(Photos from the launch of Charlotte Elizabeth in Spring 2016)
With life turning 'upside down and inside out' for many, now is seeming to be a time where many are looking to finally go after that business idea that they've been sitting on. The coronavirus pandemic has certainly shone a light on the value of entrepreneurial spirit more than ever, which is why I wanted to share some top tips for those considering going after their own dream, too.
I know how lonely, isolating and daunting it can be to go after your business vision, but I know just how important some words of encouragement from someone who has walked the journey can be. Since Charlotte Elizabeth's launch in 2016 and the following successes over the past 4 years of trading, I've been looking back to the key points of what I believe makes a 'successful' entrepreneur.
I hope these tips can be useful to yourself or anyone you know who is creating their own business dream, too. Do make sure to share this post with them or other friends venturing on their own journey!
1. Get a good support system
I am super lucky and grateful that I have such wonderfully supportive family members who only want the best for me and such incredible friends who are always there for me, through the ups and downs of it all.
Starting your own business is a mammoth mission. It is no easy feat and so many do not come as far to actually begin, so having that support system is integral to keep you going, to clap for you when things go right, and give you support for when things don't.
2. Get used to failing!
Ah, failure. Such a normal part of life, but one which never gets any easier!
Putting yourself, your idea, and your product/service 'out there' is daunting for failure-fearers, because it offers an opportunity for others to witness your failure, not just you.
I cannot BEGIN to tell you just how many times I have failed in my time since running Charlotte Elizabeth. Of course, failure is how you choose to define it and within every failure, is room for success.
Failure for me often means that I have chosen not to listen to my gut, my inner voice, my heart or misaligned with mine and my brand's values.
3. Take it step by step
You may have heard of the phrase 'it's a marathon, not a sprint', and I'm bringing it up for good reason.
In a day and age where society praises quick-fixes and get-rich-quick mindsets, I feel it is even more important than ever to find strength and stability - and that comes with looking at your business plan as a long game.
Every day, avoid piling too much pressure on yourself. Be nice to yourself and learn now how to be a good boss to yourself (the journey never-ends, but hey-ho, it's good to start being aware of it now!). Look at brands whom you admire. Remember they all started with an idea, just like yours.
Show up every day. If you can.
Just like climbing a mountain, do it by placing one foot in front of the other. And ask for help when you need help climbing the mountain, too.
4. Look after yourself first
I really believe that it all begins within.
You are the walking, talking, thinking, creating, communicating personification of your business, so if you are 'off balance' in any sense, of course, your business will be too.
You will naturally have self-doubt, worries, fears, and anxieties. All of these are very natural. But in looking after yourself in a basic, supportive manner, through eating well, exercising, getting fresh air, and keeping connected, you really will begin to notice a difference.
5. Self-motivation and determination
Ever had the thought of 'why does she get that, I want that!' or 'life is so unfair, I will never be able to have that' or 'that's just me, I'll never be able to achieve anything like they have'. This is your inner critic and it will throw unhelpful attacks at you the more challenge you offer it.
The key is to find your reason WHY very early on. Why are you doing this in the first place? Your why will help to pull you through the hardest of moments in your journey.
To be an entrepreneur you must be able to self-motivate and have a hell of a lot of determination. Of course, every skill can be exercised, but I do believe from my years of experience and meeting other entrepreneurs that this is what sets apart those who succeed and those who fail.
6. Shine your uniqueness on the world
I find it quite incredible, mind-blowing even, how every single one of us on this earth is totally unique, has fought against all odds to even make it into the womb AND to be born? Now that really is amazing. Take a moment just to think about that, along with the fact that you are also made of stardust, and are spinning away on a rock through space. Yes.
So why do you feel that you have to be like everyone else? Why do you mold yourself into something you're not, to make others happy?
Of course, we are all prisoners of conforming to what we think we should be over who we actually are, but it really is important to make a daily effort of being YOU over what you think you should be.
Every successful brand is not one that has copied another. So be you, and go after the most 'you' idea for your business, too.
7. Would you use your service/product?
This is such a basic question which so many never ask themselves, but it is so important to ask yourself this along your business journey.
If you were a customer of your product/service, would you use the product/service? Really answer as honestly as possible. If it is an instant 'YES!', then you really are on to something. However, if you pause, or are hesitant, then please re-evaluate what would make you love it now - do not avoid confronting this head-on! DO IT NOW!
8. Find your boundaries
We all have our own unique set of wants and needs, so really do learn to honour these.
I think it's a really healthy exercise to sit down with a pen and paper, twice a year or so, and write down 'at this point in my life, what fills me up and what does not?'.
For example, at one point in my career I loved public speaking and doing press interviews. However, on one occasion I got what I'd term as 'stage fright', and since I have never done a public speaking event again. And that's ok and should be respected, not disrespected.
I also got invited to many swanky parties, dinners and black-tied do's. I went to a few and though it may be some peoples dream, to be surrounded with high-ranking celebrities sipping champagne, I could not have felt more flat, if I'm totally honest, and would have been far happier being at home, curled up in bed with a good book and dog by my side!
In a world of online taking over, it is a balance of finding how much you want to share of yourself and your personal life. Please do not do something just because others are doing it, even though you feel grotesquely uncomfortable doing it. My goodness, I tried to do YouTube over and over, but alas, that just isn't what works for me!
Of course, there is a balance to be played with here as life is not perfect and it really is such a privilege to have a choice. I do believe that it is about stepping out of your comfort zone WHILST keeping a sense of 'wholeness' AND feeling like it feels your glass up, not taking from it.
The key lesson to take away here is to do what will help you grow and remain feeling you while doing so. It's a challenge and will require a lot of mini and large failures to realise what makes you feel good - but it really will be worth it.
9. Is it short term or long term?
It's really important now to look at your business plan and ask yourself 'is it short term or long term?'. A lot of people create business plans simply to 'come up with an idea'. But you really need to work out what is actually in it for you. Do you want it as a short-term project or something with a bit more longevity?
Knowing this will help you with finding the pace that works for you, too.
10. What are you scared of?
Finally, a question I ask myself often.
'What are you scared of?'.
It's a great question to tune into very often. Fear of failure is so mighty that it can make you fail before you have even got anywhere, by simply giving up! Ask yourself what your anxieties and fears are saying? If you shut your eyes, who do these inner voices sound like? Who comes up in your mind if you imagine yourself failing?
Challenge these thoughts, does it really actually matter, in the grand scheme of life, if you fail? If you embarrass yourself in front of ex-colleagues or family members? If it doesn't work out? If you do something that doesn't take off how you'd planned?
When you realise that YOU are the only one holding yourself back from the inevitable: failure, then you will begin to realise that you may as well give it a shot.
For you are stardust, with a completely unique make-up and mind to anyone else on this planet, holding an idea which no one else can do. You may as well go ahead and do it... then!
Good luck on your journey, gentle and fierce warrior.