Interviews

Overcoming adversity: No label will define who I am or what I can achieve

6 min read

15 January 2018

Deputy Editor, Real Business

It's only when the chips are down that we discover what we're made of. AM Marketing's Amy McManus tells her story of overcoming adversity – and how she took the business to new heights.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” While it may be a timeless quote, powering through when life hands you lemons isn’t that easy. Even more so when you throw a business into the mix.

It’s a stressful experience on its own. But that doesn’t mean success is beyond reach. Life is a constant process of taking two steps forward and one step back. Even if you get thrown five spaces backwards, it’s all about overcoming adversity by finding your drive to move forwards once more.

It’s a mentality many hope to possess when the situation arises, and those who display it are inspirations. One such leader taking challenges in her stride is Amy McManus, founder of AM Marketing and the most recent winner of the Amazon Growing Business Awards’ overcoming adversity category – a personification of what it means to never give up.

AM Marketing has been labelled a game-changer within its crowded industry, placing emphasis on getting to know clients and offering bespoke services to each one. It endeavours to be transparent at all times, bypassing the red tape and politics that can often happen within larger companies.

McManus’ husband and business partner Bradley collected the award

A year after its creation, however, McManus was involved in a car collision. She told Real Business: “The crash left me bed-bound and unable to walk unaided. In addition to physical injuries, I was left with PTSD, anxiety and depression. I had gone from starting a new business to moving back to my parents’ house. I started therapy and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do.

“To this day I suffer with chronic pain, depression and anxiety. But AM Marketing was never left behind. I was set on overcoming adversity, that I was not going to become a failure statistic.”

Grit, determination, support and dedication, as well as a passionate team, ensured the business met the hurdle head-on.

Taking AM Marketing by the reigns, alongside husband and fellow director Bradley, she’s led the business to achieve unsurmountable growth. They have an impressive portfolio of clients all over the world and have experience working on accounts such as Disney, VW Group, Harrods and Carlsburg Group.

“Throughout all of this, we stuck to our core values and focused on providing a great service,” McManus explained of the company’s growth. “In an industry that seems completely dominated and highly-competitive, we’ve found a niche. Good-quality, honest marketing services that people talk about. Most of our work comes from referral and our clients generally stay with us for a long time.”

Each member of the team is encouraged to become a specialist in their field, with juniors or graduates made to finish training before managing client accounts.

“Growth success has also come off the back of good staff treatment,” she added. “We look after their physical and mental wellbeing. After all, people that are happy within their jobs and enjoy their work will look after your clients.”

Frank discussion and full honesty with husband and business partner Bradley, McManus said, helps push the business forward

Her approach to business is working, as she’s been listed as a finalist for Women of the Future’s Young Entrepreneur Award, as well as the IoD’s Young Director of the Year. That being said, we asked her for advice for those starting on their own growth journey.

“Don’t forget why you want to scale,” McManus advised. “Don’t compare yourself to others either as this will only cause you issues. What people display on social/ outside isn’t necessarily what’s happening behind closed doors.

“Also, don’t try to be Superman/ woman. If you’re not good with numbers, get an accountant, etc. Paying a good quality professional to help you with the elements you hate or aren’t good at will save you time, money and your sanity! Then you can concentrate on what you’re good at. Do, however, find your unique USPs and keep yourself grounded and engaged with customers.”

Most of all, continue to drive forwards.

As McManus said of her own experience: “I could have curled up into a ball, felt sorry for myself or stayed in bed all day, but I chose to get things done and keep going.

“I am not defined by my injuries or mental illness and will not let any label define who I am going to be and what the business will achieve.”


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