Small Business: Solo acts - Vicki Febery
Vicki Febery, owner of INK Incorporated, which has been providing marketing services, primarily to New Zealand's independent publishers, for eight years.
What led you to setting up on your own?
While on maternity leave from one of New Zealand's largest magazine publishers, I began receiving requests for assistance with marketing planning and other ad hoc projects - both from larger publishers, as well as independents. I realised there was a gap in the market for the services I now offer.
My career until that point had seen me working in senior circulation and marketing roles for publishers in New Zealand and the UK. I'd also met many of New Zealand's independent publishers while working as promotions manager with a magazine distribution company.
I love our magazine industry - it's full of incredibly talented and passionate people. Being able to still be involved in the production of world class magazines, while working hours that fit my young family's needs, is the perfect fit for me.
What does your working week look like in terms of hours?
I typically work 15 to 20 hours a week, mainly within school hours.
What is December like for you?
During December I'm in planning mode for the first half year of the coming year - including working on some Mother's Day activities. I'm also beginning to get sales feedback to the Christmas marketing campaigns we've deployed, which is rewarding. Because many of my clients close for three weeks, there's lots of forward deadlines to meet for in-magazine offers, so the magazines can be sent off to print early.
When and where do you take your holiday?
We try to get away for a pre-Christmas break each December - and generally go camping with the kids and friends near Auckland for a weekend in early-mid December. It's great to escape the Christmas buying frenzy and we love having the prime camping spots and beaches virtually to ourselves. Christmas Day is spent at home with family and close friends. This year, we're holidaying for a week at Mangawhai with 14 members of my husband's family in January.
How do you cope with not having money coming in for a few weeks during the holiday break?
I have a good idea of monthly cash flow and plan for the peaks and troughs.
Do you have an accountant who helps you with cash flow?
I've got a fabulous accountant, who helps me manage the various commitments and gets my provisional tax sorted nice and early. He helps ensure there are no nasty surprises during the leaner months.
What happens to the business in your absence when you go on holiday?
Most of my clients shut down over the Christmas period, so taking the summer holiday breaks fits perfectly with their needs too. At other times of the year, I tend to work longer hours in the lead up to a break to fulfil my commitments, knowing the holiday pay-off is coming. Of course, technology means I can usually be contacted if it's necessary.
Why does working on your own suit you?
I love what I do and the hours fit our family - I can fit my work around the kids' commitments and be there for most of their special occasions. I like that I choose who I work with - and I genuinely like all my clients and the other contractors I work with.
What don't you like about it?
I'm a sociable person and enjoy the energy of busy offices. In the early days of consulting there were times I found working on my own a little isolating. These days, I hot desk from a couple of clients' offices several days a week - and work from my own home office on the other days. This meets my people-contact needs.
Any tips to others starting out about how to stay sane working as a one man/woman band?
Networks are really important - either join a networking group or create an informal one of your own. And celebrate your successes!