Automations/Outsourcing. Oh yes please! Anything you can automate in your business means less work for you which means more time to concentrate on the areas of your business you love the most! When I automated my booking process and my customer management it made life so much easier! Linked to this is outsourcing! As soon as I could, I outsourced some of my admin work and my bookkeeping. I don’t enjoy these tasks and it was causing me a lot of stress having to take time to focus on them. Once I outsourced it gave me more time to work on the areas of my business that I love therefore increasing my highs!
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 Hannah Roper.
Hannah Roper is the Founder and Director of The Female Creative. Hannah teaches and coaches busy mums to take their business ideas and turn them into action to increase their audience and income focusing on building a plan and setting achievable goals that fit with hectic mum life. Hannah has been there, done that and worn the t-shirt so who better placed to guide you through the complexities of growing a business.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/a128219b0340d7d310f0b24b7aa995ac
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
My Aha moment came in early 2020 just as the world had been plunged into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I had been placed on furlough from my corporate job, I could no longer perform as my Country Music alter ego Lily Garland and my 3 day Country Music Festival had been postponed! I felt a little bit lost! Not being one to stand still I started to look around and see what I could do with my time. I had recently joined an online community where I was meeting lots of mums who had accidentally fallen into a business, usually by creating a product they were searching for themselves! With the global pandemic, a lot of these women were on furlough, had been made redundant or were realizing that the corporate world was not for them. Others were seeing an opportunity to do something for themselves away from the family which was providing fulfillment and leaving them feeling empowered. They were turning their hobbies into side hustles! However, I found that due to the nature of how they started their businesses, they were lacking in business knowledge and confidence to really get things off the ground.
I started to advise these women on how to use social media to market their businesses, help with setting up their websites and designing logos, it then grew from there!
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
To me identifying as an entrepreneur meant I was calling myself a businesswoman and I didn’t feel I could do that. I didn’t have any formal business qualifications and I didn’t have any business titles. This held me back initially from attracting the right customers and pricing myself accurately. A bit of imposter syndrome crept in for sure!
But, what I was forgetting were the years and years of experience I had, of learning ‘business skills’ without being a businesswoman.
I had spent over 20 years in teaching. To be a teacher I was an expert at learning new topics, linking the information to contextual consolidation and sharing that, to give others knowledge and skills that they could implement. I could teach anyone anything!
I also had spent many years managing and marketing my songwriting career, plus I had spent 2 years in network marketing. I had learned so many skills on the job. How to brand myself, how to attract the right people to my product, how to seek out PR opportunities, how to sell my music, how to appear on video, on radio and how to successfully plan, organize and manage events. So now I proudly call myself an entrepreneur and encourage the wonderful women I work with to do the same!
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?
I think many women have inspired me to start my own business over the years. Jen Sanchez from The Liberty Lounge unleashed creativity I didn’t know I had and confidence to put myself outside of my comfort zone. Amy Normanton, my business coach, inspired me to keep going, to know my worth and what I bring to the table. But I count myself so lucky to have a business in an age where so many incredible women are paving the way and sharing their journeys on social media to keep me inspired and motivated.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The Female Creative is relatable to busy mums at the early phase of their business journey usually in the first 5 years of having a business. As mums, we see so many promises of 6 figure incomes in 6 months out there, which is incredible, but seems so out of reach when you are juggling children, home and often a job. Time to focus on a business is limited and can be inconsistent without the right support. We would love to go all-in with our business but for so many mums this just isn’t a reality. I have been there, I have made the mistakes so you don’t have to! I work full time in a corporate job, I am a mum and a step mum and let’s be honest home wouldn’t run without my project management of everyone and everything! So I know how to help mums find that balance, figure out what works and what doesn’t, all whilst keeping their sanity and moving the business forward!
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?
Determination is so important in business success. As a mum and corporate worker, I was told so many times that I couldn’t possibly make a service-based business work. I was too busy, there was no need, it was a stupid idea. Even my friends and family didn’t understand why I wanted this so badly as it just wasn’t relatable to them. So keeping focused required determination to succeed.
Patience is needed when starting a business. Overnight success is not a reality, it takes time and effort to make a business work. There is a lot to learn and there are only so many hours in a day. I learned this the hard way by moving forward at 100mph and then wondering why I felt overwhelmed and exhausted!! I was trying to do so many tasks at the same time nothing ever felt completed! Patience is moving forward one step at a time knowing you are on the right path.
Passion links with determination in a way, remembering why you set up your business is so important. It is my grounding when I start to feel overwhelmed or if I come up against any negativity. I know the joy I get from helping women achieve their business dreams when I know I have had a part to play in them achieving their goals and it is this feeling that gets me through the tougher times!
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?
This is a really hard question! I think the piece of advice I wish I had never followed was that to be successful I had to give up everything else. The idea that there can’t be a balance is not something that sits right with me as a mum. It may mean my progress is slower but I believe my business will be more sustainable as I will have the right balance between work and home.
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?
Planning! That is always my number one tip. Burnout is no longer the way to run a business as it creates inconsistency. By having a yearly, quarterly, monthly and even weekly plan, business owners and teams can prioritize tasks and activities around commitments and working hours. Also, open lines of communication are essential to running a successful business. Team members need to be invested and passionate about what you are collectively aiming to achieve and to feel this they need to know and be involved in the decision-making process.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Be you and be real, share the good and the bad. Be transparent in what you do and how you help your customers. Sharing your journey really helps to build relationships with customers and clients as that is what people need from brands to make that connection and invest their time and money.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Consumers can spot inauthenticity a mile away! Gone are the days of perfection, consumers want to connect with brands and feel part of a community, they want to know the face behind the brand and more importantly the story that goes with that face.
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?
Not knowing who they are really speaking to. So many business and marketing coaches talk about knowing your ideal client and there is a very good reason. The online market is saturated, especially now, with many brick and mortar businesses having to move online too so it is vital to make those emotional connections with customers. You can only do that if you know who those people are and what their problems and goals are.
The other mistake I see is focusing all marketing efforts on social media. There is no denying social media is an incredible set of platforms that are predominantly cost-free however there are so many other ways to reach your audience that need to be included in your strategy. I have seen so many people lose Instagram and Facebook accounts suddenly and have to start again from scratch. Spread out your marketing eggs in many baskets!
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”?
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.
When I first started charging for my services I hit a real high! I was fully booked and for a new business, this was incredible! As a service-based online business, I had minimal setup costs so made back my initial investment in weeks. I really was riding a complete high and it gave me a lot of confidence. My first clients were recommending me to their friends and colleagues and seemed to have an endless supply of clients to work with. It had been a real leap of faith to start my coaching business and it felt amazing to have had that immediate success. This was not like the high I had ever had in my corporate job. This was all about me and my efforts and the value I was bringing to people.
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.
Leading on from my high came a very low. I invested in a business coach and one of the first things we did was look at my services and income. Together we worked out my hourly rate, well that was a massive blow! Yes, I had sold out my services, hit capacity early on and brought in thousands of pounds in the first few months but the effort and time I had put into delivering those services meant I was earning way below minimum wage! All the confidence and excitement I had felt came tumbling down. What was I going to do, I was new and I couldn’t put up my prices as people wouldn’t pay that (or so I thought!). After having such a high it made the low feel even lower that’s for sure. It unearthed all the limiting beliefs I had tried to ignore and it really knocked my confidence. At this point in time, my husband wasn’t very supportive of my new venture either. He couldn’t understand why I would be putting in so much effort for something I didn’t need and wasn’t going to earn as much as my full-time income. It left me really doubting myself and my abilities and why I had even started this business.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
I continued to invest in a business coach to guide and teach me but also to have as a cheerleader. I worked heavily on my mindset, I reframed my limiting beliefs and started to really work on believing in myself and my business. I developed strategies to push back against negativity and I ensured I was surrounded with women who were going to build me up and not bring me down.
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.
- A supportive community. Being a solo entrepreneur can be very lonely. When I started my business my husband just didn’t get it. In fact, he was very anti the whole thing. I had a full-time job (although at this point I had been put on furlough) and I had the kids and him, why did I need anything else. As someone who has only ever been an employee, he struggled to see the benefits or the bigger picture. I found this really tough, I wanted his support (and what I realize now is that I was seeking his validation too, I’ll come back to that!) but he was struggling to give it. Due to the pandemic restrictions, I had become a member of an online community of women, and looking back this was my saving grace. I could talk openly about my business with other small business owners and feel connected and understood plus it helped to build my confidence to know that I was doing the right thing by having my own business. So whatever your business, find your community. They don’t have to be in the same industry or even at the same stage as you but by having like-minded people who will champion your dreams you are more likely to achieve success in your business and maintain the right mindset.
- A mentor. Now Ideally I would say hire a business coach. Someone you relate to and who is ahead of you in the business world but I know not everyone can afford it (although as soon as you can do it, it changed my whole approach to business!). Find someone who is a little more experienced than you in a similar industry and ask them to be your mentor. A mentor is a buddy, someone to bounce ideas off and to be in your corner. It’s the next step from your community of cheerleaders, it’s more about advice and learning from their experience.
- Automations/Outsourcing. Oh yes please! Anything you can automate in your business means less work for you which means more time to concentrate on the areas of your business you love the most! When I automated my booking process and my customer management it made life so much easier! Linked to this is outsourcing! As soon as I could, I outsourced some of my admin work and my bookkeeping. I don’t enjoy these tasks and it was causing me a lot of stress having to take time to focus on them. Once I outsourced it gave me more time to work on the areas of my business that I love therefore increasing my highs!
- Mindset Strategies. This has been a huge learning curve for me. Having a mindset and mindfulness strategies has been vital to maintain my confidence and keep my business growing. One of the strategies I implemented was knowing the only person who I needed validation from was myself. As soon as I realized this, it was like the whole world opened up to me. Another strategy I have is involving social media. I have a tendency to suffer from comparison and imposter syndrome, I think most of us do, so I have to be very strict with who I follow on social media so I don’t trigger myself and take myself down the rabbit hole of negative self-talk!
- Self-care strategies. What I really mean by this is, have some boundaries! When you have your own business and you love what you do it can be tempting to work all hours but this is not sustainable or healthy so find your own boundaries for self-care. This might be setting work ‘hours’, setting boundaries for answering messages or using social media, setting time aside to go for a walk each day, only working weekdays. Whatever it is, make sure it works for you and gives you a break from work time.
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?
Resilience is a funny one for me. During the global pandemic, I felt that I wasn’t very resilient, I couldn’t see my family, all of my face to face social networking had been stopped, I couldn’t leave the house other than to do the food shop or go for one walk a day and I struggled, I didn’t feel very positive and there were times I felt like it couldn’t get any worse.
I started to feel very triggered by what was going on in the world and it took me back to a place where I had been at my emotional lowest. I started to really doubt my resilience which knocked my confidence hugely.
With the help of a counselor I started to work through this and really start to think about what resilience means to me.
To me resilience is not just about being positive or being able to cope with everything life throws at you, I’m not sure that is humanly possible. Resilience is being able to pick yourself back up when you have fallen. Resilience is finding a solution but also giving yourself time to understand and reflect on how something has made you feel and work out a way to get through it.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
For me, it was seeing my parents do things that were not overly ‘normal’. For example, both my parents obtained degrees as adults, they dedicate time and energy to better their qualifications to develop and grow. It was inspiring that even with a young family and jobs they still put importance on themselves. My mother started her own business after being made redundant from her job as she wanted to do more with her working life and my father changed careers in his 40s because he knew he had more to give. Seeing these actions modeled resilience to me and showed me that there is always a way to do something more or something better.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
I do feel I am generally a positive person and very much a solution seeker. I believe there are always options, they may not be the most desired options but there are always options to choose from. However, I am also human and the stresses and strains of life affect me which can then have an impact on my reactions to difficult situations. But being able to pick myself back up again is something I pride myself in doing. I have carefully chosen my support network to help me in difficult situations by being able to talk freely and make sense of the situation. I also have a variety of mindset strategies I have developed over the years to help me.
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.
Being a leader is a privileged position. You are trusted and respected and that can not be taken lightly. A leader with a positive attitude can be hugely influential to those around them. For me, it links to having a positive energy, not positive in terms of always being happy but positive in terms of being optimistic and helpful. Energy is infectious, something highlighted by Jon Gordon’s The Energy Bus, a book I often go back to. By projecting positive energy you are helping and supporting the people around you, you are role modeling successful behaviors to support their business growth. I have a group coaching membership, these women have invested money in my leadership and I have a responsibility to treat that with respect and give them my best. This also means creating a safe space for my group to be themselves, to celebrate the wins but also the losses and stresses of running a business. But I then have to be the one to help them through the rough times, not with fake positivity but with a way out of that feeling, a pathway to move forward.
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?
Gosh, that’s a tough question! I would have to choose this one by Jon Gordon
“You haven’t failed until you stop trying.” ― Jon Gordon, The Energy Bus
This quote just sums it up for me, I hear lots of quotes about failing to be part of the journey in business, you can’t be successful until you have experienced failure but to me, failure really is only the moment you give up. That is not the same as changing your dream or the direction you are moving in, it is just stopping because it is too hard. This really resonates with me as I have tried many things in my business life and not all have worked out, but I didn’t quit because it was too difficult, I changed direction as a new door opened that was more suited to what I wanted to achieve. That is not a failure as I never stopped trying I just grew and developed and it brought me to where I am today!
How can our readers further follow you online?
Check out my website www.thefemalecreative.co.uk It has links to my social media and my podcast!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!