"Build a team of like-minded individuals. Surround yourself with others who are driven by the same purpose that you are. This will create a workplace culture that fosters commitment to the purpose and will encourage innovation."
In today’s competitive business landscape, the race for profits often takes center stage. However, there are some leaders who also prioritize a mission-driven purpose. They use their business to make a positive social impact and recognize that success isn’t only about making money. In this interview series, we are talking with some of these distinct leaders and I had the pleasure of interviewing Lucy Hurst.
Lucy Hurst is Managing Director of Sherbet Donkey Media, a fast-growing, award-winning, digital marketing agency. Incepted just two and half years ago, it has grown from just a handful of passionate staff to now nearly forty employees who are all thirsty for knowledge and willing to go above and beyond for clients.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us your “Origin Story”? Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Sherbet Donkey Media was born from the frustration that both I and my business partner had experienced in dealing with other digital marketing agencies. We found that they would often over-promise and under-deliver. We knew there had to be a niche in the market for an agency that essentially flips this on its head, under promises and over-delivers.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
One of the most amazing things that’s occurred since Sherbet Donkey Media was established, is the exponential growth that we’ve seen. We’ve been really proactive in recruiting ahead of time but if someone had said to us when we first set up the company that we would have almost 40 staff in such a short amount of time and we’d still be recruiting, I don’t think we would have believed them!
We often learn the most from our mistakes. Can you share one that you made that turned out to be one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned?
I like to think when it comes to the “big mistakes”, we’ve learned from other peoples’ mistakes. Sometimes sitting back, watching, and observing is the best way to gain the most insight. Both I and my co-director have learned a lot from previous employers and what they’ve done wrong which has led to negative working environments which is not what we want for our employees.
As a successful leader, it’s clear that you uphold strong core values. I’m curious what are the most important principles you firmly stand by and refuse to compromise on. Can you share a few of them and explain why they hold such significance for you in your work and life?
As previously mentioned, over-delivering rather than over-promising. I believe that one’s word is their bond and so I’ll never promise something I can’t definitely deliver on.
I also think it’s really important to take an employee-centric approach. When employees are happy, they’ll go above and beyond to achieve results for clients so that’s a win all around.
With the above in mind, I think it’s best for employees to have a good work/ life balance. You don’t want employees who are working themselves into the ground.
Finally, but by no means least important, I think it’s important to consider the local and global community whenever and wherever you can. This could be in day-to-day duties, or it could be giving back in a more proactive way.
What inspired you to start a purpose-driven business rather than a traditional for-profit enterprise? Can you share a personal story or experience that led you to prioritize social impact in your business?
One main ethos for us, when we first set out and to this day, was that we would have happy employees and happy clients. This is something that we’ve achieved and will continue to work on as we’ll always encourage feedback from both groups of people and continue to grow.
Can you help articulate a few of the benefits of leading a purpose-driven business rather than a standard “plain vanilla” business?
Our ethos from the outset of Sherbet Donkey Media has been to ensure that employees and clients are kept happy. This has, in turn, naturally led to more motivation among staff, an improved brand reputation, and better financial positioning as we all continue to innovate and expand our expertise. It’s an approach that not only makes a positive impact on society but also contributes to long-term business success.
How has your company’s mission or purpose affected its overall success? Can you explain the methods or metrics you use to evaluate the impact of this purpose-driven strategy on your organization?
All of us are always looking to do better and improve our expertise in order to improve how we are positioned as a company. We are constantly revising and pushing our KPIs. Employees are encouraged to provide feedback and if nothing else at all, they’ll have been listened to. It’s much the same with customers, we encourage feedback. Then there are the more obvious things that most businesses will do which are still integral to the longevity of a purpose-driven business, things like reviewing financial performance.
Can you share a pivotal moment when you realized that leading your purpose-driven company was actually making a significant impact? Can you share a specific example or story that deeply resonated with you personally?
We started out as just a handful of passionate individuals. There were several points when we thought “We’re doing something right here”. One pivotal moment was the Christmas party of 2021 when there were 15 of us and everyone was having a great time and didn’t feel the need to stand on parade despite both directors being there as well. Another time was when we overcame a growing pain, as we have grown quickly, and got all 20 or so staff (at the time) working cohesively and collaboratively. That was a real “yes!” moment.
Have you ever faced a situation where your commitment to your purpose and creating a positive social impact clashed with the profitability of your business? Have you ever been challenged by anyone on your team or had to make a tough decision that had a significant impact on finances? If so, how did you address and reconcile this conflict?
There have been numerous occasions when this has happened. What your readers should keep in mind is that we always encourage feedback from both our employees and our clients. Some feedback we receive may simply not be feasible or may be at odds with other feedback we’ve received. When this happens, we have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs who wish to start a purpose-driven business? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know in Order To Create A Highly Successful Purpose-Driven Business.”
1 . First things first, define your purpose. Your purpose may not be the same as ours, but you have to know what yours is and have it outlined clearly.
2 . Make sure that your purpose is firmly embedded within your business. You need to integrate your purpose into every single aspect of your business model, whatever it is that you do. Make sure that it’s not just a tagline but a fundamental part of your modus operandi.
3 . Measure impact and be accountable. You need to establish clear metrics and methods to measure the impact of your purpose-driven initiatives. Be sure to regularly assess your progress and be transparent with your results.
4 . Build a team of like-minded individuals. Surround yourself with others who are driven by the same purpose that you are. This will create a workplace culture that fosters commitment to the purpose and will encourage innovation.
5 . Be prepared to adapt and evolve. Business landscapes are often dynamic, so you need to be prepared to adapt your strategies and initiatives to meet changing challenges and opportunities. Stay true to your purpose while remaining flexible in your approach.
I’m interested in how you instill a strong sense of connection with your team. How do you nurture a culture where everyone feels connected to your mission? Could you share an example or story that showcases how your purpose has positively influenced or motivated people on your team to contribute?
Our purpose is firmly engrained in everything that Sherbet Donkey Media does. As such, right from the very start of employment with us, all staff know exactly what our purpose is and how we operate. Our purpose seems to continuously motivate and have a positive influence on our employees. They all continuously learn, either individually, when working collaboratively, or a mixture of both, and constantly develop their expertise, which then shows in the results that we produce for our clients.
Imagine we’re sitting down together two years from now, looking back at your company’s last 24 months. What specific accomplishments would have to happen for you to be happy with your progress?
Haha, that almost seems like a trick question when it comes to Sherbet Donkey Media. If someone had said to us, back when we started, that we would have nearly forty employees in just two and a half years on, I would probably have laughed at them. We are looking at doubling our clientele, hiring ahead of time for this which in turn will mean doubling our staff and as such, we’ll need either a larger or secondary premises. That said, our goals can shift but so can our employees, they’re great in their dynamic approach. We know how to pivot on a dime, but we also know that when we work hard and work together we’re an unstoppable force.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
We’re an office full of animal lovers, dogs in particular. Anytime that anyone comes to the office there’s normally at least one dog, normally more, milling about. I know that when I’m in the office, I normally have my Vizsla who is excited about everything and keeps everyone on their toes. I think, as a collective, we’d want to do something for a dog or animal shelter, and we are actually looking to collaborate with a local animal sanctuary.
How can our readers further follow your work or your company online?
We’ve just upgraded our website so your readers should definitely check that out, alternatively, there’s our LinkedIn.
This was great. Thanks for taking time for us to learn more about you and your business. We wish you continued success!
Thanks very much, all the best!