Wisdom//

4 Female Entrepreneur’s Advice on Making the Most of a Fresh Start

Next time, if anything, what would you do differently?

Julie Parker, Nicole Walsh, Amy MacKenzie, Jade McKenzie

It takes courage and a generous dollop of self-belief to strap yourself into the entrepreneurial rollercoaster for the first time; and no matter how planned or experienced or researched you are there isn’t anything that can fully prepare you for launching and building your own business, except actually doing it.

So given the chance to do it again — to launch another brand, pivot in a new direction, come back from a career break — how would you approach it second time round? What do you know now that you wish you knew the first time?

Julie Parker, Founder and CEO of the Beautiful You Coaching Academy, is one of Australia’s most experienced and in demand life and business coaches. In establishing and building Beautiful You she not only created an international training academy, but also an international community.

When it came time to launch her own personal brand, the experience she had gained through her exisiting business gave her a crystal clear guide as to how she would approach this second launch.

“It is important in business to really pay attention to things that work well for you — and things that don’t,” said Parker.

“When it came time to branch out from the Beautiful You Coaching Academy with my personal brand, I focused on what I knew was really powerful with brand establishment including authentic marketing, passionate and engaged writing and social media and truly believing in your message.

My personal brand has ended up very much feeling like an extension of what I do in my larger scale business which makes both of them to me equally important, valued and enjoyable.

When I first launched myself into the world of entrepreneurialism I was smacked with overwhelm; there was so much that ‘needed’ to be done I just threw myself straight into it all, head-first off the deep end.

I think I was worried that if I took the time to step back and look at the whole picture fear might take the drivers seat and make a speedy U-turn back towards the safety of a 9 to 5 and a regular paycheque. So instead, I put my head down and got my hustle on, doing whatever came up, as it became the most urgent thing on the never ending list.

I was caught up in trying to do everything to reach my big picture vision without having specifically articulated what that vision was (beyond the feelings and vague concepts I had floating around in my head) or developing a really clear roadmap for how I was going to get there. I was instantly swept away in all the ‘doing’ and so didn’t feel like I had the bandwidth to take a breath, let alone clarify my brand values, vision and strategy.

The result? Time and energy invested in things that really weren’t progressing me towards my vision. Saying “yes” to opportunities that really should have been a “no, thank you”. A few fails. A few f-bombs. Lots of learnings.

I grew my business, kicked goals, had big wins; but it’s like I was trying to navigate my way through unknown terrain without Google Maps. I knew, roughly, where I wanted to go, but hadn’t taken the time to plan out a route to get me there, meaning more than a few wrong turns and detours along the way. (Ironically, this is one of the primary traps I help clients avoid — I was a total cliche of not practicing what I preach.)

There’s a lot of talk in the entrepreneurial world about ‘failing fast’, and yes, that’s all very well and good, but simply recognising that something isn’t going to plan and quickly changing course isn’t necessarily going to rectify the situation.

Fail fast, yes, but then invest the time in a thorough post mortem to work out why it failed and gain as many insights and learnings from the experience as possible.

“When I was setting up my first business I really didn’t have any idea about anything! There was a lot of trial and error and I made lots of mistakes,” said Nicole Walsh, co-founder of InYoga and co-founder and former owner of BodyMindLife Yoga.

“When I started (my second business) InYoga, I had not only 14 years of teaching yoga under my belt, but also 12 years of the day-to-day running of the studio and staff management.

Apart from feeling more confident within myself, I had a very clear vision and purpose with this business, and I was able to articulate that in a way that all of my staff could relate to. It created the foundation for a wonderful team that felt very connected to a greater vision,” Walsh said.

When I had my first baby about 9 months ago I put my business on hold. As a solopreneur coach and consultant there wasn’t a business without me, so everything was parked throughout my maternity leave.

BB (before baby) I had a very naive notion that by the time she was around three months old I’d be ready and raring to get back into it. I’d work when she napped, and because babies need so much sleep that would give me oodles of time to write, plan and be super-mama productive. (Unsurprisingly there seem to be a whole bunch of parallels between that first business and the first baby.)

Unfortunately I didn’t have one of those magical, mythical babies who sleep, so by the time three months came around I don’t think I could remember my own phone number, much less consider getting back to running a business.

It wasn’t until around the five to six month mark, with a more reasonable amount of sleep, that I started to get that fire back in my belly and the feeling that I was ready to go again. But after a six-month hiatus, ‘going back to work’ really meant starting again — not from scratch, sure, but certainly with a pretty clean slate and a very different perspective and approach to how my business needs to fit within my life now (rather than the other way around).

It wasn’t until this opportunity for a fresh start presented itself that I took the time to reflect on my experience the first time round and consider what I had learnt and what I would change.

“The biggest difference the second time around was going for progress over perfection,” said Amy MacKenzie, founder of Designing Her Life and Co-Founder of Solopreneur Society.

The experience gained through building her business, Designing Her Life, armed MacKenzie with a different philosophy for the launch of Solopreneur Society, a community for female entrepreneurs. “This time I knew that it is an always evolving process and not to get too caught up in the perfection game, but rather just get her out into the world.

There is always more that can be done and no doubt, as ambitious women we will want to do more, however there is a real beauty in just getting it done,” said MacKenzie.

At first, as I started getting back into my business that initial sense of overwhelm tried to raise it’s head again. But having been there, tasted that cheesecake, I knew I needed to follow my own advice and start from the start.

Now I have an articulated vision, a mission and a clearly defined ‘Why’ that guides everything I do. I took the time to lay the foundations of my business, to give myself a North Star to follow, and already everything is different.

But this time I’m also determined not to wait for another clean slate before I start to reflect and implement everything I’m learning.

Jade McKenzie, international award winning event professional and coach, founded events consulting and coaching business Event Head, and has since launched numerous other offerings and products such as EH Magazine and EHTV based on what she has learnt about her market as her business has grown.

“Building my business around events gave me an incredible short cut into knowing exactly what people wanted,” said McKenzie.

“Having face to face access with those I wanted to serve and opening myself up to honest conversations with them, no matter how short, allowed me to see where the gaps were in the market and then create offerings to fill them.”

McKenzie went on to say that this exposure to her ideal clients validated her ideas for complementary offerings, “And even did the marketing for me just from being able to speak to people directly about what I do. It really propelled my business to where I wanted it to be — and quickly!”

Starting afresh with the benefit of hindsight is an amazing opportunity; and this time I’m certainly going to ensure I’m using the full 20:20.

Originally published at medium.com

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