Guest speaking at a major London event transformed my marketing consultancy business.

Two years ago, I took to the stage at Stylist Live 2015 to present ‘Start a business for under £100’ on behalf of Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation. It was a fantastic opportunity to talk to an audience of budding entrepreneurs and interview two fabulous women on stage about their experiences of setting up in business – Martha Keith (Love Give Ink) and Imogen Bowen (WordWorks Media).

The session was so popular that just moments before we were due to go on, we were moved to a larger room (eek!) and were also asked to present it twice (back to back) because they couldn’t fit everyone into one session. 2 x 45 minutes presentations in a row (with just a few swigs of water in between!) is thirsty work, but we did it and it was a fantastic experience! I loved it.

Stylist Live 2015: Imogen Bowen, Paula Hutchings & Martha Keith.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself outside your comfort zone

The key learning for me, was that sometimes in business, you need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone if you want to grow.

As a mum of two young boys (at the time, they were just 3 and 5 years old), it was some time since I had presented to a large audience (2 years to be precise!). I think it would be fair to say that I had been mildly terrified at various points in the run up to going on stage, particularly with it being such a large event. But it was such an amazing opportunity that I wanted to embrace it and accept the challenge.

Embrace opportunities & great things may come your way

And it all turned out rather well. Being a guest speaker at Stylist Live has led to many great things for Marketing Vision:

A Top 5 podcast:

Our session was a ‘Top 5 most popular talks’ podcast at Stylist Live 2015 and continued to be promoted long after the event (which is pretty impressive given the volume of talks and presentations that ran over the 3-days).

New guest speaking opportunities:

Unknown to me, a Country Living Editor was sitting in the audience taking notes. She called a few weeks later to ask if I would come along and present at their upcoming Spring Fair. Absolutely! At the Fair I was in the same line-up at skincare guru Liz Earle (who kindly then contributed to a blog on our site) and had three fabulous guest panellists to interview – Gemma Whates (All By Mama), Julie Dodsworth and Emma Boyles (The Little Grey Sheep).

Presenting at Country Living’s first Build-A-Business Day.

Touring with the Country Living team:

Following this, I was then invited to join the Country Living team at their first ever Build-A-Business Day in October 2106, and subsequently re-joined them the following year in 4 different locations as they took the event nationally. Such an exciting time! To be in speaker line-ups with remarkable business women such as Emma Bridgewater and Sophie Conran was simply amazing! (Sophie was also kind enough to share some top tips for getting into retail with our community).

Being paid to write:

I have since been commissioned to write several features for Country Living and contributed expert advice to their fabulous ‘Turn Your Business into a Hobby’ books (Volume 1 and 2) – both a fantastic resource for anyone thinking of starting a business.

Being profiled in a major national title:

Country Living ran a full-page profile on me in their June 2017 issue which has led to lots of enquiries and new work, for which I am very grateful.

Profile page in Country Living’s June issue.

Guest speaking alongside truly inspirational women:

Martha Keith (Love Give Ink) invited me to speak at their fabulous Chiswick Talks Business event last October – along with Alison Battisby (Avocado Social), Steph Douglas (Don’t Buy Her Flowers) and Cath Kidston. Again, all incredible, inspiring women who have created flourishing, aspirational businesses – I felt honoured to be there with them!

You need to take risks if you want to grow

So, my main takeaway from this experience is simply this – if an opportunity comes your way, be brave and grab hold of it with both hands! Sometimes you have to trust your instincts and take your own path, rather than following generic advice about how to grow a business (something I feel very passionately about!). Every business is different.

But you do have to take risks and push yourself out of your comfort zone if you want to harness new opportunities and grow. It won’t just come to you. In all that you do, remember to be authentic, be grateful and be sure to pass on opportunities to others in the same way that people were kind enough to do so for you.

Do you have an example of an opportunity that came your way and transformed your business? Do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!