Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Kelcie Papp, Co-Founder of Sugar Beet

Kelcie Papp is the Co-Founder of Sugar Beet, a remote new business development agency, working with agencies, brands and companies to win new business, based in Lisbon, Portugal.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I always wanted to have a role that allowed me to interact and discover about people, places and systems of working. So after I completed my internship at a PR agency in central London, I moved onto an internal communications role at the biggest insurance company in the UK.

Some time into this role, I realised that working for a huge household name has its pluses, but it also has its minuses. When it came to be creativity within the role, I couldn’t add to the systems in place whatsoever.

At this point, I recognised that working for one set client – as it were – as opposed to several clients felt monotonous. So after a year, I pivoted and joined a marketing agency managing new business accounts.

Finally, I was able to work with numerous people within varied sectors once again, and after some time, I began to carve out my little niche within my role. I was arranging new business meetings for the likes of Management Consultants and, ironically, the second biggest insurance company in the UK.

Sadly, on a Friday morning on a summer day in 2015, I received some unexpected news – the agency I worked under was filing for administration. Although shocking, this allowed me to spread my wings and ultimately carve out my agency.

So, my husband, I, (who worked as a Marketing Manager for an IT company) joined forces. On a bright July afternoon, Sugar Beet was born. A New Business Agency.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Mornings are my best part of the day. So once I have my decaf americano with milk to hand, I’m checking my tabbed news outlets for the latest agency wins and newest corporate partnerships.

This helps me keep my finger on the pulse industry-wise and be on the lookout for opportunities for both Sugar Beet and our clients. After this download of the latest going on’s, I check my calendar to get mentally prepared for the time I have allocated for each client I’m serving that day.

If anything jumps to mind on a personal to-do level, instead of writing out a list, I put each thing into my calendar in 10 minutes increments within my lunch hour. This allows me to give my clients 100% while taking care of important personal matters too.

The tabs on my browser incorporate Gmail, Hubspot, Outreach, Mailchimp and LinkedIn. Today, before my work for my clients began – around 8:15 AM – I uploaded a video onto LinkedIn for our Business Development network, and later in the morning I secured an initial corporate partnership meeting with the world’s largest insurer for a client.

Lunchtimes always include a fresh air break of a short walk to and around Parque de Eduardo next to where we live.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

We’ve been working remotely since July 2015, and honestly, this doesn’t only fit into our life and routine.

Still, it allows us to create transparent, reliable systems that get our clients results but also allow us to live our personal lives fully. When you can start and finish work at any time, anywhere, it makes you conscious of what are your most important things.

I established boundaries when we first started back five years ago, and although at times I break my own rules, I don’t beat myself up – I start the next day with the impetus of giving the client what they pay for and also esteeming personal matters.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you, and how do you work to achieve that goal?

For me, a work-life balance is actually keeping an imbalance.

But let me explain this.

Although each client receives above and beyond my all when I’m working for them, my life, my personal matters will always mean more to me. This means that I only take on a set number of clients per year and block out time each week for volunteer work.

The effects of too much stress on the body and mind are too significant not to ignore. So I work to safeguard myself against this.

5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

The Pareto Principle has blown my world up in the past two years. And it made me reevaluate the decisions I make every day on what I decide to spend my time on.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Any genuine New Business Developer should read Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition by Anthony Iannarino. At least once. The Morning Brew is a fantastic daily inbox drop that I signed up to and have not once regretted.

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Always wake up 30 minutes before you think you probably should. Never start work without connecting to another human – albeit a conversation over coffee with your spouse or a 5-minute call to your mum or dad. I find connecting to those people who mean the world to me before I give my energy to my work always centres me.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Honestly, I would be interested in hearing about work-life balance from anyone who has successfully founded and grown their own business without forsaking their original vision.

If this couldn’t be, and we could go back in time – learning of Ernest Hemingway’s work-life balance would be an exceptional adventure.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think while you should give 100% to everything you set out to do in life, the more important things should always take first place.

When it comes to business, I will encourage anyone thinking about starting on their business always to keep things transparent and offer help whenever it’s within your power to do so.

I am a new business agency co-founder, but that isn’t my life. Life is precious and exciting and ready to be grabbed with both hands – show up for yourself!

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.