Ange Dove is the founder and CEO at Proof Perfect. Without her, our humble little office filled with talented writers and designers from all over the world (plus one crazy cat) wouldn’t exist.
Since Ange Dove founded Proof Perfect in 2003, the company has grown from strength to strength. Over the last 25 years, she’s worked with high-profile clients like Marina Bay Sands, Holiday Inn and NUS. And as one of the earliest established content writers in Singapore, she did a lot of the hard graft all by herself.
In honour of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day this 19 November, we sat down with Ange Dove to discuss how the company came to be, her own personal career mistakes and highlights, and what she’s most looking forward to for the future of Proof Perfect.
Where and how did the Proof Perfect journey begin?
When I set up Proof Perfect, everyone except my husband told me not to. I was leaving a secure job as Head of English in a business school, and it was a time of economic uncertainty. But I was determined. I wanted a way I could stay at home and look after my two toddlers and earn an income at the same time. Freelance writing was an obvious option because technology at the time was making it all possible.
But my plans were scuppered when demand for my services grew really fast. I just hadn’t anticipated the success and soon found myself super busy trying to do it all – raise kids, run a household, write copy, visit clients, do sales and marketing and admin.
That’s when Proof Perfect really became a business. I had to move into an office and hire staff to meet the customer demand. Then, a few years later, we brought graphic and web design in-house and became a fully-fledged marketing agency for our clients.
But things don’t stay the same, and the trend for online marketing was too big to ignore, so we adapted and added inbound and content marketing to our list of services.
If you could give one piece of advice to Ange Dove when she first launched the business, what would it be?
Oh my gosh. There would be so many! I made so many mistakes as I wasn’t business trained at all when I first started.
I would say the biggest advice I would give would be hire above you, get people in who are good at what you can’t do, and hire on attitude. Don’t try to train someone to fit a position they clearly aren’t right for. Hire slowly and find the person who fits. And be quick to let someone go if the fit isn’t right. It sounds harsh, but the success of your business depends on it.
Describe what it’s like to lead the Proof Perfect team.
The Proof Perfect team are an AMAZING bunch of people. I’m proud to have them. It’s exciting when they work together to come up with great and really creative ideas.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made along the way? What did you learn from it?
Not getting help when I needed it. In business, you need a coach. Someone who has been there before, who knows the pitfalls and can help you avoid them.
What are you most proud of? Have you completed any stand-out projects?
I guess I’m proud that I’ve grown personally and that the business has lasted 15 years. I’m looking forward to the next 15!
My favourite projects are working on brand voice. I love being part of a team that creates the brand and gives it a distinct voice. We’ve done this for Holiday Inn, Next Hotels and Sage Hotels, to name a few.
Any work-related words of wisdom that have stayed with you?
My coach recently said something that really resonated – What you allow is what will continue. If something doesn’t work or you’re not happy with something, don’t be a victim – change it.
Where do you see Proof Perfect in the future? Are there any exciting projects on the horizon?
I see a lot of room ahead in the digital space. Video marketing would definitely be something we can’t ignore. We’ve recently added on a branding arm and a PR arm so offering consultancy and workshops in these areas is really exciting for me.
And finally, if you could have dinner with five people, dead or alive, who would they be?
- President Obama. He’s such a good orator and has a very calm demeanour. That’s something I’d like to learn.
- Businesses coaches I’ve had along the way including Aaron Sansoni, Christine Gallagher, Grace Lever.
- Alice Cooper. I’ve loved him since I was 14 years old. I love his brand and how he’s grown over the years – and his music, of course! I’m a rock chick at heart and always will be.
- Pope Francis. I love what he’s doing and the fact he’s living by example.
- Thomas Edison. I’d like to find out what drove him to keep going after every failure.
To find out more about Ange Dove, visit angedove.com.