Capturing growth through collaboration
Having the opportunity to build new networks, overcome challenges and develop long term business goals were key priorities for business owner Nina Walton of Walton Marketing & Communications. That’s why she decided to join the inaugural Captured course back in 2016.
With more than 18 years’ experience of marketing and communications behind her with roles in media and a 10 year stint at professional services firm PwC in Newcastle, she launched her consultancy in 2014 and has since grown the business by over 35%, helping clients plan their communications activity and use their marketing channels more effectively.
Nina credits the growth of Walton Marketing & Communications, which specialises in marketing strategy, PR and communications, to the support of programmes such as Captured, that played a key role in helping her find solutions to challenges, as well as helping shape her aspirations for the business.
Nina Walton, Director, Walton Marketing & Communications said;
It’s been a long-standing ambition of mine to set up my own business. Having previously held a number of in-house marketing roles across the North East, I wanted to use that experience to work with a range of organisations across different sectors. I knew that creating a sustainable business and brand would take time, and that getting as much support and guidance from the outset was vital. As an alumnus, I’ve always had a strong affiliation to Newcastle University so when I saw the Captured programme advertised, I jumped at the chance to be involved. There are so many elements to navigate when setting up a business. Working for yourself can at times be isolating, and there are a lot of grey areas and questions to resolve, so having the opportunity to work with a mentor to talk through those challenges was very appealing.
Speaking of grey areas…It was in fact Nick Gray, Managing Director, North and Ireland for respected professional services firm Faithful+Gould that was to become Nina’s mentor. Nick said:
Captured is a really good concept and one that I would recommend. Listening to the challenges faced by the business owners causes me to reflect and look at how the experience I’ve gained through my career can be used to help them in what they are trying to achieve.
Nick has continued to take part in the programme along with other colleagues from Faithful + Gould.
Nick was really helpful in holding a mirror up to me and the business, getting me to think about my ‘why’ and the reasons for setting up in the first place. He also helped me to think about my short and long-term business goals and what my timescales were for completing them. Challenge was also provided around who my ideal customer was, which was beneficial in helping me form an effective business development plan, as well as understanding how to better align my brand. We talked a lot about pricing strategies and profitability and the balance between one off projects versus retainers. This was useful in grasping the impact this has on cashflow.
Since attending the course in 2015, Nina’s business has gone from strength to strength, with a string of new clients and contracts won, a number of which came about as a result of relationships built on the Captured programme. Nina also pays credit to the knowledge and insights gained from the Captured course’s fellow business owners, mentors and academics who helped to provide challenge and a focus on her personal business goals. As well as winning work, she made some good friends and even appointed her accountant from this network! Nina has also rebranded the business and is now outsourcing work and collaborating more with freelancers to build a team.
That’s one of the things I’m really proud of. In those early discussions with Nick, I set out to secure more long-term retained contracts and build a team of great freelance support and I’m delighted to have achieved just that. It sounds simple but to be able to pay other people felt like a real turning point in the business and something I’m very proud of.
On being asked about plans for the future Nina added;
More of the same, maybe a permanent office space and to partake in a Captured 2 follow up course would be great. I’m very much a people person, so getting the chance to work with different people is something I relish. And there is something special about having a business in the region – people are very supportive. It’s true what they say…it really is canny up north!