After turning around a wine bar from loss to profit in less than a year at the age of twenty five, Caroline knew she wanted to make a difference through her entrepreneurial skills. After being a partner in a comms firm, Caroline recognised that she wanted to do comms differently.
OggaDoon was born: an ethical guerrilla comms business, dedicated to working with brands with passion and purpose. Caroline has built the business internationally to a team of full time, part time, remote and flexi workers, all doing what they love.
Where did the idea for OggaDoon come from?
After turning around a wine bar from loss to profit in less than a year at the age of twenty five, I knew I wanted to make a difference through my entrepreneurial skills. After being a partner in an environmental comms firm, I recognised two things: that sustainability and technology was the future, and that I wanted to do comms differently.
OggaDoon was born: an ethical guerrilla comms business dedicated to working with brands with passion and purpose. I’ve built the business internationally to a team of full time, part time, remote and flexi workers, all doing what they love.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Is there any such thing as a typical day for a founder entrepreneur who is also a working parent? I’m in the office four days a week unless I’m seeing clients in London or around the UK, and I offer myself the same benefits and flexibility that my team have. I believe our working lives have to fit around the business needs and our own individual lives.
A day can involve facilitating a TV news shoot, crafting outstanding copy, chairing a brand strategy meeting, introducing investors to clients, and creating genuine engagement opportunities so more people can discover the clever sustainable things that are happening all around them. But also looking after the team, supporting them in their endeavours to gain skills and expertise. And so we have fun and humour in our day.
I’m never really far away from my mobile but that doesn’t mean that I’m not present with my family – it’s just critical for many of our clients that they can speak with me if something time dependent occurs. And as I love what they do, it’s not a problem.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The first question I always ask myself is: “Why should anyone else care?”
Yes, this idea is exciting to me, but what do I need to do to bring it to life for someone else? What do they need to see, hear, believe in, to take an action?
Unpacking the answers to those questions usually helps me to bring ideas to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The emergence that making money, pursuing a career, developing a business isn’t all about the finance, the turnover and the profit. These are crucial, but there is more to spending your working hours than just chasing the notes; it’s coming through the generation that entered the workplace about 5 years ago and is continuing.
Oh, and the fact that more business folk and their brands are waking up to the impact their activities have on the climate. At last.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Trusting my team. It’s hard to do initially but you have to let go if you want to succeed. That means I hire for personal qualities and characteristics, passion if you like, as well as skills and expertise. I can teach skills, but it’s much more challenging to teach determination, perseverance, and problem solving. With people that I can depend on around me, it’s much easier to let go and trust someone to deliver a task because I can then focus on what I need to do, as CEO.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Ohh, good question! I probably wouldn’t give advice, more reassurance.
“Caroline: you were right. Sustainability and clever technologies that empower sustainable changes are absolutely the future. You may have spotted this earlier than everyone else, and you may feel a little on your own right now, but you are going to see such changes in the world. Soon there will be more businesses than you can count trying to make a positive difference, and you’re going to be in the heart of it all. Also, just do it.”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
To do lists are pointless, a little like revision. They don’t make you a better professional: you may get the work done, but you won’t be as creative.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Get the basics right each time and let your impact and evidence do the talking.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Honesty. I’ve built OggaDoon as an ethical marketing agency, and that means when I meet with a prospective client and I don’t think they are ready to work with us, I say. Yes, I could be missing out on potential revenue but I would rather just be honest and not scam someone out of their money. It doesn’t sit well with me, and it doesn’t sit well with the team.
That approach has actually ended up being a core part of the reason why our clients trust us. They know that when we recommend something, we’re doing so because we believe it will genuinely change their business for the better.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It’s not a failure as such, but when I first started out on my entrepreneur journey, it became clear that being a woman and a mother too was expected to hold me back – and I do consider with hindsight sometimes whether I held myself back. Did I push myself enough? Did I go out there as hard as I would now? Was I as bold as I wanted to be?
But you don’t gain anything as an entrepreneur by beating yourself up over actions you have or haven’t taken. Instead, I look back to learn and remind myself how far I’ve come.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve had so many. For example, I wanted to manufacture black sports leggings that didn’t show through. Now, I’d like to develop some sort of AI driven/robotic housekeeper.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
On an axe-throwing session for the team; none of us are natural javelin throwers it seems, but the laughs were belly aching.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I can’t pick a singular one so I’m going for a collaborative suggestion: Slack + Trello + What’s App.
At OggaDoon, we use Slack as a communications and productivity tool, Trello as a project management tool, and Telegram/WhatsApp with clients, depending on their preference. Slack and Trello are the tools we all use every day, and it enables us to give real, tangible, and trackable value to our clients.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Female Edge – it’s a book written by thirteen female entrepreneurs, and yes I’m in it, on a variety of topics including the perceived weaknesses of women in the workplace. All proceeds are going to the Women’s Resource Centre to support their Tampon Tax campaign.
What is your favorite quote?
Life is not a dress rehearsal.
- The first question I always ask myself is: “Why should anyone else care?”
- More business folk and their brands are waking up to the impact their activities have on the climate. At last.
- You don’t gain anything as an entrepreneur by beating yourself up over actions you have or haven’t taken. Instead, I look back to learn and remind myself how far I’ve come.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.