Before starting her own business, Amanda Williams made headlines as “a rising star” of the federal government’s media team. In 2017, Amanda left a six-year career in political communication behind to build a PR + external affairs agency from scratch with just three-months savings.
Yellowpanda is a boutique consultancy that specialises in building authentic public profiles for trailblazing entrepreneurs and CEOs across the country, making sure their real world achievements match their online footprints. The company’s mission is to grow their clients’ profiles and create a wave of inspiring authorities that will encourage the next generation of business leaders.
With access to the media and government representatives, as well as a deep understanding of data, insights and key optimisation techniques, Yellowpanda is the only boutique agency that offers traditional PR, corporate affairs and digital maintenance services.
We spoke to Amanda about finding your full potential and the importance of building good relationships, especially when global pandemics arise.
How did you come to start your business? Was there a particular spark or a significant turning point?
For me, small businesses are the heart of our economy and being able to create a wave of inspiring entrepreneurs is something that I’m really passionate about. As a driven, creative and self-motivated person, entrepreneurship has always been well suited to me.
I didn’t want to look back and regret not having a go at creating my own path and I was ready for a break from politics. It was an incredible opportunity at the time, but I was at a stage where I was limited to unleash my full potential.
When you initially started your business, what hurdles did you face?
In the beginning, I was a great ‘technician’ but I had no idea or experience as a business owner or manager.
If I had a mentor at the time, or someone who had successfully started a communications consultancy from scratch show me the way, I would have probably got to where I am today a lot sooner. However, in reflection, I wouldn’t change a thing. Because everything I have achieved and every part of my business has been handmade from scratch through trial and error and ensuring we keep delivering a service to our clients that meets their individual needs, and not a cookie cutter approach on repeat.
The other challenge we’ve had is that our leadership marketing and personal branding services aren’t widely known. So convincing people of the benefits of the service, and showing that it wasn’t something that’s self-serving, but rather something that will benefit the business, was something I had to be able to persuade my clients into – but they’ve since become raving fans!
Who or what was integral to you overcoming these hurdles?
About a year into my business, I signed a client who was willing to trust me enough to essentially trial my personal branding and leadership marketing strategies as part of a blended PR and personal branding experiment. Years later, that same client is still with me today, and the results we have achieved for him have encouraged other business leaders to become part of our tribe too! I will be forever grateful for this business relationship that kicked things off in the direction I truly felt passionate about operating in.
What makes your business unique?
The level of service and support we offer our clients certainly sets us apart. We work exclusively with clients from each industry so that there is no competition in house. Some agencies specialise in an area where they sometimes have to pitch clients against one another if an opportunity comes up, whereas we build up one inspirational identity per industry with a long-term strategy to see that person become the go-to authority in their space.
We also see ourselves as partners, not just service providers. We become an integral part of our clients’ business, and we often work collaboratively with their marketing and sales teams, to ensure our objectives align well.
On a personal level, I think my energy, and genuine desire to see my clients succeed makes us a great advocate for them. I always put their needs above my own, and that of the company. Being smaller in size also allows us to offer a very bespoke and personalised service.
What is a piece of advice you wish you had been told before starting your entrepreneurial journey?
Know that your circle of friends may change as your priorities do. You’ll find that you’re naturally more drawn to others in business, as they can understand your life and world more. You’ll have to make more of an effort to keep in touch with your friends and family because you really will find yourself sucked into the entrepreneur bubble if you don’t.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
In 2031, after picking up more clients across the country, I’d love to see Yellowpanda operating in international markets. To have developed an intentional presence, where companies know us and want to work with us would be incredible. Having clients overseas would also be a nice excuse to travel more – which I look forward to doing as soon as we’re able to again.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, you generally connect most with people who share similar journeys, lifestyles and ambitions as yourself, so I’ve been able to meet some incredible and inspiring people along the way. I’ve been able to forge some great connections throughout my business journey, a lot of that is with my clients actually, and I’m excited by the chance to forge more great connections as Yellowpanda continues to grow.
Another thing I love about entrepreneurship is that your future is in your hands. You’re responsible for your own success and this really pushes you to work hard, knowing that you have yourself and staff to support.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
The top skills and traits I see as essential in entrepreneurship is passion, resilience and discipline.
What has been the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
I am actually proud of making mistakes, the more you make, the more pain you feel which is a very strong motivator to grow.
The biggest challenge I have is around boundaries and scope creep. I am such a giver at times, I love serving people and adding value and going above and beyond which can impact the bottom line in a bad way!
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
During Covid, when the initial lockdown first hit, there was inevitably a lot of uncertainty and trepidation among the business community. Without knowing how their businesses would be impacted, I knew that in the back of their minds, they’d be contemplating whether marketing and PR should be on the chopping block to save money.
That’s why I got on the front foot and immediately reached out to my clients to show them how I would be helping them during this time. We expanded our services during this time, taking on more for them, which proved to be really advantageous.
We soon found the necessity of PR and branding during times of crisis, and the importance of maintaining visibility with your audience. We were able to really show the benefits of what we do, and show our support for our clients which is something, I hope, will always make them want to stick around.
How do you personally measure success?
I feel successful when I feel joy in my heart. I could be poor or absolutely balling it in life but if I didn’t feel that little light inside me, tickling my heart, telling me it felt excited and passionate about the day – then there is something wrong.
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
I’m all about learning new skills and staying across the latest news and trends in my industry. This is something that allows you to stay ahead of the game and give you a competitive edge over your competitors.
In a service-based industry I think that being equipped with as many skills as you can, which you can use to the benefit of your clients, is something that will make you an invaluable, and necessary part of their business.
While I know I can only truly be a master at one thing, I like to know how all the other pieces of the puzzle come together so I am always learning about complementary things in business that can help myself and my clients be successful.
How do you generate new ideas?
I often look at what other businesses are doing overseas, as often they’re the first to pick up new trends, so taking inspiration from that is a great way to help you stand out. I also find my mind wandering off with ideas when I listen to podcasts or read books. It just opens my mind up, I always need to have a pen to write my thoughts down – so I am not one of those people who can listen to podcasts in the car or while running. I need to be able to take down my thoughts as they come.
Who are the people around you that allow you to thrive and give support?
I draw a lot of motivation and inspiration from my clients. I remember being asked, who do you want to work in, it’s your business, you can literally work with anyone. That made me think that I wanted to work with people who share the same passion, work ethic and values as me because in the end, these are going to be the people I spent the most time with.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Depends on the idea, depends on how bad I want it. I’m not a quitter but I am also aware that sometimes things are not meant to be. I guess I tune into my gut for these decisions or look for messages from the universe.
What keeps you going in difficult times?
Living my life so publicly, and sharing my goals with others is one thing that helps to keep me accountable – and also knowing I have clients and team members who rely on me each day to build them up and help them grow.
Responsibility and being committed to the service of others always tends to get me through!
How do you handle doubt?
By telling myself that 99% of the things I worry about never happen. I literally imagine myself using the men in black laser beam sometimes to snap myself out of these moments of doubt.
Do you have a business app you can’t live without?
Instagram is a business app right? HAHA in all seriousness, I would have to say it’s the HubDoc app for keeping track of all my expenses/receipts.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most:
There’s an entrepreneur in the US – Jessica Zweig – who I connected with over Instagram a few years ago and I ended up meeting her on a retreat in Bali in 2018. She runs a personal branding agency called Simply Be. Like Yellowpanda, the company helps to build the public profiles for thought leaders across a range of industries with a focus on authenticity.
At the heart of Jessica’s work is the idea that in order to build your brand you need to be vulnerable and authentic which are principles I’ve employed in my own growth and my work with clients.