This week I had the amazing opportunity to meet with a room full of women in Lisburn mostly all at the pre-startup stage of running their own businesses. My contribution to the day for the entrepreneurs was to deliver a motivational talk about my journey into running an Award winning business and to mentor at breakout sessions discussing our biggest challenges. By the end there was a great impact of all the women motivating each other, it was incredibly positive, hopefully some lasting collaborations and friendships will have been made. However, no one talked about money or investment, the discussions were all linked to how everyone FELT about taking the leap into self-employment. I suspect this would have been different in a room full of men!
Since my talk I have received a great wave of positive comments and requests to put my talk on YouTube for the benefit of others who were not there, but as my talk was not videoed live this isn’t going to be possible. What I can do is give you some of the ideas here to encourage you to get going, work hard and ask for help from your local council/business network wherever you are in the World.
My motivation to be self-employed was to be able to work around my growing family with school hours, work from home, in a rural village, these things are all obviously challenging ways to setup a business and with no investment capital at all I had only my existing iPhone/ipad/AGA cooker/garden plants and a file full of my handwritten recipes that I had been working on throughout all my adult life before I began to sell any of my own preserves. My AGA cooking is my skill and my own recipes are my Unique Selling Point. You must find yours! What is your passion? If you set up a business doing it you need to love it, can you imagine doing whatever it is every day for the next 5 years at least?
My motivation from the beginning was to run a successful Artisan micro-food business, I have been called a mumpreneur and a foodpreneur, but more importantly than trendy labels I am all about regaining independence after having a family, taking control over my days (between the school hours and frequent holidays) while making money to contribute to my family life.
I set out to do this by seeing my business in 3 simple steps – my products/routes to markets/finding my ideal customer.
If you have your own plans clear in your mind, written down in a blank work book for yourself and the flexibility to admit that your initial plan might need to change along the journey to reach your destination then you have a great starting point. Get help to get a business plan written, ask your local Enterprise Office for the Go For It course in N.Ireland 02892661160.
I have learnt that you will need a dedicated work area the hard way, all my business admin was on the kitchen work surface for the first few years… clearly this is not ideal and documents getting Weetabix spilt on them doesn’t help! You will need good internet access wherever you are in the world, my business had been affected by bad broadband connection in the evenings when I want to work on my website, if you can work from a laptop many cities around the world now have dedicated workspaces to help small-business, in Lisburn this is called City Hub 02892447542.
Once you have started it will be all about the marketing and sales, this is another whole topic! So is the cash flow! So is pricing! So is keeping up with product demand! So is getting over the hurdles which will land in your way, are you ready for them? Can you dust yourself down and carry on? Can you dig deep on emotional reserves when things don’t go to plan? Use your social networks at these times, you are never alone, someone somewhere will have had the same problem.
So I will leave you here, because I have jam to make for an order and hungry children to feed before then, leaving you with the words of Sheryl Sandberg LeanIN