Rhea Freeman: “You’re allowed to be proud of what you have achieved”

You’re allowed to be proud of what you have achieved. I know it sounds mad, but allow yourself those moments to enjoy what you’ve achieved. As business people, we’re all too quick to say ‘great, next!’ when we need to absorb the moment, bask in those happy feelings and the satisfaction of a job well […]

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You’re allowed to be proud of what you have achieved. I know it sounds mad, but allow yourself those moments to enjoy what you’ve achieved. As business people, we’re all too quick to say ‘great, next!’ when we need to absorb the moment, bask in those happy feelings and the satisfaction of a job well done. There are highs and lows all along the business journey, and celebrating the highs makes the lows a whole lot better.

Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Rhea Freeman.

Rhea Freeman is a social media expert and small business coach based in the UK. In addition to running membership groups, Rhea is also the founder of the Small & Supercharged Podcast and a Facebook group of the same name designed to help small businesses and influencers in the equestrian and rural space. She’s an award-winning PR adviser, #SheMeansBusiness accredited trainer and Facebook Certified Lead Trainer.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I didn’t take the most direct route to get to this point, let me tell you, but equally I think that all the experiences that happen to us are there for a reason! I started off working outside, with horses and became a riding instructor. This led me to write for magazines around my specialist subjects, which allowed me to write for brands, which led to traditional PR (obviously these transitions took a long time!). Over the years, social media started to provide brands with other ways to reaching their target market- and that really interested me as I have always prided myself on being able to help brands promote themselves on a budget. As social media continued to grow, there was a real shift in spending and circulation on traditional media, and so I started to improve my skills and learn all I could about social media too. Now, I coach a handful of business owners one to one to help them develop their businesses and grow with help from social media, and I also work with a greater number of small business owners through my groups.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

Simply that there was a lack of the kind of understanding that will make a difference. Social media has incredible power for good- and I believe that with every fiber of my being — but it also has a darker side that can make people wary. And because of the different platforms, the different nuances and all the features, it can be really easy to get overwhelmed. And this isn’t a great combination for someone’s who’s already doing lots in their businesses and isn’t sure if they can see the value. However, through working with my clients, I have seen that showing up, creating good content, engaging and having a strategy around what you’re doing on social media can make a huge impact to a business in so many ways. And I wanted to get more business owners to this point. Of understand, not feeling overwhelmed, and being able to utilize it to grow their business and achieve their goals.

In your opinion, were you a natural-born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

I think it’s something you’re born with. When I was young, I was always a very hard worker and when I wanted something, I would focus on it and get there. I was also quite good at thinking up ways to make money to help me buy what I wanted- I remember making ‘notelets’ one summer using ink stamps and printer paper to earn the money I wanted, and I was forever helping out at stables and looking after people’s animals.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

It was my husband. My family had always worked for people, so the idea of being self-employed and having your own business wasn’t really something I had in my world. My now husband, on the other hand, was self employed, and his parents had had their own business forever, so for him, it wasn’t so much of a leap at all. Having someone who’d done it was so useful, and having someone who could see what I was trying to achieve was massive.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think and hope it’s my desire to help ‘my tribe’, even with things that aren’t closely connected to what I do. I really do always want the people I work with excel beyond their wildest dreams- it brings me a lot of joy, true joy, because the people I work with, I invest my time in, over and above what I get paid to do. I really really care. If I have someone come to me saying that they have any problem, even one beyond my skill area, I will listen and try and find someone who’s an expert in the area that they need help in to help them overcome whatever issue they’re experiencing.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Hard work. Gosh, I can not emphasize this enough! I think people see the shiny website, or a successful podcast, or a thriving business and assume that it’s easy. It isn’t. It’s worth every moment and every bit of blood, sweat and tears, but it’s not easy. It’s hard work. And it’s relentless too. You can’t afford to rest and your laurels.

Show up and be you. No matter how you feel, show up. When I started on social media, the thought of showing up on a Live or on a video- who am I kidding, even posting a selfie- filled me with dread. I could see every single imperfection and that made me want to hide. But hiding doesn’t win you fans, followers or business. People buy from people, and yes this means getting your face out there and on board with this too. It also means trusting in who you are and not trying to be like anyone else. Your people will be drawn to you, not anyone else you’re trying to be.

Seeing trends and trusting. Things move and change all the time. What’s working now, the way things are going, etc. If you become paralysed by the idea of change, or feel like ‘we’ve always done things this way and they have worked so far’ then you’re in trouble. You have to move with the times, embrace the new, and know you’re going to give it your best shot.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

When we’re younger- say when we’re at school- fitting in is most definitely encouraged, and most definitely not being a show-off, or ‘boasting’ about what we’ve done. At school, you usually fit into one of maybe two or three groups and fitting in makes your life a whole lot easier. In business, you don’t want to do this. You want to stand out for all the right reasons. It’s not about being unkind or wild for the sake of it, but in business it’s essential to really embrace all your quirks, your strengths, what makes you special. And you have to tell people about what makes you special — what you have achieved and accomplished- because there will be a lot of people shouting loudly about things that don’t even come close to your achievements and winning fans because of it. It’s not boasting, it’s sharing. It’s very very different.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

This is tough because so many of us are always working in one form or another due to our beloved phones, aren’t we? The thing I find most useful is talking it out. Having a friend or partner to just ‘talk at’, even if your thoughts are moving around, can be huge. Often when you say things out loud they become more, I don’t know, realistic. I find in my head something can feel massive but when I speak it, it kind of loses its power. I also think that taking the next step and seeking out professional help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or burned out is essential. There are so many therapists, counselors, and other trained professionals out there with a toolbox bursting with ways to help you- it’s nothing to be ashamed of at all — and it can make the world of difference to how you feel and how you perform in every area of your life. Also, remember you’re not the only one. Because someone looking happy on the outside, doesn’t mean they aren’t also struggling with certain aspects of their life. And equally, because one person is happy, it doesn’t mean that you’re anything less than perfect because you’re feeling overwhelmed.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

Be in it for the long run. There is no substitute for putting in the graft. You can’t just show up one day and expect to be the go-to in your industry the next. It doesn’t work. You need to have gathered a good few scars, done a LOT of hours and years in the field, and gained that knowledge from every angle to be able to do this.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

Because it’s a competitive place out there and the skills above will help you win consistently for a long time. Because these ARE what’s needed to thrive. It’s not sexy, or fast, or anything else like that- it’s hard work- but those strong foundations will help you build anything you want.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Comparing themselves to others. When you see someone on chapter 20 of their business journey, do not expect your chapter 1 to be the same on any level. You have so much learning and growing to do. You’ll get there, but these things take time. If you compare yourself to anyone else, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’re not them and you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes in their world, so it’s not fair or right to compare yourself to them. It’ll hurt you, stunt your growth, and could really throw you off your path.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

I think because it’s what you have created from the ground up, it feels personal and connected to you on a much deeper level. In a regular job, you usually have a role within a company, and there’s a detachment there. If you have built the company or brand, it’s part of you. It’s like a child that you’ve been nurturing, feeding and developing. This means that when things go well, you feel all the joy of the moment because you’ve built it and everything you’ve done has led you to this sweet success. However, when things go wrong, they can feel very personal, and the lows can be crushing because they’re part of you too.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business?

We would love to hear it. A year or so ago, I worked for a federation that I had long admired from so many different angles. I did a few projects with them, loved each one, and the high of doing the work I did was next level. It meant a huge amount and still does, and it is funny to think about what the younger me would have thought or said if they’d have known what I’d have been doing.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business?

We would love to hear it. When I have had my trust broken or have felt cheated by someone I trusted. Gosh, that hurts a lot. I’m lucky that it hasn’t happened too many times, but you really do question a lot of things when someone you’ve trusted acts in a way that is unkind, unexpected, and just unpleasant. It makes you put up your guards in ways you didn’t expect too.

Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

I wouldn’t say I’d ‘bounced’ back as such — it was definitely a process — but with great friends and time, things get better.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Great friends. You don’t need many, but true friends that you can absolutely rely on are essential. Whenever I have had something really challenging happen, knowing I can pick up the phone, get on a video call, or send a message to talk it through with someone I trust has been huge. Not only can these people share in your lows, but they’re also there to cheer you on when you hit a high, and that makes it all the sweeter.

Get help. Yes, get help. Friends are amazing and they may well be all you need, but if you’re struggling, please, find a professional to help you. High-performing athletes have sports psychologists to help them get the maximum out of themselves and get into the right brain space. Consider it a tune up of your brain.

You’re allowed to be proud of what you have achieved. I know it sounds mad, but allow yourself those moments to enjoy what you’ve achieved. As business people, we’re all too quick to say ‘great, next!’ when we need to absorb the moment, bask in those happy feelings and the satisfaction of a job well done. There are highs and lows all along the business journey, and celebrating the highs makes the lows a whole lot better.

Accept that not everyone gets you. And also accept that that’s OK. Not everyone needs to. I have relatives that have NO idea what I do. It’s not even on their radar that that’s a thing. And it can be upsetting, but it’s not that they’re being negative towards you, they just don’t get it. I remember the first time I was invited to give a TEDx talk. I was SO excited. But when I mentioned it to a friend they had no idea what I was talking about, which did hurt for a while.

Reframe. This is gold. When you have a low, think ‘what is this teaching me?’. It takes a bit of practice but it works. For example, the client has canceled one hour before a call because they are too busy despite the fact you’ve rearranged your day around them. Now, you can get angry (perfectly understandable!), or you can think ‘OK, what can I learn? Should I start taking a deposit at time of booking? Review my cancellation policy? Where is the lesson?

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

That’s a good question. I think resilience is the ability to get back up again when things don’t go your way. I guess resilient people seen any stumble, fall or mishap as a fleeting situation vs. something that is a failure on their part. And this helps them to pick themselves up and go again.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

I think that there are experiences scattered all through my life that have built resilience, because each time something has happened, small or large, that has really tested me, getting back up again has made it easier the next time. Having people show negativity towards you, so being trolled on social media for example, was pretty awful the first time, but with a bit of reframing, it was still bad but I felt like I’d turned the random unpleasantness into a small piece of armor.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

I try. But I am far from perfect. If I can reframe the situation and ask myself ‘Ok, what is this teaching me?’, it’s a lot easier to deal with a challenging situation as you see it as a lesson instead of a failure.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

Yes. But I do also think it’s important to acknowledge the bad thing that has happened, as that’s real life. So, take for example a client who has had something copied. As in, a piece of theirs is copied by a competitor. It would be wrong not to say ‘this is rubbish, I really feel for you’, because those feelings are absolutely valid. However, instead of dwelling on this, I would ask what we can learn from this. Is it the process? Is it how to prevent this in the future? Is it prioritise new designs so you always stay ahead? Looking for lessons helps so much, and helps others see a more productive path than just being cross for long periods of time.

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

There are so many. I love quotes. But, ‘a strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink’ — Gina Carey, feels really apt for this chat. Again, it helps to reframe a ‘this is too hard, why me?’ to ‘come on then, let’s do this’. It’s very visual too, and I love that.

How can our readers further follow you online?

www.rheafreemanpr.co.uk, Instagram @rheafreemanpr, Twitter @rheafreeman, Facebook /rheafreemanpr

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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