Entrepreneurship and Innovation – Interview with Becky Simms CEO and Founder of Reflect Digital

I first met Becky Simms in the lead up to Digital Elite Day in June this year. Becky runs her own business, speaks at many conferences including International Search Summit and she recently introduced a 4 day week at her company. I wanted to find out what it was like to run her own business and the effects of implementing a 4 day week at an agency, something I thought may have been unheard of in the UK, but something I wanted to happen.

When did you set up your own business and why?

Reflect Digital was founded in my little flat back in 2011. I had worked in two agencies and seen two different environments, but still felt there was a place to do things differently. I had always dreamed of running my own business, my dad had been my inspiration as he ran a business and I always wanted to be like him, I just did not know what that business would be.

I wanted to create an agency that truly put the client’s results at the forefront but also, and just as important, that the team were put first as well. I wanted to create somewhere that the team had the autonomy to do what they are best at and a safe place to be creative and to challenge the norm.

Becky Simms and her dog

2. Do you think you need to have a certain number of years experience before branching out on your own?

Yes and no. I had 5 years work experience, which helped, but I did not have experience of hiring people, doing accounts, being in charge of HR etc… I do a lot of work with students and I always say that I believe to get the base skills needed to grow a team you need to have had an amazing boss and a terrible boss. You need to understand that scale so you can identify where you sit and ensure you are never that terrible boss and always striving to be that amazing boss.

There are entrepreneurs out there doing an amazing job without any experience, but the key to this is being open to feedback and help. I too have become more open to this and realised it is not a failing to need help and advice, you cannot expect yourself to know everything, especially when every day can lead you into unknown territory.

3. Your company introduced a 4 day week last year, what prompted you to do this?

Our 4-day week was born out of wanting to do something different, we wanted to switch up the way we worked but needed to keep consistency and collaboration at the forefront. Consistency was important for our clients and collaboration was important for the work we do – we are hugely collaborative and therefore this ruled out offering extremely flexible working which can result in the team working whatever hours they wish. We also wanted to put our team’s wellness at the forefront, working in an agency can be stressful, therefore ensuring we all have time to recharge is important to deliver the best results we can and get the right balance between work and play.

We were chatting to Jonny, who is now our Group CEO, and LAB were about to bring in the 4-day week and this seemed to fit everything we wanted it to. It offered consistency for clients that they would know when we were working and we would be open 4 days a week. Plus it did not stop the collaboration, just changed it slightly as we are now only all in work Tues-Thurs.

We all work longer days for the four days, e.g. 08:00-18:15. So the agency has not lost any billable time and we truly are more productive in this time. We do have the 4-day week as an optional benefit, as it is only a benefit if it works for you individually, so we do have a couple of team members that opt for normal hours across 5 days.

One of our values is challenging the norm and this seemed like a fantastic way to do just that and we have not looked back.

TEAM at an Awards night

4. What has been the result of the 4 day week?

The results have on the whole been fantastic. The only slight negative is that we are only all together Tues-Thurs, so it does mean we have to plan internal meetings around this.

The main results have been:

  • Productivity increase – we have seen over a 20% increase in productivity. We put this down to the longer days and the drive to get things done so the team can truly enjoy their 3 days off not worrying about work.
  • Staff wellness is up also by over 20%, people get more downtime by having the three days together, offering more time to relax, see friends/family and to do what they love doing outside of work.
  • Job satisfaction is up 90%.
  • Our revenue at the end of FY in March was up 25% recording our best year ever and this current year is set to be even better.

Our clients have also noted benefits in getting to work with a wider team, as on certain days their normal contact is not in. This offers more collaboration, more ideas and also less reliance on one team member as the main point of contact.

5. Do you think experience or a degree is more important in online marketing and why?

I 100% think experience outweighs a degree in our industry. The pace of change is high and to truly be good within digital one of the biggest skills is adaptability and drive to test and learn. Degrees cannot keep up, we often take on year placement students or interns over the summer and they all learn so much more with us than they feel like they do within their degrees.

4_Day_Week_One_Year

6. What has been the highlight of your career and why?

Wow, there have been a few, recently becoming part of the LAB group, winning Digital Leader at the Wirehive Awards and our recent office move are very close. But actually, the day that has given me the best feeling ever, was our student conference Aspiration Digital last year, we are about to run our second, so this might just top it! This event was born out of my frustration that school students do not realise all the amazing possibilities in our industry, they are so tech-savvy, but they do not know what goes on behind the scenes and where they may fit into.

I started by running student workshops and inviting them into our agency, but this was a maximum of 10 students at a time, which felt quite slow from an impact perspective. So I came up with the idea to run an event, roping in as many amazing speakers that I could to share their experiences within marketing, design, development and the business side of running an agency. The result was the most inspiring day for over 200 students. You can see last year’s video here.

Becky and Team

I believe it is our responsibility to help schools and to drive this knowledge, the teachers have a curriculum to follow and so many industries to be aware of, we are the experts and we need to be there inspiring the students to try and stop the digital skills gap that is occurring.”

 

Thank you Becky for your time. Really looking forward to your talk at International Search Summit Barcelona. As a media partner for IntSS, all readers will have 10% off the price of a ticket, simply use ISSBCN10JT at checkout.

Inspirational and Motivating People – Areej Abuali

As we are coming into a new “school year”, I wanted this site, SEO Jo Blogs to have more information to help those in the industry, whether it is guidance about the next career move or confirmation about a project they are working on, or just motivation if they are in a bad place right now. Therefore part of the blog will feature interviews from inspirational and motivating people. I have found that hope is something that can easily get crushed but it is the one thing that keeps people motivated. I also realised that everyone has a choice in what they do career wise, but each choice can have consequences, which can both be bad and good. Hope can sometimes be crushed when that career choice has negative consequences. 

Areej at BrightonSEO

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Digital Elite Day Recap – June 6, 2019

Digital Elite Day took place on Thursday June 6th and I was honored to be the MC for the Search Elite track. This year was bigger and better than ever before with 26 speakers and over 200 attendees. Below is a write up of some of the key points from the Search Elite track.

PWAs SEO: Optimising for the Future of the Web

EU Search Personality of 2018, Aleyda Solis and founder of Orainti was up first at the Search Elite track.  Aleyda said that apps provided a fragmented and vertical specificities app experience. They can be expensive to develop, but we end up installing a lot of them.

Aleyda Solis

Why do we install apps?

  • The reason is that it is easier to access apps through the home screen
  • Apps can use additional phone features
  • Mobile websites speed and usability
  • You need internet to access web content.
  • SO mobile web is also broken.  BUT it is not more broken than the app one.
  • Because of this we are sometimes forced to download apps.

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Search London Turns 8

Earlier this year, Search London the meetup I organise for those in SEO, PPC and Social, turned 8 years old. We have managed to grow to over 2000 members through the 6 – 8 events held a year, the great speakers we have and our members.

We celebrated the birthday at Bounce, Holborn and we had three sponsors to help put on the party. OnCrawl, Lukasz Zelezny and Yard. Lukasz has been a supporter of Search London from the beginning and it was the first time he sponsored the event.

Digital is a small world. I wrote about the event on the Ayruz website who built this site for Search London. Ayruz has offices in Kerala India and in the US. I met the owner and founder of the company, Sanil when I was contracting in London in 2014. in February, Luksaz went to India and was speaking in Kerala at the SEM Rush event, where Digital Director, Nivin from Ayruz met.

Lukasz’ photographer friend, Mariusz from http://Grafimar.co.uk captured the evening with some great photos. All can be found on the SearchLDN Facebook page.

 

SearchLondon Cake

Digital Elite Day – The Best Search and CRO Conference

I am proud to be part of Digital Elite Day, the best SEO and CRO conference in 2019.

I have been involved with Search and Conversion Elite since June 2016 and have attended everyone in London. This year we have rebranded as Digital Elite and there will be practical and intensive workshops the day before the conference, which takes place on Thursday, June 6th.

There will be two tracks, one for search and one for CRO and the venue isProspero House, 241 Borough High Street, SE1 1GA. Jackie Bissell Craig Rayner and Andy Brown are the team behind Digital Elite Day and thanks to Under2, we have a brand new website.

DED speaker montage

There are more than 22 speakers on the day, including a key note from Karl Gilis and an SEO Clinic Q and A with Jono and Nick.

This is certainly one conference, you cannot afford to miss. I wrote some of the key tips and take aways from the search session last year here. I cannot wait until the Digital Elite Day, taking place June 6th this year.

The conference is for those more technically advanced both in search and CRO. You will have an all day access to the speakers and you can speak to them over lunch and breakfast. There were some healthy and sweet options last year and we will have a varied menu in June as well. We expect there to be just under 300 attendees, this is the right size to network with everyone. Doors open at 8am and we will have drinks until 7:00pm. Attendees will also have unlimited beer, wine and soft drinks as well as swag bag including t-shirt on arrival.

Register for your ticket today. Search London is a media partner of Digital Elite so contact me for a special discount.

Search London’s 8th Birthday Party – Feb 4th, 2019

Search London is officially turning 8 years old next month and we are holding a birthday party.

I took over the meetup from Judith Lewis back in October 2010 and it has grown from 200 members to over 2150 members. I am happy to see how it has grown and am pleased to say we have between 6 and 8 events a year.

In the past we had International SEO consultant and EU Search Personality, Aleyda Solis, Pierre Far, as well as Pete from Kaizen, Fili Weise, Nick Wilsdon from Vodafone and Chris Green from award winning Strategiq.

We will be hosting our 8th birthday party at Bounce in Holborn on Monday, February 4th at 6:00pm. We have the room until 11:00pm so reserve this date in your diary !

We will have 90 – 100 digital marketers at the birthday party with drinks, food and of course cake. We had some great parties in the past where speakers shared insightful tips.

Search London is an independent organisation and we are looking for sponsors to help put on the event. Have your brand in front of a captive audience and network with some of the best search professionals.

Contact SEO Jo Blogs or Tim Sheed  to get involved with our 8th birthday party.

Birthday Cake

Migrating from HTTP to HTTPs

I am sure many of you have seen the migration of HTTP to HTTPs (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). But when did it start? Back in August, 2014 when Google announced it was a ranking factor. They said the top priority for Google is security. They said that they are working to make the internet more safe and were very helpful to provide resources to help webmasters fix their security breaches.

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