Posted: Sat 12th Oct 2019
Ellen Carroll is the founder of Nellie PR and offers strategic public relations and marketing consultancy to businesses. The Enterprise Nation member shares some insights into her day and business story.
We don't need an alarm clock. Our little one wakes us up about 7am and we either get jumped on or a little face appears to say he's hungry and he wants his breakfast, now.
I don't have a typical morning routine other than trying to get out the door on time to get our little boy to school. It's always a bit of a run around to get him dressed, so if I'm lucky I get a cup of tea before I drop him off at school.
I'm trying to be good at the moment so I do try to eat a healthy breakfast and by healthy I mean a banana before setting off for a swim.
I started swimming in the mornings a few months ago and love going as it really clears my head and gets me focused. I've found that swimming has been really good for business - I often have my best ideas when I'm swimming up and down. I'm trying to stick to this as a morning ritual although it can be quite a struggle when I'm really busy, but after running my own business for 13 years, I'm finally trying to get more of a life/work balance.
Up until recently my commute was a 20-minute walk or an even shorter ferry ride to get to the office, which I really miss as well as the view of the sea from my old office. Because I'm out and about so much more, I now work from home so my commute is a walk up the stairs or I work from client offices, hot desk or spend time in co-working spaces.
I don't have a typical day. I do a lot of training and mentoring with clients that means I'm either speaking to people online over video or meeting with them in groups of face-to-face, which I love.
For my consultancy clients where I work with them on their PR and communication strategy, I work very closely with them - going into their offices, talking to their staff and clients to really get a feel of their challenges and what they need to achieve.
I also run an online PR strategy programme so host weekly Q&As where you'll find me online, over video, talking to clients all over the country.
My business has evolved over the years so I spend more time training, mentoring and acting as an adviser but I like to still do the do, so I work on various projects such as commissioning research, writing white papers and pitching to secure press coverage for my clients or to position them as thought leaders in their field.
Everything. I do have a small virtual team that I've built up over the years that help me on certain projects, but I still work very much in the business as well as on the business. I like being at the coalface so I'm tactical as well as strategic. You'll find me working on PR strategies and plans and well as doing the implementation.
I've been in PR and communication for over 22 years so love the mentoring side of what I do. I call it my 'Sitting next to Nellie' service and that is exactly what you'll find me doing - sitting next to people whether that is a business owner or a fellow PR and comms person that needs support and a bit of handholding. In the last few years, I've changed my business quite considerably and have had to learn new skills in order to create and launch my own online courses.
There is not one favourite moment. I work with my clients over the long-term and seeing them grow is the best reward. You can't beat the feeling when a client tells you how much of an impact you've made on them and their business - helping them to secure their highest-ever sales or getting them recognised at the highest levels.
I often work with businesses that would have previously described themselves as 'a hidden gem' or the 'best-kept secret' and I love helping them to come out of the shadows to be better connected and rewarded. Sometimes the transformation is quite remarkable.
It's the freedom - the freedom to keep on learning, to keep on challenging yourself and to do your best work. Flexibility means I can take time off when I need it to be with my family and the freedom to turn down work. Even after 13 years I still love saying I run my own business.
I've struggled in the past to work on my own business, but I'm getting better and have started to treat myself as a client and do my own PR and marketing as it really does work. My motto is now "do for yourself what you do for others" so I'm enjoying stepping out of the shadows myself to grow my own business and attract more of the work I love doing.
At the moment, it's doing the school pick up, playtime and then dinner. I do go to the odd evening networking event and if I'm working away from home, it's a bit of slob in front of the hotel TV to relax, as I don't really get the chance to do that at home.
When my little one is in bed I do dig out the laptop and do a bit more work, scheduling a few emails to get ahead of a few things and a quick catch up on Twitter and
I used to be a night owl working late into the night but I can't do that any more unless inspiration strikes then I get stuck in and just take time off the following day so I'm not overtired. You have to look after yourself and remember why you set up in business in the first place and it wasn't to work all hours of the day.
A writer or a ballroom and Latin American dancer. Sadly, I think my Strictly days are far behind me but I started writing my first non-fiction book which is all about helping businesses and people to be much more strategic with their PR and communication so they are able to see its value and reap the rewards. The novel, I'm afraid, is on the back-burner.
I've worked with some amazing people over the years and their advice has been invaluable, but I think the best advice is not to be distracted by too much advice. Sometimes, it's best to just go and do it rather than seeking out more advice.
My mum always had the best advice and her love and guidance is what I hold on to the most. I named my business after my mum 'Nellie' and if things ever get a bit tough or challenging, it's her words of wisdom that pop into my mind and keep me going.