Welcome to Inside View where business leaders and owners tell us how they got where they have and what makes them tick! This months Inside View interview is with Fiona Allman-Treen, Managing Director of FAT Promotions who are based at the Innovation Centre in St. Leonards on Sea.
What’s been your best business deal so far?
At an exhibition a few years back I got chatting with a guy about his dog (!) – turned out he ran a huge publishing company and they run the UK’s biggest dog publication. He was there to find a new provider for his five websites who would be innovative, pro-active and work collaboratively with his existing in house team to take the company forward – our speciality!
We still run those sites (plus a few more for that same company besides) and have regular meetings to discuss the latest technology and how we can apply this to keep them ahead of their competitors. With one million people visiting their sites each day, they recently told me they see us not as a supplier but as their strategic partners in business. Plus they are lovely people and we really enjoy working with them, which helps.
Not delegating! Being a good boss is about far more than paying the wages and buying Christmas lunch and I found it tough to trust my staff to make the right decisions, then let them make the (occasional) wrong one! Loosening the reigns gives a person ownership and feel like they contribute, rather than belong to the company. One guy worked for me for four years and I never even gave him a key for the office! Shocking really.
Victoria Beckham which may surprise some people. Often dismissed as a fashion dolly, she was actually a millionaire in her own rightlong before her husband was, plus her marketing and branding prowess is quite stunning in the transitional worlds she inhabits. Fashion, music, perfume – these are all generally considered ever-changing, yet her brands consistently out-perform the competition. Her design input for the Range Rover Evoque made that car their best selling model of all time, the woman’s amazing!
To find a way to bridge the gap between the worlds of education and business. The removal or reduction of Careers Advisors in secondary schools is a greater issue then we yet realise as a society and I would like to see an independent, government-backed organisation whose sole intent is to find decent work placements for students who actively want to work in the industry they are sent to.
We support all local schools with work placements and it’s heart breaking when we occasionally have someone sitting in our office who wants to be a vet and they were “told to come” to our web design agency. It wastes everyone’s time and disenchants the young person as well as the business. We can’t put more pressure on schools to fill this role, it needs to be dealt with as a business.
Not moving to better premises sooner. We were in grotty little council-owned offices which I thought didn’t affect how clients and staff viewed my company, until I had someone turn down a job offer because he didn’t want to leave his car outside! It wasn’t until we moved to the purpose built Innovation Centre that we saw a real shift in regard and everyone took what we did that little bit more seriously.
Camping! I’m an absolute hippy at heart and love nothing more than driving my campervan to some remote place and sitting on a blanket in a field. Or tinkering with my cars and bikes in the garage – the reason my nails are always short, the oil comes out easier!
Having lunch a few years back with my first ever customer – who is still with us today – and discussing how our companies have grown and changed since we started working together. Back then I had no staff and his son was a toddler – now he works with him in the business and I’m in a room full of great people – made us both feel a bit old really!
Tricky, as I’m really a nerd at heart so love what I do. Probably running the Careers Advice service mentioned above, might still do that one day.
Best business advice?
Don’t ever think “I’ve made it” because that’s exactly the point where it all hits the fan. Too many people I’ve known in business say things like “it should be easier by now” or “I should be a millionaire by now” and they don’t get that it never ends – business is always growing, evolving and changing and that’s what’s great about it. Take your foot off the pedal and you stop – simple as that.
Sport or no sport?
I love watching F1, Moto GP and Superbikes but I’m just a watcher, no actual sporting activity for me please.
Any advice for young people?
Don’t think big, think MASSIVE! You can be anything at all that you set your mind to, stuff anyone who says otherwise.
10 years time?
I’ll still look 36:)
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