The Entrepreneur: Dee Gibbs, Liberty Communications

Having scaled her technology PR firm in the UK and US, Gibbs explains that her success has come from keeping promises and clever hiring...

Founder: Dee Gibbs
Company: Liberty Communications
Website: www.libertycomms.co.uk
Description in one line: One of the leaders in the technology sector, Liberty Communications provides comprehensive and creative PR and marketing expertise.
Previous companies: NA
Turnover: £1.4m

Business growth

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  •  We have a client services focus – we go the extra mile.
  •  We’re an extension of your business, not just an outside supplier.
  •  The depth and breadth of our media relationships and the way in which we garner press relationships sets us apart from the competition,

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Launching Liberty Communications, which has now been trading successfully for over 17 years. Alongside growing the business in the UK, we started our US operation from scratch and now have offices in New York and San Francisco.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business

Each day we look at cashflow, debtors/creditors and P&L/forecasts to keep tight control of our performance and progress across both the UK and US offices.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

We definitely have an international presence. We have offices in London, a business in the US and partners in all regions of the globe to ensure we are providing our clients with international, round the clock support. We’re boutique but we have a wide footprint.

Describe your growth funding path:

We’ve self-funded the business to date, which doesn’t mean we might not look for investment in the near term but our exit isn’t about a listing on an exchange.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

The internet! We’re a technology PR firm so every technology makes a difference, but the advancement of PR tools such as media databases and measurement tools have certainly made life easier for us. New channels of communication such as social media and the plethora of new devices also enable us to inform and engage with a wider community.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

We’re already on an international path. Our aim is to have built an attractive proposition over the next three years, that includes North American and European clientele and a turnover to match.

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

The hardest thing ever is having to let a member of the team go.

What was your biggest business mistake?

The biggest mistake I ever made was going into business with someone who didn’t share my ethos. When we parted ways it was difficult and it cost the business financially.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most?

One of the pieces of red tape that hampers business for us most as a PR agency is client procurement departments, and then banks who don’t understand the needs of small businesses.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Not letting go and not trusting employees to do the job they’re paid to do. Also, overpromising and under delivering as this leads to disappointment for both clients and agencies.

I certainly feel that promises are still one of the most important tools we have in building trust and evolving relationships.

How will your market look in three years?

Technology isn’t going away – this market is dynamic and currently funding is prevalent. There will be consolidation but so much innovation and growth too. As a consequence, the market is set to expand markedly over the next three years.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

Trust your own judgement and never try to please everyone because you can’t!

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

My Porsche 911 – I LOVE that car.

Executive education or learn it on the job?

I’d have to say learn it on the job  – it’s what I did, but one shouldn’t neglect the educational opportunities available today as they’re so much wider than what was available when I started my career.

What would make you a better leader?

People who inspire me make me a better leader. Even the best leaders can learn a thing or two about how to inspire their team.

Business book:

The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries.

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