In the lead up to IWD, I thought I’d share some key learnings from fellow female founders who have shared their founding experiences in our #HowSheDidIt series. We asked founders to share their top tips for budding entrepreneurs and this is what they said….

Marieke Syed, Founder of Snackzilla

“Talk to loads of people with a similar business before you start and try to calculate all the numbers in as much detail as possible, base your forecast on evidence rather than guessing. This is something I wish I had done a bit more of. I only truly discovered the full costs involved once I was quite far down the line.”

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Rebecca Marley, Founder of Fempowerment Box

“Take the steps today (or tomorrow)! Even if it’s just spending the time to formulate a plan or get your ideas down on paper, make the start and when you are ready JUMP. Just do it, please. I can promise you that if you feel so passionately about your idea you will spend your whole life thinking about it so you need to do yourself justice and at least explore every single one.

Once you are pretty certain it might work then try. There are so many resources, funding, support options set-up to help you regardless of your current lifestyle. Take it one step at a time and see how far you get. And if you ever just need a push or a hand-hold, drop me a message.”

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Stephanie Melodia, Founder & Director of Bloom Ltd

“Don’t procrastinate! Just do it.”

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Amy & Emma, Co-founders of Quick Fox Labs

“Do it. Don’t let your fear rule your life.

That might sound a bit too ‘motivational coach’ so in more practical terms: 

  • We’d advise people to save some money or get some funding. Remember you can’t always choose the perfect moment to launch a business so being prepared is important – it can take a few months before you can start paying yourself.
  • Test your idea on your peer group and connections and ask for advice – there is no shame and a lot of power in asking for help so do it. You’ll be surprised at the different ways some of your friends can help you (we’ve definitely learnt new things about people we’ve known for years!)
  • Be prepared to pivot and quickly. Accept that the plan you launch with probably won’t be the plan and package you stick with. 
  • Finally, build your community of fellow founders and freelancers and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.”

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Gemma & Kelly, Co-founders of Songbird Sessions

“Manage your expectations. Consistency is the key to driving your business forward. Acknowledge the power of connecting with other like-minded business entrepreneurs and showcase your services wherever possible to your ideal clients.  Learn as much as you can and focus on the jobs you don’t like doing. One day you can outsource those jobs you roll your eyes at but at least by that point you will understand how important they are in the grand scheme of things.”

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Sarah Welsh, Co-founder of HANX

“Do your research, be passionate about what you’re building, surround yourself with supportive people and take the plunge!”

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Selma Nicholls, Founder of Looks Like Me

“If you are launching a business that has never been done before – create time and space for your business to blossom. Patience and gratitude are instrumental in the process. Lastly, Authenticity.”

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Dida Ritchie, Founder of Espadrille brand Dida Ritchie

“Just do it! I don’t really believe in failure as I think you are constantly learning and that even if your business ‘fails’ the skills that you would have learnt along the way are invaluable therefore you have succeeded in other ways.

Having said that I would try and set yourself up as best you can and I would highly recommend doing a business plan and cash flow forecast and getting someone to look through it and challenge you on it as you are bound to have some gaps in areas.

If you don’t try, you won’t know….”

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Emilie Bellet, Founder of Vestpod and author of ”You’re not broke, you’re pre-rich”

“Regarding your personal finances: building a startup is an amazing project and you want to give it all you have, but remember that there is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of projects fail (I failed with my first startup) so don’t forget to take care of yourself, even financially. Don’t invest all your savings into your project, keep some emergency savings always, try to pay yourself as soon as you can and don’t forget about these long term savings (because the earlier you start the better and it compounds over time).  Entrepreneurship for me is all about passion and resilience, there are so many moments where you want to just stop everything. I heard someone once said: you need to be equally scared and excited by what you do. I think it’s a good summary. It’s like in investing if you don’t take risks, you don’t get rewards. It’s hard but it’s worth it, I am enjoying the journey: ups and downs!”

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Sara Vickery-Bragg, founder of Seventeen Minutes

“Just go for it. And even on the hard days, keep going.”

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Annabel Thomas, founder of Ncn’ean

“Don’t trust the ‘outside’ version of what it looks like. Find someone who you trust and who trusts you and ask them what it is really like. I know it sounds obvious, but I think this kind of mysticism has grown up around starting your own business and it doesn’t all smell of roses. There are massive benefits, but also huge downsides and stresses, that are not always obvious from the outside, and social media does a great job of making it all look wonderful.”

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Franchesca Vella, Co-founder of U-furniture

“Stay in your own lane. Forget about what other people are doing or saying, if you know what your goal is and what you want to achieve then go for it and also, JUST DO IT. Ignore that little voice in your head putting you down, delaying your ideas because you ‘think’ they’re not good enough or not perfect enough. You’ll be more proud of yourself for putting your idea out there to the world than avoiding it and never doing it. There’s always time to test, tweak and experiment and that’s all part of this wonderful world of start-up business!”

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Baz Moffat, health and fitness coach

“Be realistic about your time frames and find the money to get your branding, website and pictures professionally done.  Don’t rely on friends and family to do you a favour.

And make sure that you do prioritise your own health and wellbeing as for you to show up at work with the passion and enthusiasm to build any business you need to invest in you, consistently, week in week out.”

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Zoe Desmond founder of Frolo app for single parents

“The first thing is to check that you have the right level of passion and determination for your business idea because you are probably going to need it to keep going! 

Be really clear on your vision and why you are doing what you are doing. 

Call on support and guidance wherever you can and learn from other businesses successes and mistakes.

Tap into your target market and community and learn from them and let them help you shape your business. 

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Hannah Hardy-Jones, founder of  The Kite Program

“Validate your idea. Talk to as many people as possible about your idea and make sure it is the answer to a real life problem. Focus groups, surveys and as much market research as possible.”

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Chelsea Cox, founder of Well Defined

“Know your value and ever let anyone feel that you aren’t good enough. Find your tribe of supportive people who want to see you succeed.”

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Sally Lovett founder of Stretch The City

“Don’t be afraid to:

  • Just give it a go.
  • Base decisions on your gut feel.
  • Evolve and adapt your business as it’s grows. Chances are it won’t look how you envisaged it at conception.
  • Fill your knowledge gaps. As a business owner in the early days you have to be every single department, from marketing to accounts and IT. Luckily, we live in an age where there is SO much free advice and expertise at your fingertips, so devour podcasts, books and blogs to fill your knowledge gaps and boost your confidence.”

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Fabienne O’Neill, Co-founder of Cuckooz Nest

“Know your product and your competitors, trust your instinct, it’s a powerful tool and don’t be afraid to ask for a little help along the way!”

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Katy Murray, Women’s Leadership Coach and Director of Catalyst Collective

“Have a financial buffer before you jump into a start-up situation so that scarcity is not driving your business decisions.  Know that it’s likely to take longer than you think to reach your goals. And know that over time you can achieve more than you think you can. Get really clear about what you want to create and why. Test out your idea and build your community.

Be ready for massive learning curves.  Surround yourself with role models (can be online as well as IRL) who expand your possibility thinking. Intentionally cultivate supportive and challenging relationships with other women who will proactively cheerlead you.”

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Clio Wood founder of & Breathe

“Give it a go, and don’t be tied to your original idea if something feels sticky.  I’m particularly bad at this (holding on to my idea when it’s not quite right) so I can definitely speak from experience.  If you really believe in the concept behind what you’re doing and it impacts lives positively, know that that’s also an important way to measure success as well as making money.”

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Cynthia Huang, Founder of Altcoin Fantasy

“One of the toughest parts of being a startup founder is the mental and emotional rollercoaster you go through on a daily (or even hourly!) basis. No matter how often people tell you that startups are tough, you don’t truly understand it until you go through it. Know that it’s going to be really hard and it’s normal to feel doubt, uncertainty and to constantly question yourself and what you’re doing. The important part is to always push through it and keep believing in what you’re doing.”

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Emilie Le, Founder of Lucky Face

“Get validation very quickly. Stop talking about your idea and get to work showing people your idea.”

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Efua Akumanyi, Founder of Furnishful

“If you have a business idea, make sure it’s something that you feel very passionately about. You are going to need that passion to carry you through the more challenging times. And remember that all businesses face challenges.

Also, start networking as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have a fully formed idea, network with people who have already started their business and have the same entrepreneurial mindset. Being around that energy and experience can help you refine your ideas, as well as build a community of supportive people.

Finally, just start. Don’t procrastinate and worry yourself out of starting a venture. Everyone has to begin somewhere. Read books, listen to podcasts and network, but make sure you start the business too.”

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Kate Rostance, Founder of Fat Free Media

“Have a clear idea what success looks like to you (even if that changes along the way), and don’t be swayed if that looks different to other people’s versions of success. There’s a lot of vanity metrics out there, but if you can work out your own principals, you won’t find yourself chasing someone else’s dream.”

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Ebonie Allard, Founder of Misfit to Maven

“Focus on these things, they are all that matter.

  1. Vision (what do you want, for you, for your brand and for your tribe.)
  2. Alignment (Set everything up to honour this, your routines, rituals, habits, beliefs, environment.)
  3. Offer (Put offer after offer out that that clearly solve your peoples problems and tell them what problem you see of theirs, and how you solve it.)”

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Tommy Ludgate, Founder of Brightly Imagine

“Just start.   Don’t wait for the right time.  Don’t hesitate in order to make things perfect. Just get on with it and you’ll figure it out as you go along!”

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Georgie Olley, Founder of Nomad Design

“Be kind, be patient, be consistent with your message, be persistent and keep moving forwards, always forwards.”

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Lauren Mellor, Founder of Mabel

“Don’t overthink it. Sometimes you just have to start. You’ll be surprised how much falls into place.”

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Farryn Watts, Founder of Farryn Amber

“Get ready for the biggest ride of your life! Emotionally, physically and mentally. Its exhausting but also the most rewarding experience you can have.”

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Rubbi Bhoghal Wood, Founder of Wild And Form Digital

“Build relationships both in online and in-person networks. They will be invaluable for support, connections, experience, laughter and opportunities.

Create your own opportunities. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Realise you are in control and if you don’t do it, then who will?”

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Sara Carty, Founder of MarketBound

“Persistence is key! There will be highs and lows and running a business can be a bit of a roller coaster ride but it’s important to stay focused. I always try to live by the mantra ‘remember why you started’.”

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About the author

Lara Sheldrake is a Social Media Strategist and Founder at Found & Flourish. Lara writes and speaks on the topics of entrepreneurship, motherhood and social media for business. She also hosts the Bossing It podcast, aimed at empowering the next generation of female founders in the UK. Send Lara an email. You can also find her on Instagram @Lara_Sheldrake or Twitter @Lara_Sheldrake.

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