Inspirational Woman: Kirsty Hulse | Founder & Managing Director, Manyminds

Kirsty Hulse

Kirsty Hulse (29) is the Founder and MD of Manyminds.

After working for several agencies (some small, some part of large networks), Kirsty couldn’t help but notice that they all had the same problems.

They were all a bit too rigid in their structures and as a result, often they charged too much because of the amount of staff assigned to projects, who weren’t actually working on them.

Kirsty knew a lot of people in the industry who included a lot of incredibly talented consultants and freelancers. Her idea was to usurp all the areas that traditional agency models typically suffer with and create an agency that was just senior resource, all of whom worked remotely from wherever they liked, on projects they enjoyed, managing their own time.

There’d be no structured agency model that meant clients would pay for staff they wouldn’t need and people would get to collaborate freely according to their skillset and project requirements and so, in 2015 Manyminds was born.

Since then Kirsty has spent a lot of time speaking at conferences about SEO, PR, Business and more recently, inspirational and leadership talks. Kirsty’s key areas of expertise are developing client strategy and generating new business.

The Manyminds team is comprised solely of senior, experienced independent digital professionals, collaborating on projects according to client needs. With central hubs in London and San Francisco, the agency has access to an unlimited range of the best, specialised resource from across the world.

The business model has the process, scale and efficiency of a traditional agency; but with a lean, agile approach that enables better work, at a lower cost, from happier people.

Client teams are created according to bespoke project objectives and there’s no established hierarchy to adhere. There’s no distribution of resource according to structure or preferred billing models either. Further to this, new, different resource can be sourced as the project develops, preventing stagnation and ensuring creativity meaning that clients will never pay for a resource that is not having a direct impact on campaign performance.

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

I am currently the Founder and Managing Director of Manyminds, a digital agency made up entirely of freelance resource. I have also recently co-founded creative marketing agency Outrageous Creative and am an author, coach and speaker.

My background has always been in digital marketing. For about ten years I worked for both small SEO agencies and huge global advertising agencies. Three years ago I set up Manyminds as I found agencies really struggled to find and retain staff, and though a freelance network would be the best way to resolve that problem and have been running businesses ever since!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No. I am not the planning sort, though it’s a behaviour I am trying to learn and train myself to do a little more. I have always led with my intuition and made decisions on the fly. I think this worked very well for the first few years, though as my businesses scale and I find myself getting busier and busier and busier I have not left myself much headspace for intuition!

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Without a doubt! How can you learn if you’re never making mistakes? That’s what I like to tell myself anyway! I think the biggest challenge for me was always the very steep learning curve of business finance. I am not especially financially minded so navigating tax implications and VAT responsibilities was a huge challenge for me in the early days.

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

I spend 5 hours a week dedicating to mentoring. Since I wrote my book, I had more and more people reach out to me asking for me to mentor them so structured some time to be able to do that. I find it very rewarding. My imposter syndrome occasionally kicks in and I find myself thinking “who are you to be doing this?!” though I think most of us suffer from that internal narrative!

What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?

A few things. Firstly, increased diversity in the workplace to the point of reaching gender and ethnic parity. But more than that, I really want us to start getting to a position where gender isn’t even interesting. I often get asked about being a “woman in business”. I think we will begin to reach true equality when this stops being a question, when the fact that we are women is no longer surprising, something to be commented on or even noticeable. We have equality when we stop getting asked about being women in business, and the question becomes simply about business.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

One is quite difficult! I think institutionalised flexible working would have the biggest positive impact on equality. Encouraging flexible working allows us to reach all our career goals without having to sacrifice other elements of our life. Encouraging flexible working creates a fundamental shift in mindset where managers are exclusively focused on the output and quality of the work rather than simply “showing up”. With this, we would see women reach more board roles.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I think publishing a book is perhaps my biggest professional achievement. I had always had an ambition to be a writer when I was young, though was never convinced I’d achieve it, so it felt incredibly rewarding to begin, and finish something so time intensive!

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

I increasingly want to focus on areas that I enjoy, and am good at. I think we broadly accept work as, well work, and something that we don’t completely enjoy. Though, we spend the better part of our lives working so I think the most important thing anyone can do is work out what the things are that bring real joy, and focus on those. For me, that’s starting businesses, rather than managing them day to day. That was a steep learning curve as when you start a business, you become very protective of it, so stepping back and allowing someone else to take the rains can be daunting. Though I know, that for me, that is the way in which I will truly enjoy what I am doing every day, and that is the most important thing to achieve, I believe.

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