For the last 3 months, as the host of the Successful Women Podcast Show, I have had the privilege of talking to many successful female entrepreneurs, finding out their secrets of success as well as how they have overcome challenges in their business journeys.
After recording over 50 episodes and having a lot of fun; some of it face to face with my trusty microphone in my bag, others over Skype, I thought I would capture some of those golden nuggets in one place and get a sense of some of the common themes that have been shared by my guests.
If you follow the link in each guests' name, you will be able to access each interview as well as a full transcript of their interview and at this point, I should like to thank the series' sponsor, Ladycare - UK for their support and making the show possible.
Our first interview was with Sarah Carlile the founding director of Coconut Creatives, the number one choice for franchise recruitment marketing. Knowing that more and more women are being attracted to franchises, I asked Sarah for her tips on taking that step.
I would always look at first and foremost what is it that you want out of life, before you even look at the franchise industry or whatever arena that you want to go into. What is it that you want, what drives you? I would always recommend that people have a vision board, I think once you are quite clear on where you want to be and where you want to go, it becomes a lot easier to look at what vehicle you are going to choose to achieve that. So franchising is often a route where most people want that proven business model where they know that the chances of making a success of it are a lot higher because the only area for maneuverability is themselves.
On a personal level Sarah suggested that being able to delegate effectively was one of the biggest issues for many of their clients, when growing their business and stressed the importance of being able to delegate and let go.
Episode 02 saw me interviewing Sofie Scott, the Managing Director of Ash Elite a specialist legal recruitment agency. Sofie was born in Sweden, but runs her company in the UK, where she has settled with her husband and son. Sofie left Sweden at the age of 19 to travel around Europe and has a very positive attitude to life and her business:
I think you need to recognise what you are good at and what you are not good at and you need to accept that that will help you. Using your weaknesses as well is an opportunity to learn more and build your knowledge and take it forward rather than perhaps “well I have never run a business before I always work in support functions so clearly it can’t be for me”. But why can’t you go down to the library and borrow a few books, why can’t you go and study for another degree. There is so many things that you can do to make it happen for yourself.
Sofie's view on success echoes mine and is definitely worth quoting...
Being successful is doing something that you love and getting satisfaction from it. If you have got that and if you are happy, then to me, you are successful.
Now you would expect someone whose business is health and well being to have a good work/life balance and put in the effort to look after themselves, wouldn't you? Well as far as award-winning entrepreneur and salon owner, Jemma Cooper is concerned, that is definitely the case.
I make sure that I eat well, take lots of vitamins to make sure that I get the most out of every day.
My motto, and this is what I try to live by ... passion, choice, commitment and self belief are the key to success and leave the rest to chance and fate. So that’s my motto that kind of sums up what I personally do.
The passion part is where, if you have an idea of what it is that you want and you have the passion behind that it is achievable. That feeling behind it makes it possible, so I think that is where I get the passion from and nobody can ever take that away from you. Choice as well, it is partly about making the right decisions and making a choice, but going with your gut feeling. So if something doesn’t feel right don’t do it. Commitment, be dedicated make sure that you are willing to commit your time and you will need to make other sacrifices to start off with, because you need to invest that money into business, it is about making it not just expecting it to constantly happen for you. Self-belief, believe in yourself, but I think that again that is really important, believe in yourself that you have the ability to make it happen.
That health and wellbeing message is echoed by many of my guests, none more so than Ali Dolphin a cognitive behavioural therapist, NLP master practitioner and hypnotherapist.
I try to be quite structured, but I also make time to go and have a massage and go and pamper myself at the local spa as well, because in order to live well we do need to look after ourselves and be kind to ourselves. If I am wanting other people to be kind to themselves and to find a place of emotional well being then it is important for me to model that as well and so building in time for friends, building in time for spas, building in times to have my nails done that is all important because it makes me feel good about myself and that in turn enables and equips me to feel more confident about providing a service for people.
If all goes well is get up in the morning, walk the dog, come back and do meditation and yoga just to sort of get my mind and body balance before I start the day.
That first hour, is hugely important to many - here are award-winning nutritionist and author Barbara Cox's views:
I always start the morning taking care of myself before I take care of anyone else. I love waking up early that is my time for me, to do my yoga. I always start with yoga, I only do 20 minutes, just stretching and stuff which is really nice. I can’t do meditation for some reason, one minute into a meditation and my to - do list starts popping into my head, so I wish I could crack that one.
So after the school run, if it is a nice day I might go for a beach walk if I can fit an hour beach walk, that is also the time, you know multi-tasking woman that I am, I plan in my head the rest of the day or I put on a personal development CD or something to listen to en route so I am constantly doing something else.
Inspirational Mumpreneur and Mum of 5 Sinead Dunne..
I get up at 6 o’clock and I have my hour of power so it is like, I work out and I will do my mindset work before my children get up because I have to have that, then I get the family up, set, organised and out of the door and then it is business then until 3 o’clock.
Like Sinead, many of my guests have turned to entrepreneurship, to overcome the challenges that raising a family whilst working in a corporate world brings.
A great example of making a success of the transition from corporate role to business owner is Lucy Erskine, managing director of Gungho Marketing. Lucy was an international sales manager, working all over Europe, but after the birth of her first child, she didn’t want the big job anymore and wanted to come home back to the UK to have a better work life balance. She had to take a demotion, but after a year or so of working in a sales team doing cold calling, she decided that she could do it herself from home and run her own telemarketing company and that's when she started Gungho.
The reason why I wanted to set up my own business was to have the flexibility and to be my own boss, so not to have a start time and finish time. Just to work when it suited me, that was the main driver really starting Gungho, but it has obviously grown into so much more than that. It was really what drove me was the work life balance that I could have, that I could have all of the holidays off that I wanted, that was the main driving force, but then you start to see the opportunity, the financial opportunity and you think “Hang on a minute if I scale this a little bit more, then I could reach this financial goal”. So I had some personal financial goals that I wanted to reach and that drove me really to grow Gungho a little bit bigger and then obviously reach a threshold and then you think “I can get to the next stage” so you just keep going.
Lucy also benefited from having a number of business mentors through a scheme called Dormen, that operates in Dorset where her business is based:
– Yeah, he was like –‘what the hell are you doing, just go for it’. And that is what I needed, a bit of a shove, because although I take risks, I always take very cautious, calculated risks and that to me was maybe a risk too far, but he just said “Go for it” and then my mentor today, helps me cement my growth plans for Gungho and sanity checks my business plan, and again she gives me courage to keep going with what I want to do and just helps me make me feel more secure in my decisions. So without Dormen I don’t think Gungho would be where it is today. I think I would probably still been in that tiny office.
Vicki Fernyhough, the Managing Director of 'The Yard' was a Director with the retail company New Look, when the corporate lifestyle began to impact on her family life. She stepped away to follow her dream of creating her own retail store and says:
So I had spent many years travelling the world and I had got this kind of mental list of what made a good retailer, what excited me when I went into the shop and what was different about certain shops that others didn’t seem to capture.
I then started to do this in a more kind of scientific way and I looked at all the best retailers in the world and just thought what do they have that I could either do the same or do better or take my slant on that? So I kind of put that all into one big pot and decided that that was where I was going to go. So I had a really clear identity of what I wanted the shop to look like before I opened it and I think that was really important.
The thing is, you can’t predict who is going to be your customer, although I knew what I wanted the shop to look like I didn’t know this is what my customers were going to want. So that is something that you have go to be prepared to do, is to learn and be flexible very quickly because you don’t have that long to get it right. At Yard we have changed quite significantly the brand mix that we stock from the day that we opened the shop.
The guilt that many working Mums suffer from, often impacts on their success at work and in business. Sometimes it takes others to put things into perspective. Here's entrepreneur and award-winning copywriter Kerry Brind's take on the issue:
I think it was two things really, one I felt that I was getting really stressed out and I was turning into not a particularly patient mother, you know when you have got a client trying to call you and your kids are in the background, I just thought, you know what, this isn’t fair on them. When I went freelance and I started my own business so that I could be there for them and I wasn’t being there for them so that was kind of the first thing, I kind of looked and took a long hard look in the mirror and thought, you know what, this isn’t working for me and isn’t working for them. I need to make some changes so that was one of the first things and the second thing was I had been building my business and I wanted to reach that tipping point where obviously childcare costs money and you need to offset one with the other and I had come so close to it, but I just couldn’t quite reach it and it suddenly occurred to me that I was sabotaging my own success, because I wouldn’t take that final step, I wouldn’t take that chance because of my mother’s guilt. So I had a wonderful friend come up from London and she doesn’t have any children, but she did used to work in a nursery for quite a long time. And I was talking to her about how I was having these guilty feelings and James was going to preschool one morning a week and he seemed to really love it, but I just didn’t, want to be unfair to him and she said something really interesting to me, she said “How long does he go to preschool for?” and I said “Oh from about 8.45 in the morning until about 2.30 in the afternoon” and she was like “Kerry seriously just put him in there, it is a few hours and he is having a really good time, they will be paying him all the attention in the world, he will be painting, he will be playing, he will be stimulated” and she said “ You know you are so lucky that you don’t need to drop your child at nursery at 7 o’clock in the morning and pick him up at 7 o’clock at night. It is the best of both worlds, you will feel better for it and he will feel better for it”. And nobody had just been that blunt with me before, of course because a lot of my other friends are also working mums and they were going through the same guilt as I had, so we were all like oh well, this is difficult isn’t it, we were all umming and arrghing and it took someone to say stop being silly, just do it. So I followed that advice and he is really happy, he loves it there, I am happy because I get the time to do my work and most importantly my clients are happy, because I get to do my best work for them. I think finding that balance as a working mum is really really difficult but once you do find it, I think that is when you thrive in your business. It is different for everyone and the level that you need to work at.
If you are a working Mum and also struggling with that huge albatross 'working mother's guilt' - and If you are in the UK - why not head over to our resources page and get a signed copy of 'Celebr8 Success - How to be a successful working mum without the guilt?' delivered to your door. (Or a friend's if you prefer)
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