As well as my usual Christmas Countdown this year, I decided I wanted to spread the joy a little more and introduce you to some of the amazing women I have the pleasure of working with either collaboratively or on a client basis or who I know of and network with on a regular basis.
It also fits in well with Small Business Saturday, which is all about supporting and shopping from small local businesses near and around you.
So without further ado, I would love to introduce you to Helena Borthwick-Hill from 49Digital Ltd.
Tell me a little bit about you, your business and what you do…
About Me: Formally a secondary school music and history teacher, I took time away from work to have my children and knew I never wanted to return to the classroom! I’m 44 years old and have been running our business along with my husband since 2010. As time has gone on, Geoff has taken more of a back seat as his job as an airline pilot and training captain has taken him away from home for longer periods of time.
We have two daughters, Alexandra and Leanna aged 18 and 15. Alexandra is in her first year at The University of York reading English Literature and Leanna is doing her GCSEs this year so it’s very busy! We also have two gorgeous labradoodles, Odie and Oska who keep me company in my office while I’m building websites and a Persian cat called Basil who sleeps all day!
In my spare time I love to keep fit and build lego architecture models!
What made you decide it was time to take that big leap and start your own business?
After leaving teaching 14 years ago, I set up my own relocation business, Helena Hill Homesearch doing a “Kirsty and Phil’, but here in the North East. So, when 49digital came along it was the second leap for me.
We started the business in 2010 while living in Vancouver. I’d just finished my Masters in Town Planning and Geoff had taken a two year career break from the airline. While I was working as a researcher at The Urban Development Institute in Vancouver, Geoff set up the business building websites. I project managed the builds in my spare time when I wasn’t in the UDI office.
When we moved back to the UK in 2011 we decided to bring 49digital back with us and for some time it was mainly social media management and some website work. In the last two years, however, we have now moved to almost exclusively web development. As Geoff got busier with his job at the airline I found myself doing an increasing amount of web work and now it’s pretty much all me!
What’s the ONE thing you absolutely love about being self employed?
Working with people I want to work with!
Was there a moment in your business journey when you realised you’d made the right decision to go it alone?
Definitely! Probably back in 2012 when things were really starting to take off and my learning curve was as steep as it could get! You know when you just get that ‘feeling’ that you’ve done the right thing? That’s never left me and even though some days are extremely tiring and very stressful I can’t ever see myself doing anything else. I really do consider myself so lucky that I love what I do.
What are your hopes and dreams for your business in 2017?
We’re going to be working with a mentor next year, starting in January which is very exciting. Our business has already started to evolve with Yuzability; a site dedicated to user experience design. We all also have something else up our sleeve, but that’s under wraps for now!
So, in a nutshell, we want to launch Yuzability as a formal stand-alone UX consultancy in 2017!
Are there any entrepreneurs that you follow who inspire you and why?
Yes, Pat Flynn of www.patflynn.com and www.smartpassiveincome.com is my inspiration. He started his business back in 2008 after being made redundant as an architect and has built his business through sheer determination and focus. He’s smart and is dedicated to sharing his success with others.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
An architect! I’ve always had a thing for buildings and town planning. When I was fifteen my Dad told me I wasn’t good enough at maths to be an architect (he was probably right!) and I ended up going into teaching, just like my Mum. It’s still a huge regret of mine BUT I build websites and I think the reason I enjoy it so much is because I feel like I’m building something from the foundations up. Just look a well designed home, a well designed website has to be user-friendly, comfortable, easy to navigate and look great!
Christmas is just around the corner – how are you celebrating it this year?
My sister and I take turns to host Christmas. Most Christmases Geoff is flying but he isn’t this year so it’s our turn. My Dad always joins us too which is lovely! Even though our daughters are well into their teens we still go to the Panto at the Theatre Royal every year. Let’s face it, it’s as much for the adults as it is the kids!