Inspirational Woman: Heather Murray | Director, Beesting Digital

Heather Murray

Heather Murray is Director at Beesting Digital, a content strategy agency based in Birmingham. 

Heather combined her background in both corporate and charity to create a purpose-driven agency, whose profits fund critical work with older people in the community.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background, and your current role

I’m Director at Beesting Digital, a content strategy agency based in Birmingham, though my team are all over the UK. We work with multinational and global legal, financial, SaaS and manufacturing businesses to devise clever content strategy to attract, engage, convert and retain a steady stream of business.   In the last year, we’ve started partnering with some fantastic big brands, including Unilever, Starling Bank, Nokia and HSBC.

My background started off as fairly corporate, working for 13 years at some of the biggest law firms in the UK, but following that, I spent 5 years helping to run a community centre.  That changed my outlook on work completely. I loved the power and prestige of corporate, but I found my heart and soul in charity – so I decided to combine the two. Beesting sets aside 15% of everything we make to run our own charitable activities for isolated older people. Knowing that the bigger we get, the more charity work we can do is a much bigger and more sustainable driver than money. It’s also a great way to attract larger brands, as they’re looking for genuinely ethical suppliers.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not before I started the business, no. I dreamed for a while of running my own business, but I just didn’t think it was possible. I thought you had to have hundreds of thousands of pounds saved to even get off the ground, but I was very wrong! However, Covid came around, and I got made redundant at the same time and fate struck. Since I started, there has been a lot of planning ahead, including my own career.  Where do I want to be in 5 years’ time? Where do I want the business to be? You always have to be thinking several steps ahead, though I’ve found complex plans are often a waste of time.  Just a broad one works well and adapts better to change.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Oh, plenty.  I’d say the biggest challenge was finding the right people. I worked with a lot of the wrong type of people before I found the powerful team I have now, and I couldn’t adore them any more than I do.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Recently, I spoke about what it feels like to be a business owner with an anxiety disorder at Nokia. That was pretty major for me on so many levels: having the courage to speak about my mental health in front of an audience from such a huge brand was terrifying.  But I got some excellent feedback, and it felt like a real achievement.  But truthfully, every week brings with it tremendous achievements, running a business is like a puzzle that is never solved, you just keep on unlocking new levels of difficulty.  Mixed metaphors there.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

My natural energy levels (which are derived via my anxiety disorder, usefully!).  I see them as a bit of a superpower.  I don’t tire easily, and I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the work I do, and a lot of fighting spirit to conquer the challenges every business owner faces on a weekly basis.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I wouldn’t be where I was now without my incredible mentors.  Through Virgin Startup, I met Lee Lam, who has been absolutely pivotal to my success.   It can be a seriously lonely life as a business owner – friends and family become more and more departed from your crazy reality, and it be really difficult to find common ground at times.  A great mentor like Lee not only gives incredible insight and advice to help with business decisions, she also provides that listening ear and genuine empathy.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Let’s start by funding more businesses led by females.  We get 96% less funding than our male counterparts.  It’s absolutely shocking.  I honestly don’t understand why.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Don’t put so much stock in what other people think of you.  A lot of people have very strong opinions, and just because they shout them loudly, it doesn’t mean they’re right.  Most often, those loud opinions are very wrong, and those people are unhappy. Trust your gut, trust your instinct and trust your own ideas.  They’ll get you far in later life.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is launching our brand new e-learning academy, the Beesting Academy.  We’re running courses for newbie copywriters and also producing lots of courses around LinkedIn and content strategy for our specialist industries: legal, manufacturing, finance and SaaS.  It’s soon to launch, and we’re very excited!

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