#FemaleFounders: Olivia Hanlon, Girls in Marketing - Interview
Take me back

#FemaleFounders – Olivia Hanlon, Girls in Marketing

Girls in Marketing is an e-learning platform providing women with the tools they need to get started on their marketing journey. In just three years, Girls in Marketing has built an impressive network of over 150,000 women, all with the same goal – to have successful and exciting marketing careers. Through group support, online resources and events (both virtual and in-person), Girls in Marketing is helping women to do just that! We chatted to Girls in Marketing founder, Olivia Hanlon, to hear about her experience starting a thriving business as a 20-something. 

1. Which three skills would you say are crucial to being a founder?

I’d definitely say a mixture of resilience, passion, and drive. You’ve got to have the passion in the first place to even get started with what you’re doing, and then you’ve got to have the drive to push on, even through challenging times. Finally, you must have resilience as there will be many setbacks you may encounter along the way. Being a founder is about much more than profits, it’s about purpose and feeling fulfilled with what you do. 

2. What is your favourite thing about being a business owner?

Helping others and seeing our audience/community/followers thrive. I live for packed virtual events and amazing feedback. It’s so overwhelming to see the number of people that we have single-handedly impacted with our work. I don’t think I’ll ever comprehend the sheer number of women who find our organisation helpful.

3. What have you found challenging about starting your business?

Navigating business life as a twenty-something. I never intended to be a business owner, so I definitely wasn’t prepared. When I quit my job to go full-time with Girls in Marketing, I took a risk but the risks haven’t stopped there. As I continue to build out our team, and grow the organisation, navigating business doesn’t get any easier – you just get a little bit better at it as time goes on. 

4. What are the biggest barriers you face when it comes to growing your business?

Time. It sometimes feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things we want to do. We are constantly coming up with new ideas and we often just have to prioritise them because we don’t have enough time to dedicate to them! 

5. If you could learn more about one area of marketing, what would it be? 

Paid media, 100%. It’s such a sought-after area of marketing and one that I’m not all too familiar with. I’ve always put my expertise into organic marketing, I’ve specialised in SEO, content marketing, organic social and brand building, but never paid stuff. For PPC and Facebook Ads, I’m definitely NOT your girl. But, I’d like to give it a whirl if anyone is up for putting their budget on the line! 

6. How did you recognise that you were an entrepreneurial person?

I didn’t really ever recognise that I was. I suppose it just happened. I had our amazing community that was growing, and I wanted to spend more time putting my energy into the community. So, it came very naturally. I never anticipated that I’d be sitting in an office with two other full-time employees and two part-timers – it’s crazy! 

A business friend of mine, Sonya Barlow, recently released a book called Unprepared to Entrepreneur which gives tips and tricks to budding business owners. It’s a really good place to start and, since being sent the book, I’ve learned a lot of stuff that I didn’t know before. 

7. How do you fight Imposter Syndrome?

By shaking myself up and giving myself a reality check. We’re our own worst enemy sometimes, which is why so many people suffer from Imposter Syndrome. But, I think it’s important to check yourself and acknowledge how far you’ve come. I started GiM as a community in August 2019, not even three years on and we’re at such an amazing point – Imposter Syndrome doesn’t belong here.

8. If someone was struggling to start a business due to confidence, what would your advice be?

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. What else have you got to lose? 

9. If you could magically change one thing about your business now, what would it be?

I wouldn’t change anything. I love where we’re at right now. I can’t wait for the future, but I also love to embrace the present and really make the most of it. I have a lovely team of girls building GiM with me and that’s all I could ever ask for.

10. Tell us about another brilliant businesswoman that our readers should know about.

Gaby Mendes, from Talk Twenties, is an absolute babe and business queen. She’s such a fountain of knowledge and we’re always thinking of ideas to help each other. Her platform, Talk Twenties, is such a cool concept too! 

Help me discover other incredible female founders! 

Not quite done learning about the brilliant female founders we have here in Liverpool? You’ll be pleased to hear that we’ve got plenty of other interviews for you to peruse. Why not take a look at our interviews with Aoibheann McCormack, Founder of Dumb Dough and Gaby Mendes, Founder of Talk Twenties

To stay in the know with the latest updates from Girls in Marketing, give them a follow on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.