Bridie Gallagher is Managing Director of the SEO and digital marketing agency Glass Digital. Here, she shares her tips for other women who aspire to run their own companies one day.
Before setting up our digital marketing agency, I spent 10 years working in client services within the financial services sector. Starting my own business was something I had considered, but I’d never taken any real steps towards achieving my goal. Then, when I was starting to feel like I wanted a new challenge, the opportunity to take the leap presented itself.
As you might imagine, there’s an incredibly steep learning curve to running a business for the very first time, and you’ll certainly make some mistakes to begin with. But, just like anything, it gets easier as time goes on.
Whether you’re on the cusp of setting up a business, or it’s part of your long-term plan, I’m going to share some of my top tips that will help you to succeed. Take these tips on board, and you’ll find it much easier to be the best MD possible!
Only agree to work with those you admire and trust
As a Managing Director, it’s vital that you only ever agree to work with people you admire and trust. We’ve been very lucky at Glass Digital in that we haven’t had too many problems to contend with but, in the early days, we did hire some people who weren’t quite right for the business.
Agreeing to work with the wrong people will only hold your business back and, eventually, you’ll have to make the difficult decision to part ways, which can be hard to do. So, I strongly advise every aspiring MD to thoroughly vet anyone that you bring into your business. It can also help to ask for recommendations from people you look up to and respect in the early days, in order to build a core team you can totally put your trust in.
Listen to other people’s ideas
When you’re working your way towards being a Managing Director, and even once you’ve achieved your goal, you need to ensure you take the time to listen to other people’s ideas. You need to be humble and accept that you don’t know the answers to everything — the whole point of hiring people is that they’ll have different skillsets to you. This means they’ll be able to handle certain tasks and make particular decisions much better than you could. So, listen to them.
Of course, you don’t have to implement every idea you’re given, but it’s vital that you consider them. This will also help your staff to feel valued, which is incredibly important to me as an MD.
Don’t be afraid to accept some help
Nobody can do it all, so it’s important that Managing Directors — or those trying to become one — accept help when they need it. For example, I have an 11-year-old daughter, and I have a great support system who can help me with the likes of school pick-ups and drop-offs, as well as going along to school recitals if I ever can’t make it.
I also have a fantastic team, who are great at what they do. This means I don’t have to worry if I find that there’s just far too much on my plate and I need to delegate a few tasks. Again, this is down to the fact that we’ve done a great job of hiring a wonderful team. It’s the foundation of everything we’ve been able to achieve at Glass Digital.
Believe in yourself
Finally, it’s far too common for women to doubt themselves: it’s one of the main reasons why only one in three entrepreneurs is female (The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship). But there’s no reason why women should believe they don’t belong in the business space. Female-owned businesses tend to outlast those started by men (Cornell University), and companies with women in senior positions tend to yield better returns (Credit Suisse [PDF]). So, trust that you belong at the head of a boardroom table. Believe in yourself and the rest will follow!
Whether you’ve always dreamed of becoming a Managing Director, or the opportunity has presented itself and you’re nervous about taking the leap, keep these tips in mind and you’ll avoid a lot of the pitfalls new MDs can fall into. Good luck!