My Week: Stella Jones of 365 Direct

The telemarketing entrepreneur thinks about how to take her business to the next level.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Mondays are always hectic in our house, but trying to get the children up and off to school after a week of school holidays, whilst ensuring that I have everything organised for a 3-day trip to London, was always going to be a challenge, even for the most organised of working mums.

Still, I managed to get to the train on time, where I met my business partner Olga Gough. Being so busy means that we have to make each hour count, so instead of a magazine and a cup of tea, my travelling companions are now laptops and meeting agendas. On arrival, we headed straight to a meeting with a prospective new client. No matter how long I am in business, I never lose the thrill of the chase. The client was interested in our email marketing offering as well as telemarketing, so I showed them examples of our work in this area – before dashing across town to set up our stand at the Technology for Marketing and Advertising exhibition. 

Stella Jones' top recession-busting tip: "There will be issues that you can’t control. Make sure you understand their implications, and work out how to deal with them quickly."

Tuesday morning was an early start. It was our first time exhibiting at TFM&A and it really needed to work in order to be able to pay for itself. We analyse all our sales and marketing activity in order to maximise the return on investment, and this was no different.

The exhibition was a busy one and we left with lots of leads. We also had an interesting conversation with a company that specialises in mergers and acquisitions. Olga and I want to grow the core business, which offers telephone-led direct marketing, and complement it with other communications channels such as SMS, email, online and digital offerings. A possible route for expansion is acquisition, so this conversation came at the right time.

I met an existing client for dinner and reviewed their project. Over an 18 month period, it’s grown into a real partnership where we give feedback beyond our remit of an outsourced telemarketing agency. In these challenging economic times, we all need to look inwards and outwards to ensure that what we think is right for the business will yield the results necessary to earn back the £1 spent by 100 or 200%.

Thursday was a much-needed office day, making calls and catching up with the team. Being surrounded by a team of energetic, talented and loyal people is very important to me, and finding such ‘stock’ can be like finding a needle in a haystack. So I am always conscious of keeping in touch with their challenges on a regular basis. In the evening I spoke to a Business Network Forum called Network She. Last year they awarded us ‘Business of the Year’ and as a result have invited us to share our experiences in a ‘warts-and-all’ presentation entitled ‘Starting your own business and staying in business’.

Friday brought this hectic week to a close but I had a lot more work to do over the weekend. As a business we are looking to raise finance over the next few months; we’ve been looking in detail at the various possibilities we have to raise money, so much of the weekend was spent considering these options.

Stella Jones is founder of the telemarketing agency 365 Direct (www.365direct.co.uk)

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