I am a communications specialist, entrepreneur and mum, sometimes in that order, usually in no order at all – whoever shouts the loudest. I split my time between communications work, running my newly launched children’s e-boutique, The Clothes Tree, and building another small empire made entirely from Lego. A politics graduate from Glasgow University, I've spent over 14 years working in the media, including a spell with Blue Peter, and I'm still amazed at what can be done with sticky back plastic, toilet roll holders, pipe cleaners, silver paint and a Granny.
Nobody has ever said this to me (unless I’m singing), so I’m taking that as a good sign. I have also never met Simon Cowell, although I did once receive a call from a man who said “Hi Mhairi, it’s Simon Cowell here” and I thought, fantastic, I didn’t even have to audition and he wants me to be a global star. Wrong Simon Cowell. Not a dream I’m likely to pursue.
If I take the minutiae out of my world (with pain – it’s the little things and the nitty gritty that interests me the most), I can bundle my life into the following categories: Owner of The Clothes Tree, the UK’s only online dedicated second hand designer clothing website for children; Director of Mhairi Clarke Public Relations, a thriving little boutique PR consultancy; Communications Consultant for BBC ONE’s Bionic Vet, Noel Fitzpatrick (Have you seen Oscar the Cat and his blades..?) and I do a fair bit of writing for various publications.
I’m staring out my window right this minute thinking the following... “Imagine how successful my business could be if I had huge numbers of my target audience following The Clothes Tree on Twitter and what would my business would be like if I didn’t ever use Twitter?”
The contrast is huge. I have a colourful, busy happy picture with lots of buzz and action contrasting with a black and white picture of me dressed in a Victorian costume writing a marketing plan with a quill.
You have days when the seas are calm, the skies are blue and plans are piecing together very nicely. Then there are choppier days when you’ll draw upon your strength, focus and determination to keep moving forward, and, of course, the dark and stormy days where pure instinct and adrenaline kick in along with the will to survive and stay afloat, with or without a lifejacket, while the sharks circle around you.
When I was young, any time I saw a harrowing news story on television where people needed help – e.g. floods, famine, drought, abject poverty - I used to think “If everyone in the country gave 1p each, that would raise hundreds of thousands for that cause and help to solve the problem.
Then if there’s another problem somewhere else in the world, we can all donate a penny again because that’s not too much, and that problem will be solved too”. And so on. We can save the world with our pennies!
Gary is evidence that we can all go through the wilderness years (or months if you’re lucky) and come out of it better, stronger and more successful, albeit with a few scratches and bruises.
That’s good to know if you’re doubting why you ever started something, wondering when what you started might finish or wondering how what you started might finish.
I’m delighted for the man who has just pulled the biggest, most sparkly rabbit out of the hat for our Queen and Country and bagged himself an OBE.
I’m feeling like there’s a bit of gentle revolution in the way businesses are operating in their competitive environment which has sparked a whole new wave of collaborative working.
If you segment your competitors into different types of competitor, I will bet you that in there somewhere is a company you would rather like to partner in some way.
I look at the other businesses I know of, and the people running them, and like me they get up every day, do their stuff and nobody sees the background of worry, occasional carnage, frustration and number crunching.
So why reader, would I spend nearly every waking moment, and many, many of my sleeping ones, thinking of a way to get my dream shop?
It’s not that I’m having difficulty in finding the shop. I’ve seen it. I’ve been in it. I fell in love with it in a heartbeat. I’ve already pictured every piece of my furniture and all my gorgeous items of children’s clothing (my business, the Clothes Tree, is an e-boutique selling second-hand designer children’s clothes) in the shop.
While the Scottish Premier League is alive with all the moving, shaking, switching, twitching, coming and going (or maybe not so much this year), I am busy pulling little golden nugget plans through my own virtual window, before hopefully capturing them and transferring them into a solid reality.
Everyone needs to know your business in business, but how do you make your business everyone’s business?
As a communications professional, I had my launch strategy all mapped out months ahead of The Clothes Tree going live. Raising awareness was my business, so I knew what I was doing right from the start. Right? Wrong.
Probably while on holiday when your mind wanders into an untapped magical creative space, and you return home, energised and full of optimism about your new idea and future, only to return to work and become swallowed up by life again. That, or you accept that your amazing idea was the entrepreneurial equivalent of Alan Partridge’s ‘Monkey Tennis’.
They say that the best ideas are the most simple ones. Like Facebook, Twitter, the simplicity of Google as a search engine.