Do you ever wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self some wonderful kernel of wisdom that you know now? How much money/ time/ heartache you could have saved… Sadly, the billionaires are using their money to jet into space rather than build time machines, so the best we can do is learn from those that have gone before us. The Found and Flourish community is full of inspiring members who’ve done amazing things in their lives and businesses, and who’ve also learned some important lessons along the way that have contributed to their success. We chatted to a bunch of these wonderful members to hear about what they wish they’d known when they started. Here, we share some of their wisdom, along with three of the most common ‘wish-we’d-knowns’ from other female founders.
Manage your money
When you start a business, it can be tempting to go all-in with hiring a virtual assistant, a social media manager and an online business manager. The reality is, if you’re at the very beginning of your business journey, you probably don’t really need all that support. The same goes for merch. It’s always fun to have stickers in your company branding, but are they really contributing to your success, or do they just look fun on your laptop? Thought so… Instead, consider investing in the most crucial parts of your business, including website, branding, and accounting. On that note, mistakes when filing your taxes can be costly, so make sure you’re managing your money in the correct way. Once you’re comfortably breaking even, go wild with the team and the branded notebooks (you can send us one too!).
Manage your time
Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in the day. If you’re just starting out, it can feel like there are trillions of things you need to do, from joining online communities to build your network (hey!), to ordering business cards (see: manage your money). Work out what really moves the needle in your business, and which tasks can be left for later. This is the perfect time to get into the habit of prioritising. Once things really take off, you’ll be glad you’re able to focus on the most pressing tasks first.
Manage your energy
Burnout is a pretty common occurrence amongst entrepreneurs. The combination of loving your work, being your own boss, and having your entire job on your smartphone means it can be hard to switch off. Implement some good self-care habits, and stick to them religiously. Entrepreneurship is a wild journey – in the best possible way – but you don’t want to find yourself on the edge of burnout six months in. Trust us – it’s not fun.
Don’t be afraid to say no
Running your own business necessitates a good dose of self-belief. When you’re just starting out, you’ll probably find yourself saying yes to a bunch of things you’re not that interested in, or that don’t pay so well. That’s totally fine at the start, and it’s often what’s required to get your business off the ground, especially if you don’t have much prior experience. Even so, make sure what you’re saying yes to feels like a good fit. “Saying no is essential for building a strong brand,” says Helen Bamborough, founder of Mumfolk. “It just takes a leap of faith that if you’re showing up for your business then the right project will come.”
Run your business your way
If you’ve held a more traditional job before, calling your own shots can take a little getting used to. “I really wish that I’d known it’s okay to run your business in whatever way you like,” says Yvie Ormsby, founder of Yoco Studio. “You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t fit with your goals or lifestyle just because other people are.”
Community is everything
Entrepreneurship is often associated with loneliness, perhaps because of the startup tales of founders working away in their parents’ garage at 2 am. Unfortunately for them, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos weren’t members of Found and Flourish, or other similar online communities for female founders. You’ll hopefully find that thanks to the power of the internet when it comes to connecting people, there are plenty of like-minded, welcoming people out there. “I wish I’d known that going it alone would be so much less lonely than I thought,” says nutritionist Charlotte Faure Green. “The friendships and community built online, and spilling into IRL, would satisfy any ‘water cooler chat’ needs. You’ve just got to put yourself out there a little, join the communities, and if you like someone’s vibe, tell them!”
Choose a mentor wisely
In a similar vein, there are plenty of more experienced people out there who’ll happily show you the ropes. The trick is finding the right person. If you’re new to the scene, you’ll likely find a whole lot of people telling you what to think / do / how the Instagram algorithm works. Author and founder of Hype Yourself, Lucy Werner, puts it succinctly: “often, people direct us down the path that is right for them, rather than what is right for us.” Stick to your gut feeling, and if possible, work with others based on personal recommendations. If you don’t know anyone in the world of small businesses yet, consider checking out a directory or having virtual coffees with people via LinkedIn.
You can’t pour from an empty cup
Let’s end with one of the most important lessons. When you run your own business, you’re responsible for your own livelihood, and if you’ve got a team, the pressure is intensified. It’s not just a question of making enough time for bubble baths and face masks – you’ve got to fill your cup with activities that boost your motivation and creativity. Go to talks or workshops, take free courses online, and meet with inspiring women. Find what works for you, and make it a regular occurrence in your calendar. This is especially important if your work is draining on your energy, like yoga teacher Charlotte Fox. “My work involves an audience, classes, and entertainment,” she explains. “I’m constantly connected and alert, so the stillness by the sea gives me time to rejuvenate.” Make sure you keep that cup filled – it’s the best way to guarantee a long and happy life as a business owner. Good luck!
If you’re looking for support on your journey, check out the Found and Flourish membership, where we run regular events to inspire, inform and educate you.
About your author
Phoebe is Found & Flourish’s resident Business blogger, she is London-born and Frankfurt-, Paris- and Amsterdam-raised. Combining her Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship with 10 years writing for international publications, she’s the founder of BURO155 and Wellby, helping female entrepreneurs achieve their business goals through strategic online content. Phoebe is also a writer, and has written for outlets including the Huffington Post, the Guardian, the Next Web, For Working Ladies and Restless Magazine.
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