Your Friday Entrepreneur Fix this week stars SourceBottle founder Rebecca Derrington, who’s remade the relationship between journalists and expert sources and created a profitable business in the process.
Rebecca Derrington was heavily pregnant when she launched SourceBottle, a service designed to bridge the gap between journalists and bloggers and the expert sources they need.
She’d been a self-employed PR consultant after the birth of her first child, playing referee in what she calls the “cat and mouse tango” being danced by sources and journalists. Tired of the inefficient dynamic in which journalists were inundated with unsolicited pitches every day and hundreds of thousands of relevant sources weren’t picked up by media outlets, she decided to launch her own sourcing service.
The catalyst for launching the business came when a client prospect expected Derrington to be available in the week she was due to give birth. The client asked her to confirm availability and the subsequent rise in blood pressure brought on the light bulb moment she’d so sorely been waiting for.
That was three years ago, and in just that short span of time SourceBottle has grown into an international business, with a whopping 14,500 subscribers – a number that’s growing on a daily basis.
Here, Derrington tells Dynamic Business how she overcame the self-doubt that plagues many entrepreneurs to turn SourceBottle into a profitable business.
Q. How hard was it for you to take the leap into entrepreneurship?
I found it very scary at first. Not only because I doubted myself, but also because of the social isolation that came with running a technology-based business on my own. I had to keep telling myself to “suck it up, princess”, to stick with it and never give up.
Q. What kind of teething problems did the business face in the early days? How did you manage these?
The biggest challenge I faced was building a following and subscriber base. When you’re virtually unknown and trying to push a business that’s a little left of centre, it can be very challenging.
There wasn’t a lot of support for the service at first, which is why I’m so grateful to a handful of journalists who took interest in the service and were patient with it, rather than abandoning it if their initial searches (when there were only a few hundred subscribers) weren’t successful.
Dynamic Business Magazine editor Jen Bishop was one of these journalists and for that I’m so grateful to her.
What would you say your proudest business achievement to date has been?
There hasn’t been one single defining moment, or proudest day. It’s more a series of small successes or milestones that I like to celebrate, which have led me to where I am now.
Q. What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make since launching SourceBottle?
The biggest sacrifice I make is with my time. I often feel I forego time that could be spent with my children, my husband, friends and by myself. But I think everyone struggles with this, whether they’re running their own business or working for someone else, and we just accept it has to be this way.
Q. What’s your secret to balancing work demands with your family responsibilities?
I’m really not sure I do this particularly well, so I’m no role model. For me, the secret is constantly striving to do more on less sleep.
Q. What advice would you offer to those who think they don’t have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
I’d remind them that they do have what it takes because if you don’t believe that, no one else will. I sincerely believe you have to back yourself and believe in your product or service, because you need to push yourself to go a little further when there’s nothing left in the tank and at this point the only thing that will sustain you is your passion and desire to make it work.
Q. What’s next for SourceBottle?
I’ve just launched a customised site for the US and Canada. Unlike other sourcing tools available in North America, SourceBottle is exclusively focused on topics around women’s interests, including beauty, business, home and lifestyle, health, parenting and relationships. Considering women make 85 percent of consumer purchases in the US, the “She Economy” is generating more products and services for female consumers, more marketers are focused on reaching specific female demographics and more bloggers and journalists are covering topics related to women’s interests.
So, SourceBottle doesn’t duplicate what already exists, instead it’s tailored specifically and only for journalists and bloggers who need sources for their stories on women’s interests, and for PR professionals who represent expert sources who can provide insight on these topics.
A customised site for the UK is next.