Entrepreneurial journeys: Bethan Vincent
Bethan Vincent is an award-winning marketing leader with over ten years’ experience in the marketing sector.
She is the founder of marketing consultancy Open Velocity, hosts The Brave, a podcast about resilience, and is a regular speaker at marketing and technology conferences.
Open Velocity is a marketing consultancy providing strategy and marketing leadership support to high growth technology companies, at a fraction of the cost of hiring their own chief marketing officer (CMO).
Whilst studying for her degree in history at the University of York, Bethan Vincent joined the university’s enterprise programme. From this, she managed to get funding to set up her first business when she graduated in 2013 - a coffee e-commerce site. She has also had businesses in ethical certification and digital publishing. Open Velocity is Bethan’s fourth business.
"I have dipped in and out of employment and self-employment so have seen both sides. As well as having businesses, I have worked in all sorts of marketing positions, from marketing assistant to marketing manager at a cloud hosting company, then as marketing director at a bespoke software consultancy.
"I have spent the last six years in the tech industry. I enjoy and understand it so it made sense to specialise my new marketing agency in this sector.
"Niching down is important. You can’t be everything to everyone or you’ll be nothing to nobody. That’s a mistake I think many solopreneurs make."
"Being a fractional CMO is a fairly new concept in the UK and one that is growing steadily since the pandemic. As companies are more open to new working patterns and innovative ways to resource departments, Open Velocity is filling that gap in the market.”
"The biggest challenge for Open Velocity has been clearly defining our ideal customer. We have the ability to work with a range of businesses in a range of sectors, but that doesn't mean we should! It's taken a lot of research and strategic thought to define our niche and validate it.
"The other challenge I have faced is imposter syndrome. I talk to people and think ‘I’m only 31, who am I to tell people what to do at this age?’, but I’m getting results and I have great client retention. There’s a realisation that everyone is making it up as they go along, but that’s OK as long as you’re backing your work up with proven results.
"I've failed a lot on my journey, but that’s made me more aware of what not to do. I am happy to say that my latest venture is profitable and growing quickly!
"I never thought I would be in marketing. I worked for English Heritage before university and thought I’d go back to the heritage sector, working at a castle. I now consider myself a technologist in the tech sector. It’s a surprising turn of events I would never have predicted.
"Open Velocity has now been trading for a year and it’s gone better than I could have expected. We’ve smashed our financial targets. It’s been personally challenging and has been a lot of hard work, sacrificing Sundays and personal time, but I wouldn’t change a thing. We are currently setting up a new model of delivering CMO-as-a-service and I believe we could be a global business fairly rapidly. We have a five to seven year growth strategy in place which outlines our UK expansion first, then the US, followed by Europe. We are actively recruiting partners.
Words of advice
"I have learned to have a really tight handle on cash flow and finances. Teach yourself to read profit and loss, your balance sheet, understand what it all means and what HMRC requirements are. More widely, understand your own strengths and weaknesses. I’m really not good at finances so very early on I offloaded that and got an accountant for bookkeeping, VAT returns, all the things I don’t enjoy.
"It’s very important to find what you can’t do, to acknowledge it and to plug that knowledge gap so you can concentrate your expertise in the business.
"Finally, networking is like rocket fuel for a business. Finding and connecting with the right people can help you access advice and opportunities and increase your ‘luck surface area'. By that I mean increasing your chances to get lucky in life - or in this case, business.
"Throughout my career, the only reason I’ve got where I am today is by networking and having people out there who can advocate for me."
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