Interview with Wendy Paintsil – Successful Entrepreneur
Wendy Paintsil founded @sixtyseven communications, a PR and social enterprise in Wrexham (North Wales) two years ago after being made redundant. @sixtyseven is now a successful PR establishment that helps community cohesion projects as well as taking on PR projects. Their most successful project to date is The Wrexham Community choir, aimed at breaking down barriers in the community; the multi cultural choir has over 160 members and has performed at music festivals all over Wales.
1. What made you choose to start up @67 communications? I had thought many times about setting up my own business but when I was made redundant in 2009, I decided to give it a go and put my effort in to making it work. I had worked previously in the field of social affairs broadcasting, media training, community development and press office work and wanted to combine all of these areas of interest into a company which worked to break down communication barriers and give access to the media to voices which are not usually heard or to those who find it difficult to do so. As a social enterprise, I wanted to create a company with a difference – one that sole’s objective was not pursuit of money but had people at its centre. I also aimed to provide training and create long term job opportunities to people living in Wrexham who have incredible talent and skills who often have to leave the area to find work. I wish I had started years ago!
2. What were the difficulties? The main difficulty in setting up a business without capital is that there are no financial resources available to assist new start ups based in Wrexham town centre. Whilst there are a plethora of government funded agencies that advertise services to assist business – unfortunately, these are mainly sign posting services and in reality fail to deliver real support. I spent many months visiting many of these services to find myself back at square one. I felt I had wasted a lot of time and the main thing I learnt was I was taking time and energy away from focusing on developing the business and doing actual work.
There is a personal financial sacrifice to be made which does impact on your family life. Working to create a successful company means you learn to do without what you were used to, sacrificing holidays and other things which it used to be easy to waste money on. It also means you never switch off from work, being ill is something you have to work through and there is always something to do. There is a plus side though, it means you can work to drive forward what makes your heart sing, you keep your integrity and whilst some jobs are mundane – you set your own goals, you meet fabulous people, have the opportunity to act on your ideas and work on fantastic projects and there is never a day which you dread seeing your boss.
3. What is special about @67s approach to PR? Whilst atsixyseven provides usual PR services, we are also specialists in the field of multi-cultural PR – engaging with many organisations and issues which affect the diverse communities living in the area.
4. What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given? Tough question as I have been given so many pieces of advice by business advisors, followed them and realised that I’ve been sent down the wrong path. I think one piece of advice given to me many years ago was that “it’s better to regret the things you’ve done rather than regret those things you never did”. So whatever the future holds – I had a go!
5. And what would be the best piece of advice you would give to anybody that would want to start up their own social enterprise company? It is not for me to advise anyone – I can pass on my experience but anyone who insists that there is only one way to do something is probably someone I’d ignore. You are the best person to advise yourself. This is what I try to do but know there is always room for improvement – Treat people well. Trust myself. Be open and be willing to learn. Never thinking my job has more value or significance than someone else’s – I’m lucky at the moment but never take it for granted – we are more than a job title. Take time to think and plan. Take a walk every day and have time to switch off even for a short while – it’s amazing what great ideas I have when I’m away from sitting at a computer screen. Laugh. Talking to people and being engaged and aware of what’s going on around me. Being curious and never forgetting the importance of my family and friends – they’re my biggest support for when things are good or bad – why I am who I am and why I do what I do.
Here is a video bonus where Wendy answered the question – ‘In what ways did you generate an income to help you first start out in freelance PR?’
The interview has been shortened to meet our blog guidelines but if you are interested in PR we highly recommend you read the full interview with Wendy: Elexu interview with Wendy Paintsil – full.