flexible working

From clueless to kick-starting a business: how I got off the ground

You’ve been daydreaming about it for months, if not years- leaving it all behind.

The desk job. The same seat on the 7.42am. The tuna sandwich from the Pret on the corner for lunch.

Every. Single. Day.

And now....you’re finally launching that business you’ve always talked about.

The one that combines your skills and passion. That allows you to choose where and when you work and make money doing what you love.

But somewhere between saying goodbye to PAYE and hello to Skype calls in the park, there’s a big plan-shaped hole that you’re not sure how to fill...

I’ve been there.

I had a great job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. But I couldn’t shake the overwhelming desire for a more balanced lifestyle that worked for my family. Not only that – I wanted to achieve something just for me.

I had a passion for helping women thrive in business.  I knew I could mentor them to make the most of opportunities in their workplace or guide them through the transition to self-employment.

So, in February 2017, I set up my limited company.

I thought opportunities would materialise, without really giving much thought to what else might be involved! Looking back, it seems crazy. I’d always been successful at work.  I’d built new teams for companies, helped them troubleshoot major challenges and achieve their goals...yet here I was, just waiting for my business to happen without really knowing how.

It was a scary moment when I found myself with no plan – and no clue!

Unsure of where to turn for advice, I fumbled through the next few weeks, and eventually came across a coach. The first thing she asked was, “What’s your timescale for when you want your first client?” That was my light bulb moment.

I realised there was no magic leap to my dream business. Setting small, achievable daily actions was what would help me reach my goal. And building relationships was vital.

So, I set about networking.

For months, I did nothing but talk to people.

I began by targeting ex-colleagues and contacts on LinkedIn. I didn’t know their needs, or even if they really had any so they were not necessarily ideal clients. But these familiar contacts were a good starting point as they led me onto others who did need my services.

And the more people I met, the more I noticed a pattern emerging. Similar questions kept popping up and each time, I refined my answers more and more. Soon, I understood how to steer conversations to get the most out of them.

In short, I began to hone my networking craft.

Within months, I landed a contract with a law firm and I was invited to join the board of a tech start up. Shortly after, I began signing up clients for my women in business mentorship. Finally, things were happening!

I learnt the hard way so you don’t have to!

Getting started was a slow process of trial and error. But it taught me that a) good relationships are everything (after all, that’s what a service based business is all about!) and b) it’s the small actions underpinning your goal which will help you succeed.

So, here are my top 5 starter tips:

1. Break it down

Sure, aiming for a business that turns over six figures and allows you to work from your poolside in the Med is a great goal.  But it’s a little overwhelming!

Keep sight of your dream but focus on the baby steps. Simply committing to taking daily action is much more realistic.

Plus, you’ll be amazed at how motivating it is to achieve something every day, no matter how small.
 

2. It’s good to talk

‘Networking’ is a scary word. It conjures up high-powered, organised events, full of sharp elbows and big egos trying to outdo each other.

Forget all that.

Just think of networking as having conversations. It can be as simple as a chat with that mum at the school gates who’s great at web design, a catch up with an old colleague or a coffee with a friend of a friend who works in your target industry.

But remember, relationships are an important investment so always give something back and take the time to stay in touch.
 

3. Stay true to you
Since starting my business, I’m more ‘me’ than I’ve ever been – funky glasses, beautiful shoes, holiday addiction and all.

People connect with authenticity.

Don’t try to shoehorn yourself into some strange new ‘business owner’ persona. You don’t have to tone down your wardrobe and hide the fact you love belting out Kylie classics at karaoke (because, er, who doesn’t?!). 

Yes, a certain level of professionalism is necessary but bring all those quirky traits to the table too. These all help to create your personal brand.

Be you in your entirety. After all, you are what your clients buy into.
 

4. Consider a mentor

Well, I would say that wouldn’t I?

But as a professional with years of mentoring and coaching experience, I know how expert insights and advice can help to overcome a crisis of confidence, provide clarity and focus.

For some clients, just having someone to check in with regularly helps to keep them on track.
 
Others prefer the guidance of a full-on, 1-1 mentor, holding their hand every step of the way.

Whatever your needs, I can tailor my approach to help you get to where you want to be a damn sight quicker than going it alone.
 

5. Outsource!

 Focus on what you’re good at and call in the experts when you need extra help. If syncing your phone and laptop so you can access all you need on the go seems a mission-impossible, consult an IT expert. Likewise, don’t stare cross-eyed at a pile of receipts for hours, when an accountant could complete your tax return in minutes.

Consider domestic help, too. Family demands and general life admin can be a full time job. So, sign the kids up for after school clubs, pay a dog walker or employ a cleaner. Whatever it takes to keep your home and family ticking over will free up time and head space.

And, let’s face it, any excuse to avoid loading the dishwasher...

What’s stopping you from achieving your dreams?  What’s standing between you and the life you want to lead?
 

Sign up to my mailing list to receive future blog posts and communications.  https://www.helenastoneconsultancy.com/subscribe/

If you’re ready to kick-start your business, why not book a FREE 30 minute call to understand how mentoring can help you?