March 1, 2021, marks 7 years from when Green Acre Marketing first commenced business and started the journey to become a leading marketing agency for the agribusiness sector. To celebrate the occasion, we put seven questions to Managing Director & Founder, Aileen Barron.
1. Looking back over the past 7 years what have been the key or defining moments for Green Acre Marketing?
It is hard to believe it has been 7 years since Green Acre Marketing was born! I first registered the business in November 2013 and as I was on maternity leave, I spent this time getting established and preparing to launch the business.
I am not sure if this is a defining moment, but a big milestone along the way was reaching a point when I could no longer do it all by myself and I hired my first staff member. It is probably one of the most daunting steps when you start a business, as now you are responsible for someone else, but like anything once you have done it once the rest follow much easier. Another was moving from a home office to our own corporate space, as this allowed me to not only expand the team, but it gave me much needed headspace, allowing me to separate home and work life.
Receiving investment in 2019 was a significant milestone, as this gave us the opportunity to diversify into other areas such as video production, as well as investing further in our people and growing our market share.
2020 could be determined as one of our more defining moments, although extremely challenging for everyone with the impact of Covid-19. For us, it will be remembered as a momentous year, where there was a significant strategic shift for many of our customers who had to adjust and adapt how they led their teams, spoke to their customers, and managed their brands, through remote working and digitalisation. Thankfully, we were in a strong position to support our customers with their digital communications – digital marketing is an area of the business, where for some time we have put our energy into upskilling, and 2020 gave us the opportunity to adopt these skills to assist our customers.
2. What do you regard as GAM’s best asset?
I am certainly blessed with the industry I work in. The people you get to work with and meet along the way, are some of the most inspiring and innovative. So, in lots of ways our customers are one of our best assets. However, to single out one, our best asset is without a doubt our people. Working with dedicated, hard-working, trustworthy people inspires you to keep pushing forward and to have a business that they too can be proud of. Nothing makes me prouder than seeing the fruits of our labour reflected in the success of our clients.
3. What has been the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge probably goes back a few years at this stage. Setting up and running your own business can be a very lonely place and when you don’t have anyone else in the business with you, you lack a sounding board. Friends and family will always be on your side but what you need is someone who inertly understands your challenge and can give you an informed perspective. Again, building the right team around you mitigates this challenge. Ironically, allowing yourself to delegate and step away from the everyday is another challenge. While I am naturally a trusting person, it can be hard handing over responsibility.
4. What lessons have you learned?
I have learned a lot about myself personally, from setting up the business and managing it as it grows. At times it has been a case of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and juggling many balls can be testing at times. Surrounding yourself with the best people is a huge motivator. People who wear your brand like you do are key to the success of any business.
5. Is there any other area in the business you would like to pursue?
We have a very strong growth plan in place, and we keep a close eye on upcoming trends and how they impact the future of marketing. Digital will become even more central along with video marketing and easy to consume content, such as live streams and podcasts. The intention is to keep learning and developing the skills within the business to create new opportunities for our clients.
6. What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a new business?
There is a saying I always revert to; find your niche and nail it! Carve out your business idea, go with your gut and be prepared to work extremely hard to be successful. Starting your own business can be relentless and stressful but equally rewarding and fun! It won’t happen overnight but by stepping out of your comfort zone, deciding what’s important, staying focussed and most importantly taking advice from those who have already made mistakes and achieved their own successes, despite setbacks, will set you on the right path.
7. And finally, what opportunities do you see for women in agriculture?
Irish women are playing an increasingly diverse role in agriculture both inside and outside the farm gate. What’s clearly evident is you don’t have to be from a farming background to become involved in agriculture. It’s a modern and progressive sector with an enormous range of career opportunities for women, from farm managers, plant scientists, animal nutritionists, agronomists, Agri journalists to high-tech innovators.
For me, I am extremely passionate about knowing and understanding where my food comes from and this is something, I will instil in my 4 daughters. Carving out a career in agriculture has been really rewarding and is a way of life for me and my family.