Female Founders - Julie Ollerton, Creative Resource
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#FemaleFounders: Julie Ollerton, Creative Resource

We are ecstatic to bring you this week’s Female Founder post, featuring a businesswoman who has ran her own company for over 28 years. Julie Ollerton is the Managing Director of Creative Resource, a company specialising in Recruitment Consultancy within Marketing, Digital and Public Relations. A company that has also been shortlisted for the 2018 Marketing & Digital Recruitment Awards. (Go, girl- we have our fingers crossed!)

In this post, Julie details the undoubtedly challenging aspects of her Business Journey. From starting up her business on the cusp of the Recession to taking over as Managing Director and not knowing whether she was cut out for the job. Long story short, she had to be 10x more badass than she ever thought she’d have to be.

But, Julie speaks of how these challenges made her realise she was more than capable of facing them head on and how self- believe was often her biggest motivator.

Julie is the definition of an inspirational woman and we hope you can take something away from her story that will motivate you. It certainly motivated us!

Feature image via Manchester Evening News.

1 Why did you start your business? What spurred you on?

My late husband and I met whilst working in the recruitment industry.  To be honest, it went along the lines of ‘we’re both fed up of working for idiots so let’s do it ourselves’!

2 What are the unique challenges you have faced as a female founder?

The first years were essentially a juggling act.  We set up the business when my eldest was 10 months old and I rarely saw her out of her pyjamas on the four days I worked.  Then, when my next child was 3 weeks old I was trembling through our first VAT inspection! In more recent years I unexpectedly became Managing Director (MD) following my husband’s death.  I’d always worked with clients and candidates and ‘done the books’ but preferred to do my job under the radar, so at first my new position as MD was terrifying. However, working hard kept me sane and making some tough decisions early on made me realise; I can actually do this.

3 What were the 3 steepest learning curves during your first year in business?

Firstly, we set the business up at the start of a tough recession so the biggest one was that the best-laid plans sometimes need to be ripped up and started again.

Secondly, be grateful you don’t have a big mortgage because you won’t often be able to pay yourself

Lastly, don’t rent big fancy offices. Our move from Manchester city centre to Stockport probably saved our business – we’re 5 minutes from the train station with services to Piccadilly every 10 minutes so we’re hardly out of the loop.

Also, we’re 28 years old this month and our rent this year is still less than it was that first year in the city centre.

4 What is your favourite thing about founding your own company?

The freedom to do business in a way that doesn’t make my moral compass go haywire. Anyone who knows me knows that is what drives me and nowadays I don’t feel bruised by the people who make assumptions about me because I’m a recruiter.

5 What is the best business advice you have been given by someone else?

Don’t spend money you don’t have and listen to your accountant!

6 Do you ever suffer from Imposters syndrome? If so, what do you do to tackle it and move forward?

I don’t think I do, but to be honest I don’t have an inflated opinion of myself either. I guess the only time I experienced it was when Steve died and I spent a year hoping no-one would notice I didn’t really have the first idea what I should be doing.  But the courage of my convictions eventually returned and I’ve been able to do some things that I’d probably never have got past Steve!  

I guess just simply believing in yourself and following things through is the way to push past self-doubt.

7 What’s the best book on business you’ve read?

Erm, I don’t read business books really.  I read copiously – fiction and non-fiction – but the business ones tend to stay on the shelf unread. However, one book that unexpectedly helped me was The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F***.  It’s not a business book, but it helped me in both my professional and personal life. I still care just as much about the things that do matter but really don’t worry about the small stuff that is so enervating.

8 Tell us about another brilliant business woman you think our readers should know about

I wish I’d known Clara Wilcox when I was in the juggling children/business days.  Clara worked for us for several years and later went on to build a social enterprise which focuses on improving the lives of working parents.  We embrace flexible working at Creative Resource and have several women returners, who all to varying degrees struggled with confidence when they came to work here after a little time out of the workplace. Clara helped them to see their worth and gain confidence.

9 What piece of advice would you give yourself if you were starting your business now?

Running a family business sometimes means you talk things through between yourselves that you should really get outside opinion about.  A time travelling version of me would have spoken to some sort of business advisor before getting cracking in the early years.

10 If you were working with a marketing budget of £1,000 what would you spend the money on?

That’s a tough one!  I guess I’d put it towards next year’s Two+Two event, where we bring together students and industry professionals to tackle a social change brief.  This year’s was a real success but hiring event space and feeding 200 people costs a fortune! @TwoAndTwoUK

Coffee not getting you hyped enough? We have something better.

Check out our latest Female Founder post with DopeDog founder Erin Mastropietro . Or, if you have a teeny bit more time, scroll through our other amazing #FemaleFoundersLet’s be buds – Follow our Instagram and Twitter.