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Women in Business – Surviving the First Two Years: “Do something you’re passionate about.” Interview with Colleen Jeffs

Interview with Colleen Jeffs, founder of Honest Tech Company, on her experiences being a woman entrepreneur.

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

I’ve worked in the corporate world for over 28 years. When I left I was a Senior Project Manager working in IT. 

Being a male dominant environment I had to work twice as hard as the guys. Twice as hard to climb the corporate ladder, to be heard and to stand beside my colleagues as an equal. 

As a young adult I spent a bit of time in the military where I learned mental toughness. It served me well over the years, especially in that environment!

I’ve always wanted to help others and loved the idea of running my own business. I’ve manufactured and sold children’s shoes, run a mobile juice bar, drop shipped, run an Amazon FBA store and been a relationship coach.  Throughout those experiences I learned different skills.  Ones that I would use to go on to help others.  

It’s been a long term goal to help other women work from home too.  Today I run a business with my partner Paul called the Honest Tech Company.  I am a Funnel Strategist & Business Mentor and help Coaches & Consultants scale and grow their businesses online. 

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

I would have to say mindset. I didn’t realise how resilient I had to be to survive in the online space. 

There are so many things to do when first starting a business, and you will wear many hats. Juggling tasks and chasing the next cash injection was my new normal. 

There have been times when things were going well and everything was easy. There have also been times when a launch I thought would do well completely flopped. That’s tough. I’ve had several moments where I’ve gone back to bed to cry about how hard things were. 

But every time I come back to the one question that keeps me going. 

“What is the alternative?” What is the alternative if this doesn’t work?

I never want to go back to the ego-driven environment of IT. 

Robert Kiyosaki says “9 out of 10 businesses fail”. He’s right … all the experience I gained from those lessons helped me create the successful business we have today. 

If it weren’t for the military training, thick skin I developed working in IT and the one question I keep coming back to – “what is the alternative?” I don’t know if I would have made it.

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

I’d always wanted to work for myself. I have always been too ambitious to take orders from someone else. Also, I didn’t want someone else telling me how much I could earn. I wanted an up-capped ceiling, so I created it for myself.

The first business book I ever read in my early 20s was Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. From that moment I was hooked and that started my journey. 

After lots of stops and starts here I am.

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

1. Get clear on your mission. Who do you help and how will you help them? Figuring out who you want to work with will make it a lot easier to get customers. Your marketing needs to tell the right people your offer is for them. Failure to do this will result in little or no customers. Get that clear in your mind first before doing anything else.

2. Do something you’re passionate about. I’ve always wanted to help other people work from home. This driving force spurs me on when things get tough (and they will). When you earn enough money it becomes more about your passion. So choose something that has meaning and purpose for you to see you through the tough times. 

3. Get some help early. Save yourself the headache of trying to piece it all together on your own. Yes you will find free content online.  Nothing compares to concrete steps and feedback from someone who has walked the path before you. Find a mentor you resonate with and invest in yourself. The skills you acquire will serve you well for any business you run now and into the future. 

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

Learn – be a sponge and educate yourself. Those who have walked the path before you would have already made a lot of mistakes. Learning from them will save you a lot of headaches in the future. 

Follow people in the industry who are in a similar niche. Look at what is working for them and model them. 

You will find people you resonate with more than others and that’s ok. Take what you like and leave what you don’t. The person you are today will change over time. Be open to feedback and evolve and grow.

Get out of your comfort zone. You may not be good at sales, but you’ll need to learn how to sell. Even if you have the funds to hire someone to manage your sales you should still learn how to do it. It will help you understand your customers more and become a better marketer. Marketing is a skill that every entrepreneur should know how to do.

Invest in a good mentor and fast track your way to success. You can’t possibly know everything. People share information on line but nothing is as good as paid content. Find someone you resonate with and sign up for their mentoring program. 

When I look to work with people – I look for the 3 C’s.

Credibility – are they someone who already has the experience to take you where you want to go? 

Committed – are they committed to your success? Speak to others who have worked with them. What was their experience like? If your mentor is too busy they won’t have time for you. Make sure you’re going to get exactly what you need to drive your business forward.

Character – are they a good person? Do they act with integrity? You can join their Facebook group and follow them on social media to see how they engage with others. If they’re supportive and kind it will come through. 

Be prepared for hard times. I’ve gone from hundreds of thousands in the bank to living in my mother’s garage and then being a homeowner, living in a beautiful town when I can pick and choose the days when I go skiing.  

Stay the course, show up everyday and be consistent. When you grow a following of people they need to see you often. This builds credibility and when they “know, like and trust” you, it makes selling a lot easier. Be true to yourself and your customers and the right people will find you. 

Help others along the way. You never know where your next customer will come from. Partner with complimentary brands. Building a network of like-minded people will help to grow your business and reputation. 

Zig Ziglar said “you can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want” – I couldn’t agree more. 

Enjoy the journey – serve others and the profits will follow.

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