Rebecca Coupe graduated with a BA (Hons) in Theology and Religious Studies in 2011 and has since gone on to set up a successful online marketing business; Infinity Digital.
When it came to applying to University I had absolutely no idea what career I wanted to pursue or what subject to choose to “leave my options open.” I finally settled on Theology and Religious Studies because I enjoyed the subject at school and hoped the research and communication skills I’d gain would help in my career (luckily I was right!).
Exploring options through experience
I knew I needed to get a better idea of what type of job I’d enjoy and gain some real experience of the world of work so I decided to have a gap year. I found a job as an office junior and quickly progressed from making cups of tea and answering the phone to get involved with everything from customer service to sales, marketing and even product development. What really inspired me was the entrepreneurial spirit of the business and, although I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I now knew that one day I wanted to run my own business.
When I started my course at Leeds University my boss offered me a part-time job as a Marketing Executive so I continued to work there until I graduated in 2011. I found that I loved working in marketing so I started volunteering with Leeds Action at LUU and became the Publicity Officer for Green Streets in my second year. I also dabbled in business by selling jewellery I made via Facebook.
Getting my first job after uni
Even with all the experience I’d gained, it was tough securing a job in marketing and I ended up working in a call centre for a few months. It was far from my ideal job but it was actually a great experience as it helped me to become more confident at selling and taught me how to work well under pressure.
Eventually I secured a job working for a public relations agency as a PR and Social Media Executive. For anyone who wants to get into marketing, I’d strongly recommend getting experience both in-house (or “client side”) and agency side. Although you’ll be doing a similar job, it’s very different working for an agency where you’ll be working with a number of different clients and you’re likely to be involved with customer service and maybe even pitching for new business as well as your day-to-day marketing responsibilities. People tend to find they prefer working for an agency or in-house and it helps when you’re at work if you have an understanding of the other side.
Although I enjoyed my job and I was learning a lot, by now I was positive that I wanted to start my own business. It was all I could think about but taking the plunge into self-employment is a scary step, especially when you have bills to pay!
Taking the plunge
I got talking to a friend about it and we decided to start a catering company in our spare time as I loved baking cupcakes and he loved cooking. We did jobs on evenings and weekends and it was great fun (although being in a business partnership is not easy) but in December 2013 personal circumstances pushed me into taking the plunge and starting my own, full-time business.
I set up Infinity Digital in January 2014, with help from a great local initiative called Rotherham Youth Enterprise. My business provides digital marketing services, such as social media, search engine optimisation and copywriting, to small and medium sized businesses across Yorkshire. I had no money to buy a website, advertise or anything like that so I started out by contacting everyone I’d ever worked with to let them know what I was doing and within a few days I had my first client!
The business has gone from strength to strength over the past 18 months; I now have a solid client base and I’ve even been lucky enough to win two awards – Most Successful New Business at the South Yorkshire Business Awards and Most Innovative Business at the Rotherham Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2014.
If you’re thinking about starting your own business, our Spark team offer a range of support – from advice, access to funding, workshops and more – to help you. Take a look.