This month our business celebrates its 6th birthday!
Wow, what a ride it’s been! Six years ago I had no idea how to run a business.
I’d just returned home from New Zealand, full of passion for a natural and organic lifestyle, and a burning desire to do something I love and earn a living from it too.
Today our business supports us as a family and inspires over 15,000 people globally to create products and start their own business. We have over 1500 students and graduates in over 40 countries. We are living the dream, our dream and helping others live their dream too. Pretty amazing!
In honour of six years in business, here are six things we’ve learned to help YOU on your entrepreneurial journey. If we can do it so can you! We’re right here cheering you on.
1) Know what success is for you
You may not want a million dollar business or to be the next Body Shop or L’Oreal. Or you might do. Whichever is totally fine.
Your idea of success might be the sense of pride you feel at seeing your products on the shelf of a trendy organic store, helping people with a skin issue that’s been really bothering them, having fun creating products that people love using, ditching the commute and working from home, having the flexibility to be there for your kids more.
Our reasons for wanting a business are personal to us. As you are building your business remember why you are doing it. Build a business in alignment with those values. Don’t create the business someone else wants, build the one that YOU want.
I desperately wanted to escape an office. I wanted location independence. I wanted to do something I was passionate about. I wanted to infuse people’s days with the wonder of nature. I wanted to be at home with my kids. I wanted an outlet for my creativity.
Some of those things I achieved really early on in my business – sharing my passion, connecting people to nature, using my creativity. Some came a few years later – leaving my office job, location independence, being home with my kids. I now have the business I dreamed of, I have achieved MY personal vision of success.
I could work more hours to build an empire and make more money, but I don’t want to. My family is more important.
What is success for you? Work towards that.
Celebrating leaving my office job!
2) Follow your passion, inspiration and intuition
These are probably the most powerful tools a business owner has!
Do what you love and work and life becomes a whole lot more fun!
Passion will drive your forward and keep you going especially in those early days when you may be putting long hours into getting your business off the ground (and probably juggling a day job and family too).
Your ideas, inspiration and intuition will give you the cutting edge. Listen to them. Act on them. When I started the School of Natural Skincare, it was the first of its kind. There was nothing else like it out there. I had no idea if it would work. But inspiration hit me one day and I knew I just had to act on it. I am so glad I did.
When building your business and brand, follow your passion, inspiration and intuition to create something truly you-nique.
Teaching my first ever class!
3) Start before you are ready and do what it takes
If you wait until you have enough time, money or experience to start your business, you’ll be waiting an awfully long time (maybe forever).
Here’s a secret. You will never feel ready.
Here’s another secret. Start where you are, with what you have, right now.
Take small steps. Make time. Even half an hour here or there. Start with what you do know. Just start. You won’t regret starting small, but you will regret not starting at all, letting the months and years pass by, your dream still just a dream.
Do what it takes.
You may need to work late into the night or early in the morning as you juggle your fledgling business with a day job or family. We worked either full time or part time in other jobs during the first few years. While others watched TV in the evenings and slept in at the weekends, we were learning how to build a website and travelling to teach workshops at colleges.
It is so worth sacrificing a few hours sleep!
4) Ignore the competition and the naysayers
When you start there will be many people who think you are crazy, who think its a bad idea, who just can’t see how it can possibly work. The best thing you can do is thank them for their concern and carry on regardless. You are a visionary, a changemaker, an entrepreneaur. They are not. It takes guts to do you own thing, determination, faith and belief. Not everyone is cut out for it. Don’t let them hold you back
Ignore the competition too. You could watch every move your competition makes, obsess and worry over it. Think there isn’t room for you, too.
What is much more important is to focus on YOUR customers, what makes you unique and providing the best customer experience you can.
Yes it’s important to do some market analysis, identify a gap in the market, a niche, an opportunity. Then stop paying attention to your ‘competition’ Unsubscribe from their newsletters. Unfollow them on social media. (Try it, it’s incredibly liberating).
Instead focus on serving your customers. Do what you do best, in the way you want to do. Your business will come on in leaps and bounds.
5) You must be a marketer first and foremost
To run a successful business you must be a marketer first and foremost.
Without a consistent focus on marketing, creating brand awareness, welcoming new customers and keeping in touch with existing ones, you don’t have a business. Marketing is what drives sales, and sales are what you need to have a successful business and not just an expensive hobby.
Have fun with your marketing!
These days there are loads of fun ways to market your brand – get creative on Pinterest and Instagram, build a beautiful website, share your passion via a blog, write inspiring newsletters.
You don’t have to do everything. Choose the marketing that works for you and that you enjoy and get really good at it.
Focusing on marketing turned our business from a small part-time hobby business into one that brought in enough money for us to quit our jobs. It can make that much of difference!
What are you waiting for?
6) Team work makes the dream work
It sounds cheesy but is totally true!
I was really lucky to meet Gareth 10 months or so after starting my business. It was (and is) so great to have someone to bounce ideas off, someone who believes in and wants the same thing. Someone with complementary skills. Someone to problem-solve with and celebrate with.
Running a business can be lonely especially in the early days when you are likely doing everything yourself. Your romantic partner doesn’t need to be your business partner but finding a mentor or group of likeminded people to share their expertise and experience with you, cheer you on, and answer your questions will help you get where you want to go so much faster and much more enjoyably.