. I now run a number of businesses and a property portfolio.
What do you think attracts people to starting their own business?
A non-compliant attitude, flexibility, drive, hunger, invention and an eye for the next big thing. I remember when networking and entrepreneurship were really only American ideas. Then, like everything from the US, they got big over here. I’ve always tracked trends from the US – it keeps me ahead of the curve over here. In the UK, we were always going to be a country of entrepreneurs because the evolution of technology has made it so much easier. Now, of course, trends come from all over the world, so we need to be international citizens.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
I’ve faced many challenges. Working for the late Dame Anita Roddick was a huge one. Getting through the 2008 crash - the worst downturn I’ve known - was another. These days I juggle being a mum of two small girls with growing businesses and running my property portfolio – all ongoing challenges.
Do you have a motto or favourite motivational quote?
Yes. Maintain a relentless approach and always stay #aheadofthecurve, redheadPR’s strapline. I say both all the time to every client and every member of staff.
What advice would you give someone looking to take the plunge and start a business?
Take that the risk. Do it now, before it’s too late. Remember, with the resources available to support your ideas, such as crowdfunding, mentors, etc, there’s never been a better time to take the plunge and get your business off the ground.
When I first started, I arranged to meet the acquisitions director of the largest global PR agency. When I told him of my best practice ideas, he said, ‘You’re on the mark.’ Now, when I look back, I can’t believe I had the nerve, but it was so helpful. I also used to text and speak to Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP. He’s amazing.
So, keep going. No one said it’s easy - but it’ll be the best thing you ever do.
What’s the biggest challenge facing business leaders today?
Transformation. By this, I mean technology, remote working and changes in people’s relationship with work and money.
Terrorism also presents a huge challenge. It’s having a profound effect on travel and I believe it will reduce openness. I lived through the IRA bombs in London several years ago. They affected many people. What we’re seeing today is worse. We need a collective global response. And quickly.
What’s been your biggest achievement to date?
Training to getting (I Hope) an Ironman medal, seeing my two gorgeous girls growing up, caring about others, working with great people globally and making my business thrive in Swindon - something I never believed would be possible when I left the town all those years ago.
When you’re not busy running your business, how do you like to spend your down time?
Training for Ironman. I spend 14 hours a week doing this alongside my other commitments. I also love being at home or travelling with my children and seeing them experience new things. And I enjoy being with friends in Swindon. Oh, and being quiet, too (Ha Ha!).