Bridie Gallagher is Managing Director of the Newcastle-based SEO and digital marketing agency Glass Digital. As well as running a business with 31 employees, she has a 10-year-old daughter, which means she needs to juggle all of her work with the likes of school drop-offs and half-term breaks. Here, Bridie explains how she got to where she is today, and how her career fits in with her family life.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
Before we set up Glass Digital, I had spent 10 years working in client relations within the financial services sector. But I was definitely ready for a new challenge when the opportunity of creating a digital marketing company in Newcastle arose.
The team I went into business with spotted a gap in the market, so we took a fresh approach by founding our company with a focus on transparency. We wanted our clients to know exactly where their money was being spent and when, which is almost unheard of within the industry.
The transition from my previous job into becoming a Managing Director was made far easier thanks to the great people we were able to recruit, and the clear vision everyone shared.
When did you launch?
Our company was incorporated back in early 2014, when there were just three of us working in a tiny office. I remember that it was a really dull space with no windows, so it’s very satisfying to look back at how far we’ve come in the past five years.
How did you get started?
I founded the company with two other people, who have since moved on. Once the idea of going into business cropped up and we had spotted a gap in the market, it wasn’t long before we set everything up and recruited a couple of members of staff to get things off the ground. Two office moves and 31 employees later, there’s no looking back!
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
There’s a lot that I love about running a business. I really enjoy that every day is different and comes with its own challenges, so there’s no danger of becoming bored.
It’s also very rewarding to work with such a great mix of people, and I love watching our employees develop their skills and personalities during their time at Glass Digital.
I’m incredibly proud of the atmosphere we’ve been able to create — everyone supports each other, and it’s great to be a part of that. We frequently receive feedback from employees who say working at Glass Digital is great fun, too, which is always nice to hear.
As a parent, I also appreciate the flexibility that having my own business gives me. It makes it much easier to find a good work-life balance.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business?
The obvious: when things don’t go how you want them to! That being said, the more problems you come up against, the more resilient you become, so the lessons you learn in the tougher times are invaluable.
It’s also much harder to switch off once I’ve left the office if I’m going through a tough spell with work. While it’s quite rare, my job can follow me home on an evening, and can even spill into my weekend. But that’s just the reality of being self-employed and running your own business.
What has worked well about your business?
We’re incredibly lucky that so much has worked out well at Glass Digital. We’ve been able to recruit the best people to build an incredibly talented team, and it’s because of this that we’re able to deliver an array of digital marketing services to such a high standard.
Implementing a flexible approach to working has also really worked for us. We have a flexi-time policy, and our staff are also allowed to work from home one day a week, or two in winter. This helps our staff to have a better work-life balance, so they’re happy and more likely to stay with the company.
Thanks to our talented team and our transparency principle, we also have a great client retention rate. And, because we do things slightly different to a lot of the other digital marketing agencies out there, we’re securing new business all of the time.
How do you fit in work with the family?
I have a 10-year-old daughter who is a very busy bee herself, thanks to all of the extra-curricular interests she has outside of school. Fortunately, our office is relatively close to her school, which means I’m able to drop her off each morning and pick her up once she’s finished all of her different clubs. I’m also very lucky to have a good support network of family to help with the likes of school pick-ups if I can’t make it, which is incredibly helpful.
I tend to make it work thanks to the flexibility my job gives me. Of course, I can’t make it to every sporting event my daughter participates in because there are so many. But I do catch some, and a family member is always happy to go along if I can’t, which my daughter appreciates.
Now and then she’ll come into the office with me before or after school, and is at an age where she won’t pester my colleagues, but does like to have a nose around! I typically try to keep my weekends and evenings free for family time and, if there are any work-related tasks that I need to get done, I’ll usually get to those once she’s in bed.
Would you ever give up your business to do something else?
I very much doubt it, because I love my job and the people I work with. I’m also very excited for the future, because I know Glass Digital has a great deal of potential and I’m looking forward to seeing where our talented team can take us.
When I was a teenager, I had a romanticised dream of running a floristry business, but every time I visit a florist’s I’m reminded how cold those shops are! I don’t think it’s for me.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment?
A huge moment for me and the company as a whole was when we moved into our new premises last year. This marked a new chapter for us, and we’re now working from a much better office space located in a particularly creative and cultural area of Newcastle. It’s the perfect place for us and our workforce appreciate the ‘cooler’ surroundings.
While our business is still relatively young, I’m incredibly proud of how far we’ve come since 2014. And, to me, it feels less like ‘I’ve made it’ and more like ‘we’ve made it’. The success we’ve had so far has only been possible thanks to the continued hard work and determination of our team.
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
Our long-term goal is simply to build on the success we’ve already enjoyed here at Glass Digital. As part of this, we want to increase our staff numbers so we can take on bigger projects, and we’re even considering expanding the range of services we offer. The possibilities really are endless, and I’m confident that we’re well-equipped to achieve all of our goals.
Image credit: http://christopherjamesowens.com/