Welcome to the fourth post in our #FemaleFounders series. We’re over the moon about having Sue Flannery, founder of Cyber Frog Design in our hot seat this week. We spoke to Sue about her female heroines, the challenges that she faced whilst staring her own business, and why she became a #FemaleFounder.
1. Why did you start your business? What spurred you on?
I wasn’t happy in a job I’d been in for a while. I’d been teaching for 13 years but had fallen out of love with what the government were doing to the profession, so I decided to change. I formed an exit plan with my husband, it’s pretty difficult to flounce out of a job when you have three kids and a mortgage, so it had to be planned.
I’d done quite a lot of marketing when I ran live music pubs and theatre bars in London, then I went on to be a national trainer for the brewery, and that involved opening new pubs, recruiting the staff, training them and then setting them up with a marketing plan to move forward with. I had to dust off my skills and read up on current trends etc. as the world had moved on! I knew I had the skills but just needed to work at bringing them into the digital age. I was fed up of being unhappy, and that wasn’t going to change unless I changed something.
I formed an exit plan with my husband, it’s pretty difficult to flounce out of a job when you have three kids and a mortgage.
2. What are the unique challenges you have faced as a female founder?
Being taken seriously as a woman in a tech business. I maybe didn’t face a lot of challenges that younger women face today because I’m a lot older and I have had a pretty varied career. As I’ve become older I care much less about what other people may think of me, I know my skill set and I know I can do it. I’ve become more confident. That’s one of the things I come across when mentoring or talking to other women, there can be a lot of imposter syndrome around. Women worry about being valid, about being enough in a very male-dominated environment. I don’t care as much anymore!
There can be a lot of imposter syndrome around. Women worry about being valid.
3. What were the steepest learning curves during your first year in business?
Taking on staff. That’s the scariest bit. You are suddenly responsible for somebody else’s’ wages and livelihood!
4. What is your favourite thing about founding your own company?
The stress is all of our own making. I don’t have to justify my every movement or decision to someone else. (I’m rubbish at working for other people!)
5. What is the best business advice you have been given by someone else?
To trust in yourself, doubt can really nibble away at you. To ignore the voice in head that causes those doubts (back to imposter syndrome here) and always make sure you have a healthy cash flow. Cash flow is king.
Ignore the voice in your head that causes doubts.
6. What business tools can’t you live without?
A fast fibre connection! As well as all the obvious ones; Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Php Storm, etc.
7. When you’ve got a tough business decision to make what would be your first steps to solving the problem?
Speak to the staff. We’re a team and many heads are better than one. If we can’t crack it, I’d ask friends of the business.
8. Who are your heroines and why? Give us two.
Kitty Wilkinson – she did something that was almost impossible given her time and her social status. She saved so many lives and was selfless in her desire to improve the lives of people living in the slums.
Oprah and Maya Angelou – I know it’s two! – they both represent women who overcame a very difficult start in life to go on to do something extraordinary. Both women, both black and both went on to create a lasting positive legacy. Maya can bring me to tears with her poetry and I feel like Oprah has made it in spite of everything and the attacks from the press over her weight etc. She’s a force for good.
I could have also easily included Bessie Braddock, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Cavendish, Ada Lovelace, the suffragettes, any of the female footballers who have broken through and shown that women can play, Judi Dench and Helen Mirren for showing that just because you get past 40 doesn’t mean you don’t have worth. All of the women who had the courage to campaign to repeal the abortion laws in Ireland. I could go on!
9. What piece of advice would you give yourself if you were starting your business now?
Find ways to manage the stress and panic. Do yoga, go for a walk, learn to meditate, create time in your life to reflect. It can get overwhelming pretty quickly.
10. What’s your go-to marketing tactic for your small business?
It’s blogging and social for us. And updating the website regularly (currently being done now).
Follow Cyber Frog Design on @cyberfrogdesign.
Follow our #FemaleFounders series
We’re thrilled about our line up of Female Founders for the next couple of months. Check out our Instagram and Twitter for updates! Did you miss our last post? Don’t worry, you can read our interview with Non Wood Design here.