Social Media & Freediving. A Match Made in Heaven!
An expert knowledge in social media. A passion for freediving. An unlikely duo, perhaps, but a well crafted business!
Tracey Howes has joined the Open Acceleration to seek further clarity and insight into her new Social Media Consultancy, Blue Mind Social.
“The name comes from the phrase used to describe the calm state of mind you achieve when you immerse yourself in water.“
When asked about the reasoning behind the name ‘Blue Mind Social’, and it is this state of mind Tracey aims to get across to Entrepreneurs when dealing with social media.
Read the interview between Silicon South and Tracey Howes on her business experience, her love for social and reasons you shouldn’t be afraid of implementing digital into your business.
It’s great to introduce Tracey Howes, a participant of the Open Accelerator programme who has just launched her new company, Blue Mind Social. Thank you for joining us today Tracey, it would be great if you could tell us about yourself, your experiences and what you enjoy doing?
From a young age I always liked the idea of having a business of my own. I liked the idea of creating something, building it and collaborating with other people. When I left school I worked with inspiring mentors. I didn’t realise at the time that they were mentors, but as I grew older I realised that was their role. I was 18, living in South Africa and these individuals took me under their wing and helped me develop with training and support. That grew my confidence in my own abilities.
When I moved to the UK, I was travelling and having a nice time. Eventually I got to thinking about how I was going to achieve this goal. I worked with entrepreneurs who were young, creative and had brilliant ideas. I worked with them from the development of their ideas to the delivery. This helped me realised what some of my strengths were – I could work alongside the ‘ideas person’ and do the implementation, management and organisation. When I was finally in a position to launch my first business in 2010, I felt without a shadow of a doubt that I could do it.
My first business was a restaurant marketing consultancy. It was something I was really passionate about. I had spent 10 years researching the industry – I tried to go to every food show in London, read every related book and restaurant reviews, I ate out a lot, connected with food bloggers and built a network. In 2010 Facebook was becoming more business-oriented. I loved the idea of social media for business having already been an early adopter of LinkedIn. I enjoyed networking face to face, but now you could do that online and that was revolutionary. I had previously run a network in the luxury sector, so I took that knowledge and combined it with the technical opportunities on social media. Being in a restaurant environment I was able to practice online and see how it worked. Personal branding was becoming a catch phrase as you could use social media to create this. I didn’t have a website for the first 5 years of my business. All my work was via referrals on social media. Because of this, I literally devoted myself to social media marketing for 10 years.
Moving on to where you find yourself today. Having just launched your new business Blue Mind Social, can you give us some insight into your decision to start up this company and what it is all about?
It was a combination of things. I had run my restaurant consultancy for 9 years and wanted a change at the end of 2018. I moved to Bournemouth and had been here for 6 months. I wanted to learn about the local community and businesses, so I joined network groups like Silicon South, and used LinkedIn. Again, social media saved my life [laughs]. It opened doors and I started to meet people. In February, before lockdown, I had made a conscious decision to niche my business and change the format. Then Covid happened, I lost half my clients and as awful as that was, it also freed me up to start thinking about this new business and how it could look. From June until now [so 5 months] I have been planning how the business would look and now finally launching – which I think is pretty good going for a start-up!
The idea for my business was based on what people always ask me for help with in their business. The answer… social media. I have 10 years experience with a broad marketing view and like to take a more holistic approach.
I started freediving two years ago and it changed my life. Reduced anxiety and helped with clarity and focus. Whenever I felt stressed I’d get in the water so I started researching water immersion therapy, breathwork and how it can transform your body on a cellular level. The science behind it is fascinating. So I tried to find a way to link this activity that I love and its health benefits with how I work. It’s early stages, but I’m very excited to begin this journey, using the tool [social] and my passion [water] to create a new way of working. So when Silicon South advertised this Open Accelerator, I knew I needed the support. I’m in!
You have mentioned there about having your unique idea, and wanting to explore it further with the support of the Open Accelerator, what do you hope to get out of the programme?
The first word that comes to mind is clarity. We looked at value proposition and Blue Ocean strategies, for example, which can be complex processes. I had looked at these before when I was starting my first business, but I couldn’t get my head around it. Silicon South’s Accelerator provides a safe space where you’re surrounded by knowledgeable people who have either gone on a similar journey, or will see things in a different way. So clarity of mind, clarity for my brand, confidence that I’m on the right track and knowing I have support if I need it is a winning combination.
It’s fair to say you’ve been there and done it when starting up a business. Tackling the fears and risks often attached with a new enterprise. Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
This is where reaching out to people who know more than you about what you want to achieve is really useful. I think that can be a challenge for some who have perhaps been employed for most of their lives and our now looking to start their own company. There’s also the fear of the generation gap and technology. That really is an unnecessary fear. If you’ve got a great idea no matter who you are, and this Open Accelerator proves that with such a broad mix of people and ages, you can do it. For example, I have a client who is in his late 60s, who’s never used Instagram, and now I can’t get him off it! If you’re worried about knowledge, then I cannot recommend networking highly enough. You get to ask people’s opinions and test your ideas. As everyone loves giving their opinion, I’ve never had anyone say to me, “No I’m not interested, go away”. So having those experiences has given me the courage to do business number 3. I’m still learning by putting myself in different situations, exploring new technology and challenging my thinking. Some days, I feel like a computer!