Husband and wife business team Gemma and Ryan Daniels know who to call on when they want some good, honest advice at the office.
Their daughter Megan. At just seven years old, she is a valued member of the team at web-designers and multimedia specialists Hydra Creative.
The Abbey Lane Primary School pupil takes part in staff brainstorming sessions, pitches ideas to clients, runs a staff awards system - and stars in the corporate video.
The short film, made last year, stars Megan as the boss of a boardroom filled with her dolls and teddy bears.
Scenes of an adorable, gap-toothed Megan telling her ‘employees’: “I’ve seen too many people waste their money on bad websites and it’s got to stop,” went viral on YouTube and has now had over 230,000 hits. Business Monthly readers can now view it on the Star’s website at www.thestar.co.uk
Proud dad Ryan, 32, reckons it’s helped attract new customers to the business he set up in 2009 after working as a freelance web designer and developer.
“So many people comment on it. They love it,” he says. “Gemma’s mum gave us the idea. She had seen an airline passenger safety video starring a child and thought it was a really good idea.
“Megan was up for it - she’s not shy at all - and we recorded it a line at a time without a single rehearsal.”
Employees at the company on Union Road, Nether Edge have had Megan in their midst since she was born.
“It was needs-must on occasion back then, but got to be regular when she started school at four,” explains Ryan. “Gemma joined the business full-time. Most days, one of us picks Meg up from school and brings her back to the office for a few hours. She does lots of other things, likes Brownies and Karate and going to her friends’ to play, but she loves being at the office.
“In the early days she did have a cheeky habit of telling people in her best Alan Sugar voice: You’re fired! And she did once tell her mummy off for being on Facebook in work hours.
“But as time has gone on she has become more and more helpful. Meg comes into staff meetings, listens very intently when we’re critiquing work for clients and finding ways of improving it and chips in with her thoughts.
“She comes up with really simple things that should have been staring us in the face,” says her dad. Megan enjoys creating her own designs on the office computers, recently helped create new business cards for city marketing consultant Andy Hanselman and gave useful opinion during the development of a new website for the Tropical Butterfly House at North Anston.
For the last two years, she has chosen the venue for the staff summer outing. “Alton Towers - a very popular choice,” says Ryan.
Meg says she enjoys being at work and feels an important part of the 11-strong Hydra Creative workforce, which also includes two of her dad’s nephews. Nathan Richards and Christian Chapman. “I don’t see it as work because it’s fun,” says Megan. “And I think they need me. A lot of the good ideas do come from me...”
Mum Gemma, who is in charge of marketing and accounts, says: “Having Meg at work addresses what all working parents know is a difficult and expensive issue - childcare. But it is a positive experience all round. She is surrounded by positive-thinking, hard-working role models and is learning how to communicate effectively and to make herself heard and understood.
Meanwhile staff have got used to her looking over their shoulders and suggesting a new idea and have learned how to explain things in very simple terms and stop going into tec talk, which we feel is the best way to talk to clients.”
Megan has another way of helping staff... She has devised her own weekly merit awards.
“I got the idea for my Gold Star of The Week from school,” she says. “I give the person who deserves it the most a certificate. “The thing is, if you know you have done something good, then you will keep doing it - and try to win the award again,” she reasons.“Some people are shocked when they walk in to find a very talkative little girl here, but Meg is so charming they warm to her. She often breaks the ice, actually.
Says Ryan: “There are lots of things we can learn from our children Kids are naturally great problem-solvers. They think laterally and find their own way.
Says her proud mum: “Meg is easy to talk to, polite and friendly, full of good ideas and is honest, open and easy to understand - she embodies what we are trying to achieve. She is a mini Hydra Creative.” “Plus having her here proves we have a child-friendly environment. Clients know they can bring their children with them when they come for a meeting. We understand perfectly that it’s hard to separate business and family life.”
Is Megan planning on taking over the business one day? “Yes, but I will only run it in my spare time,” she says. “I really want to be a vet, a doctor - or a karate teacher.”