Cheryl LaidlawI own and run a creative design agency Website in a Day in London.

I’m passionate about design and the importance that brand awareness can have, whether you are building a personal brand, small business or a global company. I’ve seen first hand the impact that a consistent brand message can have.

As a Web and a Graphic designer I also become increasingly aware of how social media plays such a critical part in establishing a brand’s presence. In a unique move I extended my services to include Social Media. Offering not just social media set up but also training and consultancy.

My alter-ego, London Web Girl, was officially launched in 2017. Originally something I created in my spare time it has, like Website in a Day, grown into its own brand. The idea originally focused on me, a woman in tech, and all the issues and insight that goes with tech and web, but gradually grew to me talking about lifestyle topics and I am so pleased to say that my current Instagram following is more than 27k. Through London Web Girl, I have been invited to work with amazing brands and individuals and establish myself as a leading light in the tech and web world with a huge passion for helping women in the industry.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I took the leap to start my own business at the age of 26 and formed creative design agency, Reyl Design Group. Myself and my collaborators offer first class website design, logo creation, brand vision and branding strategy, social media marketing and email marketing work, among many other digital and creative services.

As part of our offer, we had the Website In a Day concept and it was so successful that it subsequently spawned an individual brand and business.

Website In a Day has grown and developed thanks to great networking, social media and word of mouth – all of which have been invaluable. The simplicity of the offer: one day, one price, one website, appeals to a lot of clients and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some fantastic clients to bring their brand to life digitally.

I feel my value lies in the fact that I make web design human and really listen to my clients’ objectives and vision and design sites with those elements at the centre in order to create a site that they envisaged and more. I am hugely passionate about making technology accessible and enjoyable. Digital can be a scary word for a lot of people and my main aim is to make it less so, by offering an organised and insightful experience with great before and after care to enable my clients to really enjoy and benefit from their digital experience.

My alter-ego, London Web Girl, was officially launched in 2017. Originally something I created in my spare time it has, like Website In A Day, grown into its own brand and I am really proud to say that I currently have more than 27k followers on Instagram.

The idea originally focused on me, a woman in tech, and all the issues and insight that goes with tech and web, but gradually grew to me talking about lifestyle topics.

Through London Web Girl, I have been invited to work with amazing brands and individuals and was recently invited to an exclusive reception at 10 Downing St on International Women’s Day. I have established myself as a leading light in the tech and web world with a huge passion for helping women in the industry. I am currently gearing up to host my course on growing your business through Instagram stories on the Thursday 9th May.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t sit down and plan it as such, but I always knew that I wanted to be a leading light in the tech world in some way.

Due to the growth of both London Web Girl and Website In a Day, I have been offered amazing opportunities and been lucky enough to be rewarded for my work (I recently received the Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday award, was named one of the top #ialso 100 in the recent f:Entrepreneur campaign, I was awarded highly commended in the recent Women Of The Future Awards and am a finalist in The Small Awards in the Digital Star category.

I plan my career and business by setting small, achievable weekly goals (as well as having the huge scary ones on the horizon!) and that has really helped me. Things such as connecting with people on Linked In, writing a blog, setting up a course, meeting someone in the industry for a coffee – it all counts to achieving the big goal.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Loads! When I started (and to some extent still now) a huge challenge is getting paid on time and managing these expectations to try and pre-empt it. It always astounds me how fellow business owners take such a long time paying you when they know themselves how it is.

Other challenges have included getting my work/life balance in order as when I first started, I was working 24/7 which isn’t conducive for anyone. I have now learnt to take a break when needed and know when to say no. Also learning your value is a huge learning – that can be in terms of prices, time and energy. It has taken me years to be able to produce things quickly, accurately and of a premium quality – and I often need to remember that that is what clients are paying for, not the time it has taken me to do something.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

There have been a few. Seeing the growth of London Web Girl has been hugely rewarding and not in my wildest dreams did I think that I would get more than 27k followers! This drives me to produce great content and engage with this audience more and more.

Alongside this, it was a huge honour to be one of the small number of business women invited to Downing St recently for an afternoon tea hosted by the Prime Minister where I met some hugely inspiring contacts (including Tech Women!) and it was such a privilege to be invited. I was also hugely honoured to be highly commended in the recent Women Of The Future Awards and to be one of their current ambassadors – the organisation hugely inspires and empowers women so I am so proud to be part of the team.

But the main achievements are the number of websites I have created which are servicing wonderful businesses all over the UK and seeing their success and being a small part of that feels fantastic.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Having no limiting beliefs. Once you work on getting rid of the all ‘if’ ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’ you open yourself up to achieving more and more.  Anything is possibly when there are no limited beliefs. I try to say yes to most things and see everything as an opportunity and a learning and I think having this mindset has really helped me achieve my success so far.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

I think this goes for any industry, but as long as you have a genuine passion for your sectoryou will find ways of opening doors and sharing your skill set, thoughts and expertise. As someone getting into tech, I would say make sure you make time to network and get out there and meet other people, engage online through social media and forums and target and speak to people who inspire you in the industry. Always ask questions, be open to listening and learning and just immerse yourself.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Absolutely as it is to some extent seen as a male industry and a bit dull and boring – which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s all about education and speaking to these young women when they are making their choices and decisions and encouraging them to learn more about the reality of working in tech as a woman and speaking to women who are in their about their careers and experiences and get an honest and insightful impression. I think there is an onus of everyone in tech to educate, inform and share our knowledge with the younger generation and support and grow them.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

It’s hard for me to say as I don’t work in this world, but I think the onus is definitely on management to recognise, reward and encourage women in tech and ensure that gender equality is paramount in their offering and values as a company.

There is currently on 15 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I think it needs to go back to education and ensuring that tech is fairly represented in schools with real-life examples, insight and examples which educate all kids and make tech a serious and accessible option to be encouraged and grown.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Sheryl Sandberg has a created a great community for women called ‘Lean In’ which has many groups called ‘circles’ worldwide. Its available to everyone and its free and I feel that is such an inspirational hub to be part of and she is such a great female leader in tech.

There are loads of tech conferences to attend too. I recently went to the web summit in Lisbon which is one of the biggest tech conferences in the world, this year’s attendance was 48% females which was SO encouraging.

I’m not much of a reader but I love to listen to books on audible on my commute. I listen to all types of podcasts on tech, marketing and design.

Some of my favourites are:

Audible:

• Gary Vee: Crust it, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, #AskGaryVee, Crushing it
• They Ask you Answer
• Purple Cow
• Extreme You

Podcasts:

• Goal Digger
• Being Boss
• Ted Talks Daily
• Marketing Companion