Sector trends

A female-led PR business with purpose

We hear how this business owner combined a successful cashflow strategy with purposeful clients.

Although it wasn’t a lifelong ambition to set up a business, Riannon moved swiftly from stressed-out employee to freelancer to setting up a PR and communications agency that she wanted to work for but couldn’t find. “At last count, I think 7% of women made it as CEOs in the FTSE 100, so creating my own agency wasn’t something I really thought about.”

One of the first obstacles was just after the launch. “About six months in, a company with a similar name got in touch threatening to sue us. I was 25 at that time. We had to rebrand and create a new name and that’s why our name is spelt ‘Lem-uhn’, and we’re now trademarked to avoid anything like that happening again. It was a big learning.”

An up-to-date business model

At present, Riannon’s business has an all-female staff. This isn’t deliberate, she says, but more due to the industry being female-heavy – and perhaps her move away from the traditional business model. The flexible policies such as core hours of 10am to 3pm and additional leave for severe menstruation and menopause symptoms and pregnancy loss resonate with women. The fact she gave up the London-based office premises last May “because no one really wanted to use them” means employees can work from anywhere.

“We’ve recently introduced flexible Fridays, so if people want to work their hours Monday to Thursday and have Friday off, they can. I think this is key for women and people who are neurodiverse – one of our disabled clients is open about this.”

Monitoring cashflow helps ease challenging times

An optimist by nature, Riannon is adept at turning a bad patch into an opportunity. During the cost-of-living squeeze many of her business’s longstanding clients had their budgets cut, so January last year was quiet. “At the time you never think it’s good to have losses. But, on reflection, it can help you move forward. We took that opportunity to overhaul our marketing. We put a marketing strategy in place and saw that come to fruition when the market started to warm up.”

The fact she has a cashflow buffer gave her peace of mind during this period; she essentially follows the advice of retaining three months’ worth of savings in her account. “It’s built up from my first months of freelancing when I didn’t pay myself. This has been a real safety net, and last January, when it was a quiet month, there were no worries. The temptation is to reinvest but I try to keep that cash reserve separate because it feels more secure.”

Now that the business is more established, there’s more space for projection and forward planning, she adds: “We’re doing two years in advance for our profit and loss”.

She believes different types of objectives – both in saving and business – can be beneficial. “We have ‘reach goals’ and ‘minimum goals’ because it’s good to be ambitious but actually it can be disheartening if you don’t hit them. This works with a savings strategy as well – we have different pots that we put money into for, say, VAT or business tax, then we know it’s money we’re not going to touch.

Putting growth plans into action

Riannon is planning to employ another two full-time and one part-time staff members this year. “We’ve always had influencer and engagement within the company but we’re hiring someone to focus on that more. Our long-term goals are to expand the service we provide because we’d love to be the go-to marketing agency for purposeful brands (Lem-uhn is currently going through a B Corp application).”

She also has some regional expansion plans for different countries but explains that PR is such a specialist area it requires meticulous research if you want to do it well. “It’s such a different landscape so you need to have specialists in different countries. That’s our long-term plan to expand internationally.”

Finding support in female networks

There’s a female founder community called Female Founders Rise which has a real growth mindset, points out Riannon. Through this, she’s “going to a business school training day about growth, and there are lots of other learning opportunities”, adding that a female community can be more supportive and welcoming. “I was at an award show last week and another female founder was saying how she found female networking events easier to navigate and more supportive.”

Parting thoughts? She believes the team behind you is key. “There’s a great piece of advice which is that as a business owner you should employ people who are more clever than you. That’s definitely right.”


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