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Podacst episode 4: Leaping into brightness and sunshine

We welcome IMG community member Clare Taylor to the Podcast talking about how she started a business in a global pandemic and how others can do it too.

Transcription Episode 4: Leaping into brightness and sunshine

We use AI to record and transcribe our podcasts, so while we give it a whizz through to make sure there's nothing shockingly wrong, the below is our verbatim conversation so it might get a little odd to read in places...


David Coghlan, Richard Johnson, Clare Taylor

David Coghlan 00:10 Hi, everybody, and welcome to our latest episode of the IMG podcast. My name is David Coghlan. I'm one of the co-founders, and I'm joined by my business partner, Richard.

Richard Johnson 00:21 Hello.

David Coghlan 00:23 And this time on the podcast, we are super excited to be joined by marketing superstar. All round, excellent person, part time runner, new marathon runner, and also a member of the IMG community. Clare Taylor, welcome.

Clare Taylor 00:40 Hello. Thank you, Dave.

David Coghlan 00:43 No worries. So yeah, really excited to have Claire on. You are our first community member to join the podcast. So congratulations on that little milestone.

Clare Taylor 00:53 Thank you. That sounds quite scary.

Richard Johnson 00:58 I think also one of our first ever community members to join as well. So when we launched back in sort of November, you were definitely, if not the first one, one of the definitely top five. So almost like a founding member of the IMG community as well.

Clare Taylor 01:12 Fantastic. I don't like hanging around.

Richard Johnson 01:15 Front of the curve front.

Clare Taylor 01:17 Absolutely.

Richard Johnson 01:17 Yeah. So I guess, obviously, we've said that you were one of our sort of founding members. So I guess, you know, let's sort of talk about you, your background, your experience, you obviously run your business. So sort of tell us a bit about you really.

Clare Taylor 01:33 Okay. Well, first and foremost, I'm a mum, I'm a wife. I'm now a business owner. And I'm a keen runner, and also a football enthusiast. That's me in a bit of a nutshell. As you said, I am about to run my first marathon in October Dave, so I'm just getting stuck into some hardcore training where that's concerned. And that kind of helps to keep me sane and gives me a little bit of downtime away from the trials and tribulations and excitements of running a business.

Clare Taylor 02:07 So I started my business last year, similar to you guys during the pandemic, and was introduced by a mutual contact of ours to IMG last autumn. I did a little bit of reading on what you guys were doing, and where I thought I might be able to slot into it. And I thought it all sounded quite exciting. And I think that was when we had a conversation. And I subsequently committed and joined up as you said, Richard,

Richard Johnson 02:36 great stuff. So mum, wife, business owner, which one's the most challenging?

Richard Johnson 02:43 Ha ha I would say they're all equally challenging in different ways at different times, for different reasons.

Richard Johnson 02:51 Right, fine, that's a very diplomatic answer. Anyway, we won't go down that route, so tell us about your business and actually your name, it's quite nice.

Clare Taylor 03:05 The business name. So the business is called Apricus marketing. And Apricus is a Latin word, it means full of brightness and sunshine, or warmed by the sun. And when I set up the business, I really wanted to find a name that kind of summarized me really, the kind of person I am, the personality I have. And how I like to work with my clients to kind of bring a little bit of joy into their, their marketing proposition and the way they manage their marketing functions. And when I came across the name, I just really liked it. And I just thought it resonated well with me. And I felt I could be really creative with the branding around that as well which, as you've seen, I've introduced some quite interesting bright colors that I seem to be coming quite synonymous and known for now across my socials and some of my networking events that I go to.

Richard Johnson 03:58 We were talking offline, you've had a new photoshoot done as well, haven't you? And I thought that the yellow, which you were wearing was part of your launch, but apparently wasn't.

Clare Taylor 04:08 No the yellow on my personal branding photography that I use at the moment, the yellow I'm wearing was pre Apricus by probably about 18 months to two years. But by coincidence, it's sort of blended together quite well. So yeah, I've just had some new personal branding photography taken, which I'll be releasing over the over the next few weeks. So yes, a bit of a move away from the yellow there to something a little bit more muted.

David Coghlan 04:37 That's really interesting, those bright, bright colors and where you ended up (with Apricus) you've started your business now, you said you launched it in autumn time, during the COVID pandemic, which, you know, we're a pair of idiots and we did that. But what was sort of what was your motivating force to get going, you know, in that sort of time?

Clare Taylor 04:55 Yeah. I mean, it was kind of twofold, really. It's something that I've wanted to do for probably the last three or four years, but my children were quite young at that time, and the timing just wasn't right. And like a lot of people last year, I started the year employed in a job. And then I found myself in a redundancy situation last summer. But I'm a very positive person. And I thought, actually, you know what, this is a real opportunity. This is an opportunity for me to come out with this doing something that I want to do, and give me the work life balance that I desire that I want for my family, and it's an opportunity to really move forward in that direction. So I decided to take the plunge really. There was never any doubt that that was what I was going to do. I never considered going to get back in the job queue. I just thought no, this is the right time, I believe everything happens for a reason. And so I decided to go for it. And to be honest, I haven't looked back so far.

Richard Johnson 06:02 A bit like us actually, obviously, we took redundancy, whether you take redundency or not I'm not sure if that's the right thing. But, we obviously went through a redundancy process and started our business. And you're almost sort of forced into that, but what what was the underlying desire to start your own business because it's obviously more than redundancy.

Clare Taylor 06:23 It's something I've always wanted to do. I mean, I knew from being a teenager, I studied business studies and economics for A level, I did an international business degree at university. So I've always been interested in business, I've always been inspired by how especially international businesses run, and I also studied German as part of my degree, I'm a German speaker. And I lived and worked abroad. And it's just something that I've always really enjoyed, you know, reading about and following from a sort of a branding perspective and international business perspective. It's always been quite interesting. So I think that desire for me to actually run a business was always there, right from being a young person. But I think what's really important is that you go and you learn your craft, you learn your trade, you hone your skills and when the time's right to move into that arena and do it yourself with some real experience under your belt. I think its what's really important. And hopefully that will make the difference when it comes to success ultimately.

Richard Johnson 07:36 It's a really difficult or a different skill set isn't it, to run your own business. I think that's what we're finding as well and loving it. It's challenging, some of it comes naturally, some of it you have to learn some of it you have to really learn quickly. But I think marketing is something you build up over time. And we're all very good at what we do. But I think running a business, you have to be... It's a different skill. And I think you have to have that mindset as well. So did you have any reservations? I know you said No, but was there anything that really stood out about going it alone?

Clare Taylor 08:16 No, I think I will say, when you're starting out, you have to be confident with what you're doing. So you have to find a level of confidence about what you're doing. And I mean, I've been used to working in businesses for the last 20 odd years where I'm promoting other people's products and services, their brand, their company, their culture. It's one thing doing that. But when it's you, it's your business, it's promoting yourself, you've really got to put yourself out there and that took a little bit of getting used to, but no in terms of reservations, they never entered my mind to be honest.

Richard Johnson 09:00 Good stuff. Yeah.

David Coghlan 09:04 I was just going to say it's really, really admirable. I don't know about you. But the biggest challenge I've certainly faced personally is a bit of imposter syndrome, particularly in marketing, because there's just so many talented people and I know so many talented people, yourself included, you're clearly eminently more qualified to run a business than Richard and I. But the Marketing community is just so small, and I guess, there are loads of people doing such a brilliant job. I know personally, I struggle with the kind of 'eurgh why would they hire me?' but, it goes back again to experience and stuff like that.

Clare Taylor 09:38 Yeah. But you know, you have to understand your knowledge and your value. And when you understand that, then I think you can be a lot more sure about promoting yourself around that. You have to kind of sift through the noise. There's a lot of noise out there in the marketing space these days. You have to sift through that you have to find your position. And obviously communicate that really well, which is what marketing is about ultimately. So if we can't do that, then then we're struggling, aren't we.

Richard Johnson 10:12 Do you think launching your business during a global pandemic was a help or hindrance?

Clare Taylor 10:19 People have asked me this a lot. And my answer is, I did it when I did it. And I don't know how it would be if I'd done it at any other time. So it just happens to be in the middle of a pandemic. I've got nothing to judge it on beforehand. And there's nothing to compare it against. I don't know any different. So I believe that if we get through this time in our first year of business, and hopefully that stands is in really good stead for the future.

Richard Johnson 10:51 Yeah. Yeah. And, and how's it going? So obviously, you are what now probably towards your first half of the year.

Clare Taylor 10:59 And I'm over that. So I launched officially at the beginning of September so i'm into my last quarter. Very pleased with how it's gone so far. I've managed to secure quite a few clients, obviously, you guys being one of them, which has been fantastic. And yeah, just really enjoying it. What I really like about what I do is the variety of work that I pick up. No two days are the same, no two clients are the same. And that really helps to keep it interesting. And it's really advantageous actually, that you can pick up techniques and ideas and transfer them actually from one client type to another, depending on what kind of project you're working on. And it's really nice to see things sort of come together in that way.

Richard Johnson 11:50 I think what we're finding as well Dave isn't it, you go into sectors, which you wouldn't necessarily get into in a full time role. Because obviously, people are buying your skills and services, and not necessarily pigeonholing you. 'But you've got no FMCG background'. It certainly opens a lot more doors, I think being freelance than it does trying to secure permanent roles after permanent roles.

Clare Taylor 12:14 Yeah, absolutely. And I think for me, that's one of the big sort of draws towards you guys and signing up with IMG, because I knew that you would also be looking across different sectors, than I would naturally possibly place myself in and I think that's what's happened with one of the projects that that we've been working on together. But it's been really, really enjoyable. And it's been a really nice addition to have to my sort of set of experience really, going through that project.

Richard Johnson 12:44 I've personally, and it's always been a bugbear of mine, I've hated it when people do job adverts, and it's like, must have, and it's almost like 'must have financial services background'. And I just think you're really limiting your sort of creative thinking and some industries. And I'll call it out now, some industries FMCG are very bad at that they are literally, if you haven't got any experience of that you don't get a look in. And I've always been one where I've recruited people who have no experience in my industry, becasue I want somebody to go, 'actually, do you know what, when I used to do this in the aerospace industry...' and it's like, how is that relevant to a SaaS product, but actually, it's the techniques and it's transferable and that yeah, it bugs the hell out of me.

Clare Taylor 13:32 I say that often, you know, the discipline of marketing, the discipline of what we do is transferable across so many different industries. It's really not, and doesn't have to be industry specific. You know, I've worked across railways, I've worked across pharmaceutical, I've worked across furniture and bed manufacturing, they're all very different industries, but the principles of what I do are are transferable.

Richard Johnson 13:56 And anything you don't know, anything which is unique to that industry you learn. Dave's first foray into the energy industry, he didn't have a clue about Ofgem supply license conditions and all that stuff. But he knew how to kick the ass out of the financial services campaign. But you can learn that and if you're not capable of learning that then you can't do your job. And it just blows my mind. But anyway, that's it, I'll step off my soapbox now.

David Coghlan 14:24 I'll add to that, I remember a couple years ago that we did a thing in the Business Marketing Club about human to human. There is no b2b or b2c, which is you know, the split if you haven't got any b2c experience, don't bother applying. But it's all just people, right? If you can motivate people and move people to take action and do things, then that's all you want, regardless of whether they're sitting in an office in central London or if they're, sitting on their sofa at eight o'clock at night.

Clare Taylor 14:55 I completely agree.

Richard Johnson 14:57 I'm going to ask you a question now which is obviously a bit leading, but actually I'll put my I answer on record as well. And obviously, in five years time, it might be replayed as one of those horror moments, but freelance versus full time employment. If you had to pick a lane for the rest of your life, why?

Clare Taylor 15:23 What a question.

Richard Johnson 15:24 Yeah.

Clare Taylor 15:27 At this moment in time, I'd go absolutely freelance. Definitely. Absolutely. Because I think you are in control of what work you take on, what work you want to take on and you can focus on the work you enjoy doing the kind of work you want to build up. And you can get that really important work life balance. And I think one thing we've all learned as a result of COVID is how precious that actually is. And yes, so for me, at the moment, it would be freelance all the way. I don't regret the full time career, employed for the last 20 years up to this point, because I think that puts you in a much stronger position to move forward from. I think you need a good foundation to start with to be able to do that.

Richard Johnson 16:22 That's such a great answer. It's such a great marketing answer there because you've almost said both! But, No I completely agree in the fact that the full time element gives you a foundation and the chance to build on that. I don't know about you Dave, but it sends shivers down my spine to think that in a year's time, two years time, five years time, I might be back in full time employment. You know, what, I don't really want to be that person. Because I think the variety, everything you just described about variety and that really, really appeals to me and that's what the freelance kind of work gives you. But this might be an interesting, listen back in five years time...

David Coghlan 17:06 I agree with you Clare. And I think there's a foundation where I think you can only really... And it's a leap, right? I think the whole, Richard and I have been talking about this, at length, and we talk about this pretty much every day. Obviously the circumstances or the stars aligned in such a way that we were able to make that leap into self employment of freelancing, which is fine. But when you're a lot younger, it's a hell of a lot scarier, there's a hell of a lot more risk. And actually, in terms of your ability to mitigate that risk in terms of acquiring business, getting new clients and stuff, it's less. So I've done this before, when did I... It was sort of 2010, so 11 years ago, and I was pretty green, I didn't have any corporate experience at all, thought I was a bit of a hot shot marketer, made the leap, and Gee whizz I tell you what, it was the most stressful, emotional phase of my work life. Because it was a roller coaster. Every single month, it was kind of, am I gonna be able to pay the mortgage, and you kind of creep creep creep... Yes! I've made it. And then you might have like, I'd probably take like a week, where i'd just go oh, thank goodness for that. But then it's a kind of, am I going to meet the mortgage this month? So it's like, going to that roller coaster for 18 months was, you know, an absolute nightmare. And then I bugged out and went and joined Experian and then got some, corporate experience. And obviously, going from that roller coaster into corporate life, felt absolutely the right thing to do. It was just more secure. I had people around me people like you know, that's where I met Richard, but I had people around me to support, coach and guide. Which now doing this, this is not a roller coaster at all. This is very planned, very organized. And I guess what I'm trying to say is there's obviously different stages of people's lives when the right time and the optimum time is which goes back to your point about COVID or not COVID for us doesn't make a difference because we had the foundation of our experience.

Clare Taylor 19:23 Yeah, absolutely.

David Coghlan 19:24 I guess the other point, it's kind of I'm sort of thinking about stuff now. But if I was younger, if I was my younger self now and the opportunity for redundancy came up. Would I? Obviously, the furlough scheme may be ending soon or it will be ending soon. Will businesses contract? Are there going to be redundancies? I expect so, would I make the leap again? I don't know. It would be tough. And I guess it's, I don't want this to be a sales pitch for IMG, but I guess our model is around providing a bit of a soft landing for those those folk in terms of, we've got contracts of various sizes for various businesses. And actually the community can almost provide a bit of an environment, not a corporate environment, but experienced people around you to support you through it. I think the next the next few years are going to be really interesting, particularly for people sort of younger or earlier in their career.

Clare Taylor 20:21 Yeah, absolutely. And it's so important that those people, those younger people aren't forgotten in all of this. Because, you know, it's so important that they are given the same kind of opportunities, even though they may have to be executed in a different way, because of new restrictions that we're now under. But I was talking to somebody last week, and we were saying about how much you learn as a young person, being in an office, listening to the sales team on the phone or listening to the engineers having a chat in the background, you learn and it gives you an opportunity to ask questions and to probe and to, you know, can I hop on to that sales visit with you next week that sounds really interesting, I'd like to learn a bit more about that. That's one of the maybe the downsides to the home working, is that younger people within organizations aren't maybe getting as much exposure as they would have done in the old scenario to the day to day, that's happening within businesses. And that's all part of the learning process really.

Richard Johnson 21:28 I completely agree. And it's something which I had not really realized, you kind of view stuff through your own lens, don't you? Actually, someone said that to me, it was just like, it's okay for you because you've got an office at home, I work on a kitchen table, or something, which is, you know, over a radiator. It's almost how you interact with people as well in office, how you learn to negotiate and work your way around.

Richard Johnson 21:55 So one question before we get on to the sort of the community really. So we talked about setting up our own businesses, what was the one bit of advice you were given which has just kind of stuck with you? Because when you float these ideas, I'm going to go and start my own business, everyone gives you advice, what was the one bit which was like, Ok i'm going to keep that on board?

Clare Taylor 22:18 I think for me, it was take at least a day a week to work on your own business. And I try, and I've tried to commit to that. So I'll try to give myself the equivalent of a day a week over the course of a week to work on my own business. And I think that's really, really important. And that was the one piece of advice that just resonated with me as being quite critical. Because I think you have to do that to nurture your business and to move forward. So you're not just treading water from day to day or week to week, but you're planning, you're planning ahead. And, yeah, being a more sort of strategic person anyway, I'm, if I've got a plan to hand I'm comfortable, and I'm happy. So for me, that's quite important.

Richard Johnson 23:10 Dave, what was yours?

David Coghlan 23:14 Errr... I was just trying to think,

Richard Johnson 23:17 Shall I give you some more time to think and I'll tell you mine?

David Coghlan 23:19 Yeah, please.

Richard Johnson 23:21 So I was basically, it's linked to what you said earlier. Always have six months. So basically, it was about making sure you retain enough money in your account to pay your overheads and your salary, however small that is, for six months, because it relieves the pressure on your business. And your conversation about can I pay the mortgage or can I not, and that's how we run our business. We always know if everything stopped today, we have a six month runway to basically get more business. And I think that doesn't make us blase. But it means we can make rational decisions, I think.

Clare Taylor 23:59 Yeah, I agree.

Richard Johnson 24:00 Yeah. Dave?

David Coghlan 24:02 Ha ha on the spot now. No, I think, I was trying to reflect back on when I did this before and I think my previous business partner who remains a sort of a mentor to me now, and a friend. And I learned so much from him. So while I say that that experience was an absolute, emotional roller coaster, the learning curve was literally vertical on all sorts of avenues. And I guess, the one thing that really sort of resonates from what I learned from him was about having mentors. And they don't need to know they're mentors, and it's almost like having your own personal board. So people that you might speak to or ask advice or seek guidance from, they don't even need to know that they're a mentor or whatever. But surrounding yourself with people that can help you make better decisions faster. And even when I was working client side when I was in corporates, or whatever that was true. And that's really stuck with me. It almost helps sort of ground you a bit in terms of you don't have to make quick decisions, you can think about things and get different opinions. And that's really helpful. I find, yeah.

Clare Taylor 25:24 Yeah, I think that's really good piece of advice.

Richard Johnson 25:27 And so sort of finally on to the community then. So one of the questions people listening might have is that, you run your own business, you're very successful in your own right. Why join The Inspired Marketing Group community, which is almost competing with your business? What made you do this in reality?

Clare Taylor 25:50 So what made me do it was kind of why not do it really? I think, we've got very similar approaches that work in quite a complimentary way. And I like the fact that you are part of a community. So being essentially a solopreneur, right now. It's good to, it's good to connect and have people around you, like you were just saying Dave, and work with people, as part of this community, it's nice to feel part of something probably, a bit broader than just my own business at this stage. And I think for me, the fact that almost, there's no obligation, made it a no brainer. So I sign up with you guys, pay a small monthly subscription. And to know that you guys are out there looking for opportunities to help me fill my funnel, my pipeline of work, was really great to know. I don't have the luxury of having a huge sales team at Apricus marketing out there looking for business for me, so to connect with you guys, knowing that you guys are potentially picking up projects that I that I can take on, why not do it? And then the fact that it was made very clear to me that I can fit those projects completely around my own business. If you come to me with a project today, and I'm too busy to take it on, I've got no obligation to take it on, I can just be very open and honest. And say, that's great. It's a brilliant fit for me, but unfortunately it's not the right timing for me. And then you guys can agree with the client either to delay and wait for my availability, or you have other fantastic people in the community that you can offer it onto. So that was nice and reassuring that it's totally flexible, and can fit within my model, within my business if you like and that's how we've managed to make it work so far. And and I think it's it's worked quite well.

Richard Johnson 28:05 And I think as well you talked about you always want to spend a day on your business. So in effect, potentially we're taking some of that day, lead genning on your behalf so we're almost freeing up a bit of your time as well.

Clare Taylor 28:17 Absolutely.

Richard Johnson 28:18 Yeah. And I think we we've now worked together on a project for four months have we now?

Clare Taylor 28:24 Yeah, it's gone really quickly hasn't it

Richard Johnson 28:26 Yeah. So and I think from from my side, but actually speaking from the client side as well. What they really, really like about what we've placed into that business is it's a mixed skill set on a mixed kind of contractual rate. So they're almost get a bit of your expertise, a bit of my expertise, and actually the two blended together is probably someone they couldn't afford or doesn't actually exist! And then from your business point of view, I think, well we're taking a day of your week to do that. So even you're still running your business and getting another four or however many days you want to do.

Richard Johnson 29:01 So. Yeah. We talk about flexibility a lot in our business and actually, like you said it's not obligatory, it's flexible to work as much as you want to or not for us and actually outside of that and i'm not going to try and put words in your mouth, I think you've kind of said I'm almost paraphrasing it, even if there is no work the input you get from the community about how to run a business, just collaborating with other marketeers is probably worth a nominal subscription fee anyway.

Clare Taylor 29:32 Yeah definitely.

Clare Taylor 29:33 Absolutely. I mean, when you think the monthly fee is the cost of a couple of coffees these days like I say it really was a no brainer.

Richard Johnson 29:40 I think it's been great, I love the fact that you've embraced the model I love the fact that we've found you or you found us whatever it is, I'd like to think we've found you to be fair, because you're certainly bring more to the group than we could ever hope to offer. So it's been great having your time today. And yeah, Dave, do you want to do the normal wrap up? Because you're so much better at it than me?

David Coghlan 30:11 Ha ha face for radio is that we're saying? That was really insightful. Yeah. And thank you, Claire, for coming on this kind of January.

Clare Taylor 30:21 Thank you, thank you for having me I really appreciate it. It's been great so far.

David Coghlan 30:24 So far. So far, ha ha we've still gotta keep keep it going. Yeah, keep the momentum going, chaps otherwise that'll be it I'm outta there! But yea really, really brilliant, like Richard said, one of the first people through the door, totally get it and has helped us deliver some fantastic results for our clients. So yeah, really, really thank you, Claire, and thank you for your time.

David Coghlan 30:47 If you're a marketer, if you're currently freelancing, if you're on client side and you fancy dipping your toe and you want that soft landing, then come and have a look. See what we're doing. Visit us at We'd love to hear from you. Doesn't matter what skill set you've got, we'd love to get you involved. And similarly, if you would like to hire some of our expertise, including the wonderful Claire, Rich and I we're kind of alright, but you know, you probably want the team then yeah, have a look at the website, uk We'd love to hear from you. Thanks so much for your time chaps, really appreciate it. Thanks, Claire. And we'll see you all on the next one. Howdy.


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