Becky and Simon Smallchua are determined to show the world that purpose and profit can go hand in hand in business.
Becky and Simon Smallchua are two passionate peas in a pod. They’re the proud puppy-parents of a toy poodle named Harvey, self-confessed positive change-makers, and a perfectly matched pair. They’re also the founders of Harvey, a marketing and consulting agency for conscious businesses, and yes - their business name was inspired by their happy little pooch.
Becky and Simon have built a business on the concept of helping other businesses ‘do good’, and they’re passionate about building to a better world. Collectively, they had nearly half a century of experience working in marketing and advertising roles before taking the leap to go out on their own – but it wasn’t an easy transition.
Putting people and the planet first isn’t always an easy decision when the very basis of being in business is turning a profit, but Becky and Simon are determined to show the world, that purpose and profit can go hand in hand…
What 9-to-5 jobs were you both working prior to launching Harvey?
Beck: Heading up the brand and digital team at Thankyou.
Simon: Leading Global Marketing at Lexer, a data tech start-up).
Was it a lightbulb moment to start your own business or years of ideas in the making?
Beck: It was a lightbulb moment! After four amazing years contribution to the growth at Thankyou I was ready for my next challenge but wasn’t sure what that would be. I had a look at the job market for senior marketing roles and nothing was taking my fancy (especially in the purpose space). I even considered (for all of one second) if I would ‘sell out’ and work for a big corporate for good pay and maternity leave for a season. But I was too passionate about the power (and urgency) for business to create positive change in the world. Coming out of my bubble from Thankyou I discovered how much this movement had grown and there are so many incredible businesses changing the game and doing good. I realised I could help them grow with my skills and experience from social enterprise and several years agency side on global brands. So I started with one probono project, that turned into another and my first paid job and now Harvey is going better than I could imagine.
Did you both quit your jobs at the same time and start working for yourself or how did the transition work?
Beck took the leap first in December and after gaining traction and proof of concept, Simon joined part-time in March and full-time in May.
What was your biggest challenge in the first year of running your own business?
Beck: At the start, it was having to do business development for the first time. The word ‘sales’ made me cringe and I was anxious about putting myself out there and backing myself. Then I quickly realised it was simply about being yourself, honest about what you know or don’t know and most importantly being genuinely curious and interested in people. I removed the ‘sales’ word and approached it like how I would connect with people normally - less focused about what they think about me and more about hearing their story. I also had no idea about pricing, finance, tax stuff - but luckily Simon and Luna helped there!
Simon: Juggling our time and figuring out the best way of working together as husband and wife and business partners. We want to play to our strengths but also both grow and learn, but not overwork ourselves. It’s also really challenging balancing work-life when each client is so inspiring, genuinely, we want to keep on working because the work they’re doing is so good. But it’s important to rest and eat gelati.
Harvey is an agency for conscious brands. Can you define what you do and who you do it for in one sentence?
We’re a Strategic Marketing Team to help businesses that improve the world grow using data, tech and marketing.
What’s on your daily to-do list running Harvey and who does what?
In terms of type of work, Beck tends to be more brand, comms and campaign focused. Whereas Simon is more data, tech and digital strategy. Our day varies from client WIPs, facilitating a design thinking workshop, writing strategies, creating or reviewing content, creating simple websites, managing ads on search and social, conducting user testing or customer research, meeting awesome new people. Oh and taking Harvey our Cavoodle for walks.
How has co-working helped with your personal and business growth?
It’s been so good being part of the One Roof community. It’s so much more than a physical office space - it’s been super encouraging being around like minded people doing freaking cool stuff that inspires us every day. We’ve also formed some awesome collaborations and new business here.
What one superpower would you have and why?
Beck: this is totally self-indulgent - but I’d love to have massages on demand at a click of a finger.
Simon: I remember dreaming I was flying with my teddy bear when I was in year 3, and I’d still love to be able to fly.
What would you go back and tell your 15-year-old self?
Beck: Chill out and go with the flow. Nothing is ever set in stone so don’t over plan everything. Try new things and be open to learning about anything and everything.
Simon: Get a haircut, stop wearing those beige corduroy jackets and pants, and do more programming and less drinking.
How do you measure your impact?
Our clients are allies of people and planet, positively impacting one or more of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). So our impact is through their success, if they grow they achieve greater impact. We focus our measurement on marketing/sales outcomes, like growing revenue, increasing reach, generating leads, or achieving crowdfunding goals. Our clients businesses vary dramatically in industry, impact and stage, from electric vehicles to biodigesters in Cambodia or B Corp certification to coworking space for female led business.
Did you make any mistakes in your first year of business that you learnt from?
Beck: Spilling water on my brand-new laptop (hand on face emoji). Also, being overly optimistic with time and what I can achieve - which seems to be a perpetual problem for me.
Simon: Well, many, every year, however, I don't really think of them as mistakes, as business is changing so much. In my first business at 19 years old, I probably spent too much money on less important things (like an office) and didn't charge enough. In the first year of Harvey, pursuing potential clients that weren't aligned to our vision and never went anywhere, a waste of time for everyone.
This blog was written by the incredible and talented Claire Goldsworthy, Founder of The Fashion Advocate.
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