After more than 10 years working for some of the biggest digital agencies in London, Saija decided that it was time to launch her own business focussing on what she loves most, digital and more specifically search ad social marketing. Since then the business has grown significantly in the UK with dozens of clients now relying on its digital services, from small businesses to large multinational companies. And thanks to Saija’s Finnish roots, Mahon Digital has now also expanded geographically with Mahon Digital offices now residing in Finland as well.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and what you do currently
I’m a 33-year old business woman and a mum, living in London, originally from Finland Scandinavia. I am the founder of Mahon Digital Marketing, a digital media agency located in the UK and Scandinavia.
I came to London when I was 20-yeard old and I had just graduated with a marketing and advertising degree in Finland, my home city Turku. As there weren’t too many jobs going on in Finland, I decided to go and explore the world a bit. I ended up in London with my little suitcase, not too much money to my name, and I didn’t know anyone or didn’t have a place to stay either – it was a very spontaneous thing to do!
After my first night at a Finnish church in south London, who kindly accommodated me, I began my journey into the world of the most international city the world has seen! Suddenly I found myself a job, I had gathered friends around me, found a place to live and my ‘move’ to London had happened.
13 years later, I’m very happy that I ended up here and that I built the life around me that I did. Life outside my home country has made me appreciate the various cultures in the world, has made me more independent and ambitious and made me realise that:
the world really is your oyster – you can achieve whatever you want to achieve, but only if you are ready to take on an adventure!
Currently I run 2 successful online marketing agencies, offices located in the UK and in Scandinavia. I started my business (Mahon Digital Marketing) as a freelancer, just me and my laptop in my living room back then, and now, 4 years later, we have two offices and a team of 8 driving the business forward.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I have never really thought about challenges as negatives, so it’s hard to say what the biggest challenge has been.
I’ve always seen a challenge as something to be learned from, something to gain new skills from, and therefore, as a benefit for my own career and skills development.
Of course there are ups and down’s, pro’s and con’s to running a business, however as it’s my own business, my ‘baby’, I take the challenges as they come and tackle them accordingly. I guess if I needed to pick a challenge that I have to deal with on regular basis, it would be on the financial side of things. Chasing invoices. It’s a common issue for all business owners I’m sure, and we should all be more prompt at paying our invoices – the pressure on everyone would be less heavy.
What’s been your greatest achievement personally?
My greatest achievement personally has been my daughter and being able to start a business whilst catering for her and my family’s needs. I am proud that I can be a positive role model for her, show her that:
women can work and have a family at the same time, and be successful in running both simultaneously.
I want her to grow up confident, independent and self-assured that if she ever wanted to own a business, she can, and she can be great at it.
I am from a family of entrepreneurs myself and have grown up watching my father build his business up. I’ve seen the various sides a business owner can face (good and not so good), and I want to ensure my daughter sees them too, and realises it’s not such a huge risk (that I often hear) to throw yourself in a world of business and make your own dreams come true. Challenges can always be conquered.
If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?
I can’t imagine I would be doing anything else, as my business is my passion! I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years and still have the same or even higher drive for it.
I did go on holiday in the Caribbean once though, and whilst enjoying my time on the beach, I did get headhunted to work for the banana-boat company! So I guess that could be my plan B! I think I would be good at it!
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My father and my daughter. My father is an entrepreneur, a very successful one and I’ve watched him build his business up from scratch, like I have done. He’s always been there to mentor me, advise me and support me.
My daughter is my inspiration as I want to be a great role model for her. I want her to be proud of me. That drives me each day to work harder, be more successful and ensure Mahon Digital will always be something she can be proud of too – especially as it has our family name on it!
Failure or disappointment is not an option, or something I never even spare a thought to.
What does the future hold for you?
Business wise, I hope to grow Mahon Digital into global measures, open up offices in other countries and grow the wonderful teams of people we have surrounding my company. I want Mahon Digital to be internationally recognised brand now, and in the future.
Personally, I hope to be able to have a hobby one day (too busy with the business and family right now!) as I used to have a great passion for ballroom dancing! Perhaps I can take that up one day again. I hope to be able to travel a lot (whether work related or pure holidays) and tick more destinations of my ‘list’ that I haven’t visited yet.