Anne-Marie Fast, Founder and Director of Big Clever Marketing
Specialising in helping B2B tech companies to attract more clients
Two years ago – and closer to 50 than 40 – I was a homeless, newly self-employed single mum with breast cancer. To say that things looked bleak is putting it mildly, but the way I saw it I could either collapse or fight; I fought.
In May 2017, a 20-year career as a corporate high-flyer came to an end when I found myself out of work. Without missing a beat, I set up Big Clever Marketing almost immediately – drawing upon all my expertise as a marketing director to create a service that was driven to get results. I landed a couple of clients and things were looking positive.
Life then took a massive hit in the September when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. A number of treatments didn’t work and I eventually underwent a mastectomy. I was living in rented accommodation at the time with my nine-year-old son and the week before the procedure, I discovered that my landlord needed the flat back and I had to put everything in storage.
Throughout my treatment and recovery – ignoring the advice of medics and loved ones – I continued to work relentlessly. Now effectively homeless and with no sick pay or insurance to rely upon, I didn’t really have a choice, did I?
I ended up staying in my ex-husband’s spare bedroom until I’d had time to recover and take stock of my available options. He was brilliant at that time, as were the clients who knew the situation and stood by me.
On a whim (only six weeks post-op), I applied for a place on NatWest’s ‘Entrepreneur Accelerator’ mentoring programme – delivering a ‘Dragons’ Den’-style pitch whilst still wearing post-surgery compression garb. I was successful and the ensuing six months changed everything for me – providing motivation and accountability in equal measure. The tide started to turn and the business I never gave up on bore fruit.
Within my first year of trading – offering outsourced marketing services including strategy and planning, content marketing packages and one-off marketing projects – I earned enough to buy my own home. Today I’m feeling strong and doing what I love – and the best thing is that I know this is still only the beginning…