When I made the decision to start my own business last year I had no idea where to begin.
All I knew was that I had a passion and I wanted to serve others by sharing that with the world. So armed with a handbag full of dreams and a handy little tool called the Internet I set about bringing my vision to life.
Flash forward one year (where has the time gone seriously?) and I’ve learned A LOT about how to run a business effectively. I’ve also learned what not to do, like, ever.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me take you back to the beginning of my journey.
Developing an entrepreneurial spark
At twenty years old I won a scholarship through Entrepreneurial Scotland to intern in San Diego for the summer.
Winning the internship was a huge achievement in and of itself, but having the opportunity to meet the man who’d paid for it added a whole new layer to the experience. For some reason, this stranger had chosen me to invest his money and more importantly belief into. What's more, while I was in the US he wanted to meet in person.
As breakfast came to a close and I desperately clamoured to retain all the wisdom he’d imparted on me he pressed a book into my palms. This is for you, don’t doubt the impact you can make on this world.
I scanned the cover ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead’ by Sheryl Sandberg (former COO of Facebook so you know she’s the real deal). As soon as I got back to the UK I read the book cover to cover then proceeded to lend it to any of my friend’s who’d take it. Even the ones who wouldn’t.
Falling back instead of leaning in
Among other things, the book talks about misogyny in the workplace and women standing in the way of their own success.
Sheryl argues that men come into the world with an innate knowing that they’re going to succeed. On the other hand, women feel like the door has already been slammed in their faces before they’ve even had a chance to sit down at the table (often it has). As a black woman, unfortunately, this rings even more true.
Seven years since the book was published there’s been a distinct shift in the digital economy. We’re leaving behind conventional business structures and reimagining them entirely. We’re coming into our own with online courses, membership sites, life coaching certifications and so much more. It’s an exciting time to be alive.
But with this advent of the ‘fempreneur’ and the ‘boss babe’, there’s also an ugly counterpart. A Jekyll to the Hyde. That is the fear of not doing enough. Not working hard enough. It’s this idea that well if want to survive in a man’s world then maybe we need to become the men.
So we do it. We adopt the masculine energy.
We hustle and grind and encourage others around us to do the same. We use aggression to communicate our messages instead of love. Because, well, isn’t that what he would do?
To begin with, it seems everything is going according to plan until you realise the heart palpitations aren’t excitement but anxiety. That you can’t remember the last time you slept for more than four hours a night. You begin to dread the very thing that brought you so much joy in the first place.
Curled up in a ball you wonder ‘Is it supposed to feel like this?’
Outsourcing is not cheating
Asking for help is not synonymous with failure. It simply isn’t possible to invest 100% of your energy into everything. When I first started my business I had an idea of how I wanted my life to look but what I didn’t know was how to shape that into a living, breathing thing.
So I hired a coach.
I wanted to learn from someone who’d walked the path I’d be taking and someone who’d stop me from getting in my own way. To date, it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Yes, in terms of setting up my business, but also because there is immense power to be gained from betting on yourself. From saying I know I deserve this.
You don’t have to do it alone
On the topic of asking for help just because you no longer have the typical office structure doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself of that office culture.
Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs working towards similar goals, in fact even bigger ones. Their dreams will push you to take more control over your own. They prove what’s possible and they wipe your face through the screen when you need to be picked back up. I think we all have those moments. I’m not ashamed of mine, if I was I wouldn’t be writing this post.
An accountability partner doesn’t have to be someone you already know. Honestly, it’s probably better if they don’t know you because then you're not afraid to be completely open with them. Open about having a huge vision for the future and open about struggles when to the rest of the world it appears you’re doing fine. The accountability partners I have I’ve still never met in *the real world*, but I reached out to them because I resonated with their stories and the way that they did business. Above all find someone you vibe with and make an agreement check-in with each other on a regular basis.
It’s good to meet people in real life too so you can remember what other humans look and feel like. It’s surprisingly easy to isolate yourself as an entrepreneur. More than just connecting to others like you I’ve learned the value of connecting with people that will challenge me and call me out on my bullshit.
It’s okay to rest
Burnout isn’t sexy.
I like to sleep. I like waking up in the morning without a huge weight on my chest. But with that said I’m about to share two conflicting pieces of advice.
Yes, absolutely, you should be showing up on social media to let your audience know you exist. But if you just don’t feel like it one day then you don’t feel like it. It’s not productive to work so hard that one day you look at what you’ve created and take delight in visualising it burning to the ground, passing round party hats and dancing among the withered remains.
On that note. Stop. Fucking. Apologising. I don’t care if you’re gone for 24 hours or an entire month you don’t need to apologise. Why? Because saying sorry means you feel bad about it. That you feel guilty for taking ownership of your time. Really think about that. Somewhere along the line being busy became a token of achievement. But what are you busy doing? How do you feel after you’re done being busy, that is if that period even ends?
I’m not saying a business doesn’t take work (spoiler alert: it does). It’s probably the most responsibility I’ve ever had apart from feeding and watering myself on a regular basis. All I’m saying is it’s never worth compromising your own mental health for the sake of doing ‘enough’.
This is why scheduling tools like Tailwind are a godsend. And hey, if you master them well enough nobody need ever know you’ve even gone.
Find inspiration in moments of joy
Remember that freedom business you started to have, you know, more freedom? How’s that going?
I can tell you right now that my biggest bouts of inspiration 9/10 time don’t come when I’m sat staring into the abyss of my 101 Google Docs or Chrome tabs. But this shouldn't be surprising. As a creative, you need to be surrounded by things that inspire you to think waaaay bigger than just a tiny screen. Having fun is one of the best business tools in your arsenal.
And I know people love to wax lyrical about ‘work a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’ blah blah blah I am SO tired of hearing that. I truly love what I do. Do you know what else I love?
Knocking back Bloody Marys in the sun.
Trying to work out how they’re going to spin yet another season of Stranger Things.
Travelling to a new city and getting lost in the magic of it all.
Belly laughs with friends I haven’t seen in years.
That’s a joy that work can’t give me, and I would never want it to.
Never give up your seat at the table
One year on I’ve learned that some of the best parts about being a female entrepreneur revolve around leaning into the feminine energy.
Connecting with my clients over struggles they’re having and empathising because I know how it feels to start something new or to wish there were more hours in a day. Having a phone call with my accountability partner and showing her a new perspective on a problem she’s been having. Writing blog posts like this for you. Closing my laptop at the end of the day and knowing that even if only in a small way I’ve made a difference. Falling in love with my business all over again.
You don’t need to be a man to succeed.
At this table just being you is more than enough.
Managing overwhelm in your business
On that note, if you want to join my table (for real there are always seats and delicious snacks here so I highly recommend it) and cut some overwhelm out of your business for good - let’s chat. I love to help female entrepreneurs grow their businesses using the power of Pinterest.
Helping you to save HOURS of time by showing you the exact strategies you need to use to drive traffic is kind of my jam. Or if you want to hand off that side of your business altogether babysitting was my first job and I’m pretty damn good at it, oh and managing Pinterest accounts too.
Just hit the button below to book your free 30-minute consultation and I’ll take care of the rest.