Stephanie White talks to us about how a bad experience in the corporate world led to the creation of her business, By The Way Creative.
Tell us about your business?
My name is Stephanie White and I am a Hampshire-based businesswoman and founder of copywriting agency, By The Way Creative.
After I graduated with my degree in English Literature, I went into my one and only corporate role, leading the marketing team in a small, but high-pressure company. I found it to be a strict, stifling, and sexist environment, and the atmosphere and long workdays soon took their toll. When I calculated that my hourly rate (due to all the unpaid overtime and long hours) was less than when I had worked as a waitress (a job I actually loved), I decided to resign from my corporate job, and returned to waitressing in order to pay the bills.
My husband (then boyfriend) owned his own business, which meant I was very envious of his freedom and flexibility and wanted to follow suit as an entrepreneur. I’ve always loved writing, so doing it for a living felt like a natural fit. It was in April 2017 on my kitchen table that I established my copywriting agency By The Way Creative.
The name actually came from a blog I had in 2015 – I used to sign it off with “By the way it’s Stephanie,” as I wanted people to stop calling me by my nickname, so when the time came to name the business, it was ready and waiting.
My main purpose now is to help give female entrepreneurs a voice, empowering them to have the confidence to use their words to go after what they want, helping to create a generation of assertive women.
How do you spread the word about your business?
It’s been a combination of networking, a strong support system, social media, and investing in PR. We’re lucky in this day and age that we have the power of Instagram and Facebook for example, enabling us to reach so many more people, especially during a time when we were locked down! The key, I find, is to stay true to yourself – don’t push yourself so far out of your comfort zone that it becomes unbearable, but strive every day to be a better version of you – whatever that looks like to you.
How has business been during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Since March 2020, my entire life has changed. When the pandemic hit, I’d just spent my last drop of savings on a VIP day with a coach. Then literally two weeks later the world closed down and I went into panic mode. Of course, none of us had any idea how we would cope or what would happen. I even had a look at full-time jobs online as I was convinced this could really be the end for me and my business.
After a month or so, I realised that perhaps all was not lost. I’d been planning on launching my first group programme, Wake Up + Smell The Copy, but had parked it out of fear. In the summer of 2020, I decided to just go for it and we launched – And then I launched again, and again! By the end of the year, I’d launched my own programme three times and I’d launched a joint passive product.
In short, I quadrupled my turnover during the pandemic. Because I was able to scale the business to six-figures in a year, my husband was able to take a step back and focus on his own goals. He’s taken time off to train in areas he’s interested in and fully invest in getting the coaching and support he needs to go after his dreams – safe in the knowledge that the bills are paid and I can support us. I think this is an incredible learning curve for us as a couple.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s been really hard at points, but overall, it’s going to make us so much stronger and shows each other just how much we’re willing to do for each other and for our greater purpose together.
What’s the hardest thing about running a business?
Balance! The pandemic has allowed us to invest a lot of time in the business aspect of our lives, but it’s made it easy to neglect actual life!
I think the ongoing challenge for myself and other business owners will be reclaiming our social lives and the existence we once had outside our businesses.
Have you received any financial support for your business?
I am self-funded. I took the last of my savings and invested in a VIP coaching day – this was a massive four-figure leap, so not an insignificant decision, and it changed my business. It was that day that I came up with the idea for my copywriting programme, Wake Up + Smell the Copy, which has since evolved into a self-study course and sold in the five figures. Since then, I have frequently reinvested into By The Way Creative, most recently into the conversion to a limited company, and have expanded the team to six incredible women and numerous external suppliers as we’ve scaled to the six-figure turnover mark and beyond!
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
I think my biggest obstacles were the ones in my mind. I know now that you can achieve anything you put your mind and heart to but back then, especially as a young woman whose confidence had taken a battering both professionally and personally, it was easier said than done.
The first step was quitting my corporate job. It brought me no joy and was affecting my mental health massively. Slowly, with the support of my now-husband, friends, and peers, I overcame these self-imposed obstacles and thrived.
What’s the best decision you’ve made so far?
Other than starting the business? Using it for good.
I really do feel passionate about trying to right the wrongs in our world. The main thing for me I suppose is that there are just too many beings in the world – people and animals. So, I want to ease the burden on the planet. I am super passionate about the environment and education, as I believe that overpopulation and education levels go hand in hand.
The main way I am trying to do my part is a mission called ‘30 under 30’, where I intend for my business By The Way Creative to sponsor thirty girls from underdeveloped countries to stay in school. We currently sponsor one girl, in Guatemala, and I am 27 – so fully intend to reach my goal. By keeping girls in school, they have more choices available to them than just marrying and having children, which in turn reduces overpopulation and the subsequent burden on the world’s food production.
My business is totally carbon offset, and I have adopted several foreign rescue animals as they are the ones no-one else wants. While there are animals in rescue there is no need for breeding. I am vegetarian and intend to only have one child – if any.
Not getting coaching sooner! When I first started out, I had no idea the coaching world even existed! I found courses and a few memberships, but had I found coaching earlier I think I’d have scaled even faster.
If I could go back, I would start cultivating those inspiring relationships much earlier in my business career.
What is one thing that would make running your business a lot easier?
Unlimited energy! Running a business is so exciting and we want to do everything at once. Having more energy and not being limited by burnout prevention would be magical (but unfeasible!)
What’s next for your business?
The world is my oyster! My business has achieved more than I ever thought possible – we’re heading head-first into multi-six-figures – so what’s stopping me from achieving even more? I plan to meet more people, more clients and more mentors. There’s really no limit and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for By The Way Creative.
Made in Britain: Copywriting agency, By The Way Creative