Letter to a female entrepreneur part 1
Dear fierce, smart and beautiful boss lady,
At first they will ask you what you’re doing? Why don’t you get a proper job? When you become successful that changes to: how did you do that?
Being an entrepreneur can mean you have to be able to believe in yourself when no one else does. I want you to know that you are capable of anything. If you believe it, you can achieve it.
Growing up I had nobody around me that worked in the creative industry or that owned their own business but they are two things that I ended up doing in my life. I started my career as a freelance journalist writing about music, entertainment and culture. At the time I didn’t feel that we were seeing enough positive representations of young people and black people in the media and I couldn’t find a publication that contained content or images that I could relate to as a young black women born in England. So at the age of 24 I embarked on my own youth lifestyle publishing company. I created the kind of magazine that I wanted to read and interviewed people that would inspire, empower and entertain readers and created a brand that captured the eyes and pockets of advertisers.
Whatever your idea, before you start, write down why you want to launch your business and always have that to refer back to. After that, the key to success is to just do it. There are lots of people with amazing ideas or dreams of launching their own business but very few make their dream a reality. Often it’s because fear is holding them back. Even if you have a job for financial security to help you pay your bills in the beginning, starting up on your own will be a very scary thing – but it’s doable. Start by putting a plan together. Breaking down your ultimate goal into small achievable steps will make the journey smoother and less daunting.
Rejection is redirection
You have to find a way to be motivated by the word ‘no’, no matter how much the odds are stacked against you. Be consistent and persistent and one day that ‘no’ will turn into a yes. Regardless of what happens stay true to your brand and what you initially set out to do. If there is a problem have a solution focused mindset.You can react or create – they both have the same letters. You choose. I see rejection as redirection towards something greater and it challenges me to figure out another way how to reach my goal and that’s what you need to do if you really want something. Be flexible and ready to adapt when things don’t happen the way you planned. Your road might just be taking a different route.
Build your tribe of cheerleaders
Our friends and family play an important role in our life in shaping the people we are. Of course you’re going to value their opinion but they don’t know everything How do your friends and family make you feel? Your circle should want to see you win, they should clap loudly when you have good news. If they don’t, get a new circle or stop discussing business with them. You want positive people around you that will be honest and give you constructive criticism not negativity. Have the kind of people around you that force you to up your levels and hold you accountable to the goals you want to achieve.
Last year I held the first ever Black Magic Awards at Hackney empire to celebrate women of colour that have paved the way in various industries. When I have an event my girls are the first to buy tickets and will travel to attend and support from wherever they are in the country. If I need help with anything all I have to do is ask. If I post something on social media they will share it. Promoting your business costs them nothing except a few seconds of their time. If I say I need to get a sponsor on board they ask how am I doing and offer suggestions on how I can make things happen in my business. Recognise who is down for you.
Your network is your net worth
Being an entrepreneur can be lonely if you’re in business by yourself or if you start out working from home. So get out there, meet people, go to lots of networking events and free seminars or become a member of a co-working space. A quick search on Eventbrite, Meet-Up, Google Campus or Facebook events will keep your diary full. Everybody has something to offer, whatever their level or background. When you’re networking don’t think about what you can get from someone, think about what you can offer them.
When you attend an event have a goal in mind. Think you’re not good at networking? Girl, you will have to learn. The more you network ,the more your confidence will grow. Here are five easy tips to get started:
- Set yourself a goal to get the contact details of at least one person at your first event. Challenge yourself to get the contact details of two people at the next one and keep building on those numbers.
- Be passionate. Show your enthusiasm for your service or idea when you talk about it. Positive energy and excitement for your brand is always contagious. People will want to know more and they will remember you.
- Always make a note of details about a person because it impresses them when you meet again and you remember the name of their dog, favourite sports team or a project they were working on.
- When working a room always join the group made up of odd numbers rather than even. It is guaranteed that there will be a person who doesn’t feel as involved in the conversation who will be happy to have a one-to-one convo with you.
- Make sure you have a Linkedin page set-up even with basic information and if possible prepare some business cards to give out with your name and contact details.
Email or message the contacts you made by the next day so that they don’t forget you and follow up soon after to meet up for a coffee where possible. Before you know it you’ll be a networking guru and over time you’re likely to cross paths with these contacts again.
Click here to read part 2 if you would like more of my personal tips.