Women in Business – Surviving the First Two Years: “Do something uncomfortable or scary every day.” Interview with Melissa Jones

Interview with Melissa Jones, founder of Girls Positivity Club, on her experiences being a woman entrepreneur.

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Please tell us a bit about yourself, and describe your company.

I am Melissa Jones, the founder of Girls Positivity Club, a passionate teacher who used her expertise and experiences in the classroom to create a global movement to empower adolescent girls. Girls Positivity Club is an organization with a mission to advance every girl’s confidence, self-awareness, and power. At Girls Positivity Club, we believe every girl deserves a space to shine and a platform to spark their influence. As global leaders, we are women who are mentors and connectors. We believe in elevating girls by providing a trusted network of inspiring relationships and activities that encourage dreams and self-awareness. Girls Positivity Club enables girls to live their best lives by empowering them with positivity, confidence, and influence.

What has been the most challenging thing you have faced in the first two years of operating your business? How did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced in the first two years of operating my business is balancing a full-time career in teaching and starting a global movement from the ground up.  My biggest issue has been time.  I had to quickly learn how to utilize my time and prioritize goals.  To do this, I have pockets of time that I designate only for business tasks.  In the beginning, I how to prioritize the most essential ‘needle moving’ actions first.  My most impactful tasks were figuring out how to add value to the families, creating engaging activities, reaching out to people who could help me speak and work with groups of girls, watching course videos  I needed to learn in business, working on my messaging, and how to make clear what I do, and so on.  

While also balancing a full-time career, it would have been effortless for me to say I didn’t have time.  I had to get creative and be more helpful with my time and also learn the hard way how to protect it for different parts of my life.  My typical day starts at 5 am where I journal gratitude and use my planner to set three tasks that will be needle-moving for my business that I can accomplish in one day.  Productivity is crucial for me as I teach 5th-grade full time on top of running my small business.  I came up with the idea of using “pockets of time,” and it works well for me.  My first pocket of time is from 5:00-6:30 am that I break down into three 30-minute increments.  I write pitches for media, take courses on business and marketing, and create content for my girls.  My morning routine is crucial for my success.  

After my contract time at school ends, I stay an hour longer to continue any tasks I did not complete in my morning pocket of time (broken up into two 30 minutes). Another time I sneak in productive time is during my 30-minute commute.  I listen to business and personal growth podcasts or listen to audio from courses I’m taking.  I do the same on my way home from school, which allows me another half an hour to commit to growing my business. When I get home, I put on my wife and mom hat, and try to put business aside and stay present with my family.  This process is how I get up to 3.5 hours of work in a day, which helps me make steady progress toward my ultimate goal of working full time.  On the weekends, I use the mornings to my advantage before my family is awake to work on more significant tasks or to wrap up anything I wasn’t able to accomplish during the week.  My ‘why’ is very clear, and being around kids all day, it keeps my motivation up.

What are some of the biggest digital marketing challenges you have faced to date? How have you overcome them?

Creating digitally engaging content that adds value for a dual audience and converting them into clients has been one of my biggest challenges.  I think it was challenging to know who I’m talking to on social media versus in-person.  For example, if I have a group of 5th-grade girls in a club session, engaging content or activity is different from creating something that will appeal to their moms on social media.  So I am constantly having to think about who I’m “talking to” in each space.  On Instagram, I’m talking to both because my audience is a combination of moms and daughters.  On Facebook, my audience is the parents or grandparents of girls.  Sometimes what I have thought would connect with my parent audience has missed the mark and the only way I have found out what they want is by asking questions to moms I know personally.  

When I’m in front of the girls, I ask them what they struggle with or what motivates them, or what they want to learn more about – sometimes the answers surprise me, but drives my content to make it relevant to the girls.  So I believe I should always be fine-tuning my content, and I think we have to be responsive to what the audience wants and needs.  When your audience is small in the beginning, you have to push fear aside and ask for the feedback and create more of what your audience wants, and then they are more likely to trust you are true to what you are delivering and more likely to become clients or purchase your services or products.  

Please tell us what led you to the path of entrepreneurship. 

I was led to entrepreneurship because I struggled with my own confidence as a girl and young woman.  It wasn’t until my late 30’ that I truly learned how to shift my life.  My struggles that led to a transformation in personal growth led me to become an entrepreneur wanting to create an organization that would make a social impact within and beyond my local community. I kept getting these nudges when my dad was going through cancer treatment, and I had gone through a 2-year transformation in weight loss, and as a side effect of being in an online group with a mentor who focused on personal mental and physical change, I saw my growth in confidence, self-esteem, and positive habits.  It opened up an idea- to teach what had helped me, to the girls in my 4th-grade classroom gain positive strategies and tools for building their confidence.  I started thinking, why did I not know how to do these powerful strategies as a child?  It would have been a game-changer for my younger self.  

This realization opened up a reflection for me that was coming to fruition, that girls in every school setting I had taught had a common thread of need – the practical and accessible tools for managing everyday life as a girl. These all fell into categories under common problems girls face relating to knowing how to feel good about themselves, having confidence, and connecting with other girls in empowering environments around a common goal.  

What are the three most important things every woman entrepreneur should do when first thinking about starting a business?

Find yourself and your “why”.  You have to figure out who you are, and that inner work is crucial for getting clear on how you will show up for yourself and your business every day. You also have to do the inner work to determine why you do what you do.  Why do you want to create this business? Who do you want to impact and why?  Getting clear on yourself and this “why” has to be strong enough to keep you going on the days when it feels hard, and you want to give up. 

Have balance.  You have to agree with yourself that it is crucial to have a life outside of business. Especially in the beginning of the business when you dial in who you are and your “why”, you will become obsessed with making it happen. Boundaries and balance are critical. Schedule family time, hobbies, and self-care for yourself every day.  By intentionally having balance, you have more rejuvenation toward your business. You feel a sense of inner peace rather than going so hard on business that you sacrifice your mental health, and essential relationships in your life.

Find your unique attributes. Find 3-5 things that excite you and embody your brand and make it unique to you. Ask yourself what the iconic thing is that your brand is going to be known by. Is it a color, a symbol, anything that sets you apart as being memorable?  One of the iconic things for my brand is an elephant because the animal represents female leaders who are strong and gentle and inclusive, which is what Girls Positivity Club’s mission is all about.  

Are there actionable steps a woman in business should take to ensure that her company is successful in two years?

These are three actionable steps I think a woman in business should take to ensure success in two years:  

Tighten your circle. Your dreams are not safe with everyone.  Get clear on the places where you talk about business and the times when you are only coming from a perspective and persona as a friend and family.  That doesn’t mean that your family and friends don’t know about your business, but it eliminates the confusion of having too many opinions or getting unnecessary fears that friends and family unintentionally plant in your head in the beginning when you are figuring out everything.  It’s super tempting because you are so passionate, but don’t overshare.  Tighten your circle when you talk about business. Hire a business coach from who you seek advice or save it for a mastermind of entrepreneurs.  Surround yourself with like-minded people who will help you grow in business and save room for times when you are just showing up as your friend or family role.  

Feedback is your friend.  Any criticism from anyone involved with your business in the early stages, especially you need to see as free market research. Anticipate it and look forward to it as a glimpse into getting closer to giving the value that will help your audience most.  Use it to your advantage to creating accessible content and building trust to build your credibility and serving clients.  Seek criticism and use it to improve.  Don’t be surprised if, at first you feel hurt or discouraged. What you have to train yourself to do is to see it as a positive and try not to take it personally. It’s a benefit your audience gives you by telling you what they want and what is or isn’t working. Be grateful for it.  

Do something uncomfortable or scary every day. This is something that has been a game-changer for me.  You have to force yourself to ask for help, send an email, schedule a call, post something on social, and ask a question in a Zoom mastermind.  It can literally be anything that makes you the slightest bit uncomfortable.  But, when I do this each day, if it works out (and most of the time it does) or even if it doesn’t, you are further ahead than staying in your head with the wondering or the doubt of whether you should do the thing.  Regardless, you will grow and learn in some way, and doing this, in the beginning, builds your confidence in going for bigger things as your business grows.  

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