Emma Ross – Co-Founder of Missive
Headquartered in London and with a global reach and mindset, its clients include O2, PagoNxt (a Santander company), Crown Agents Bank and Octopus Ventures.
1. Becoming a founder happened because…
…I’d been friends with my co-founder Nicola since university and we’d both worked in PR. Nicola for an agency and me in-house.
After nine years we were both experiencing a bit of a career tipping point and after having seen PR from both sides of the fence we felt we could offer something fresh and impactful to some exciting technology businesses. We also felt we were ready to give back to the PR industry and nurture new talent. So it was right time, right place.
2. The most character-forming experience for me as a founder is…
…riding the waves of life.
I was diagnosed with bone cancer in August 2019. I’m doing ok and am delighted to be back at work but I obviously had to take time out and whilst doing so the business had to carry on. I had to accept that what I was experiencing was part of the course of life, however unpleasant it was. And I was fortunate to have a business partner who was prepared to make many personal sacrifices to cover me. I owe her a debt of gratitude.
Across the team we’ve faced family bereavements as well as the birth of many babies, mine and Nicola’s included, so we’ve learnt a lot about handling the personal setbacks as well as the triumphs. It’s a part of life and therefore a part of business.
From a commercial perspective keeping up with the growth is definitely character-forming. Missive is like raising a child. As soon as we think we’ve cracked something, a new set of challenges appear!
3. The business success I’m most proud of is …
…being true to what we set out to do. Nicola and I wanted to improve the standard of PR and not do PR for PR’s sake but actually deliver business impact.
Equally important was to create an incredible place to work – where work feels like a part of life. Not just something you have to do to pay the bills.
As you get bigger you have to work harder to do the nice-to-haves so I’m proud that after six years we’ve been able to keep that up.
4. My top productivity tip in times of Covid is…
…to make your colleagues feel supported and rewarded for doing a tough job on their own. In a lockdown it’s all too easy to think that you are the only one struggling.
Most of our team are in their 20s and 30s and went into PR so they could work in a creative environment and in a fun office. We’re in a sector that needs to work closely as a team and we usually celebrate our collective effort by going abroad each year to somewhere beginning with “M”.
Last year we planned to go to ‘Massachusetts’ but staged a remote two-day event in the ‘Motherland’ instead. We had an amazing time with wine tastings, robot building, a virtual escape room, a talk from poet Hussain Manawer, birth chart readings – something for everyone!
There is no way that our team would have been so fabulous and motivated if they didn’t feel supported and rewarded after all they have gone through over the past year. This is intrinsically linked to productivity.
5. The best bit of business advice I can give fellow founders is…
…don’t think “I couldn’t run my own business”. If you have the idea, the appetite and the business model then there’s absolutely no reason why not.
The hardest thing is making the decision to do it. But it’s just like any other job. It’s step by step and you learn as you go.
It’s never been any harder than anything else I’ve done. The only thing that feels different is the weight of responsibility.
6. Finerva supported my business vision by…
…providing us with Zeina King, our dedicated account manager who we adore working with and hope she feels the same way!
As a small company of 19 people we haven’t invested in in-house finance so Finerva provides the financial back-office support. It’s much more personal than I would have imagined to the extent that it feels like an extension of our team.
On the business consulting side it’s been really symbiotic as both Missive and Finerva have been at similar growth points in our journeys. So not only have we had fantastic advice but we’ve been able to share experiences as well as client networks.
7. When not living life as a Founder I love to…
…spend time with my husband and two-year old son, so I’m often to be found playing Brio!
I’m also an amateur artist and have weekly art lessons. Painting and writing is the opportunity for me to switch off from juggling the fast-paced demands of technology clients and colleagues.