Posted: Tue 19th Nov 2019
Rita Peacock is the founder of Untapped FR, a digital platform and community that connects skilled and experienced female professionals and freelancers with businesses looking for service providers. The Enterprise Nation member shares her story.
I was inspired to create the platform after many years of doing freelance work in media, digital publishing and marketing for individuals and businesses.
I previously worked for a well-known parenting magazine as their editor and area manager. I also worked with various female entrepreneurs and freelancers, particularly parents providing media and marketing services. I've since spent over 10 years doing freelance and remote work on and off while taking care of my child and I've gained a lot of experience and insight into the world of freelancing, remote and flexible working.
Through my previous work and collaborations with other female entrepreneurs, I've experienced first hand how challenging and time consuming it can be, working as a freelancer, handling day-to-day work activities while caring for the family. I have also worked with other career women, particularly parents who at some point had to leave the workforce due to family commitments, lack of flexible work and childcare arrangements, caring needs, ill-health and lack of family friendly policies at workplaces.
In 2016 I left my editorial role with the magazine in order to pursue my studies in business management focusing on innovation and enterprise and now offering business consulting services alongside my media and marketing services.
My background in journalism, PR and advertising led me into the world of freelance and remote working where I offer services to individuals, start-ups, businesses and organisations including not-for-profit organisations.
Due to this much needed service, Untapped FR is fast developing into a vital service among female professionals, freelancers and organisations across the UK. The platform provides female both female professionals and businesses with an end-to-end management solution and tools that enable them to connect, engage, collaborate as well as schedule and manage their work opportunity activities from contract work, project-based through to long-term work opportunities, as well as communicate with each other.
We partner with and help businesses and organisations to tap into this unique community of female professionals and freelancers. I strongly feel that there is great untapped potential in these professional women who due to other varying reasons decided to become independent professionals and freelancers. They have skills, knowledge and experience that could be very valuable for organisations looking for professional services such as start start-ups, SMEs and larger organisations across the UK.
We also work with organisations and businesses who are looking to attract, acquire and retain skilled women and support gender diversity and participation in workplaces.
Just like many start-ups out there I have experienced a lot of challenges before, during and after starting my business.
Firstly the biggest hurdle has been lack of sufficient capital or cash flow to keep the business going during the first few months. As most banks are reluctant to finance start-ups or new businesses (due to risks involved), It has been difficult to develop the business at a faster pace hence moved the official launch a few times.
On an exciting note, Untapped FR has been chosen to take part in the Natwest Back Her Business, a campaign by NatWest and Crowdfunder to support more women to start their businesses. This campaign will help me raise money for Untapped FR through crowdfunding. Hopefully this business cash booster will help open future funding opportunities.
Since setting up Untapped FR I have been able to collaborate and work with various female professionals who either work for themselves or are considering self-employment. I have received support through The Women's Organisations in Liverpool and other networking groups in the area.
I plan to use their facilities to raise more awareness about the services that I provide for women.
I have also contacted various organisations that I would like to collaborate with whose aims align with Untapped FR's mission of connecting female professionals and freelancers looking for work opportunities with forward-thinking businesses and organisations looking for professional service providers. Strategic partnerships with organisations with professional service providers such as mentors, coaches and advisors are also in progress.
My next big goal is to further develop the management solution to offer more free and paid features to both professionals and businesses. The new funding will also go towards the designing and creation of both online and offline workshops that help career women that are thinking about joining the world of freelancing and self-employment.
My biggest challenge was not being able to secure enough funding and in good time to get this program development off the ground. But with the help of the Natwest Back her Business crowdfunding, the program development is now possible.
Enterprise Nation has helped me to make connections with other businesses and individuals who are business owners or professionals.
I am particularly inspired by Richard Branson, especially the way he helps other start-ups, the way he communicates with customers and the way he communicates and collaborate with other people, employees and businesses.
The three tips for business success are passion, patience, communication.
1. Be passionate about your business or what you do.
2. Be very patient as starting a business, especially by yourself, as it can be very challenging and frustrating.
3. Always communicate well with everyone you are dealing with including customers, employees and other stakeholders.
Starting your own business can both be exciting and challenging with lots of tears and laughter, so learn to take each day as it comes and treat mistakes as lessons learnt and rejections as protection from doing something wrong or following a wrong path altogether.
Top image by Diana Celine Photography