This year's theme for International Women's Day is 'choose to challenge'. In celebration of IWD we chat with Caitlin and Anna, the founders of entrepreneurship podcast, Lady Brains. Having interviewed so many brilliant business women, and in turn having become business oracles themselves, they have great insight on taking on challenges in business!
What are your top five tips for getting things up and running, either from your own experience or what you’ve gleaned from others?
- Get to know your customer on a deep level. We see lots of people starting brands who have an idea of their customer but when we dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that they haven’t actually spoken to them IRL. In our recent podcast episode with Flex Mami, founder of Flex Factory, she shared that her intimate knowledge of her customer has come from speaking to them in the DMs. Getting to know your customers can be as simple as having a chat, but it’s critical to uncover who they are and their pain points in order to design products or services they actually want and need.
- Start before you are ready. Every founder we’ve interviewed on our podcast took action on their idea before they had all the necessary information at hand and before they felt ready to press go. Jo Horgan, founder of MECCA, told us she had only a few year’s experience in beauty and no experience in retail when she opened her first store over 20 years ago. There’s one fundamental truth to starting a business…if you feel ready, you’ve left it too late.
- Reframe selling as serving. This is an epic piece of advice given to us by Nicole Eckels, the founder of Glasshouse Fragrances. There’s no way around it - you need to be able to sell in order to get your brand off the ground. Whether it’s selling your product or service, your vision to a brand, or yourself to an investor, being able to get buy-in from others is fundamental. We often conjure up the sleazy car salesman image when we think about selling, but when you reframe it to ‘serving’, you’re simply figuring out how you can help the other party. Think about it like this - if you’re not offering your product or service to someone that really needs it, then they’ll probably be worse off. They need you!
- Build relationships from the very beginning. Maeva Heim, founder of Bread Beauty Supply shared that every opportunity that has come her way was through a connection or relationship. It makes sense - no opportunity exists in a vacuum. They’re always attached to a person. Start building relationships with people in your space early on, even if you’re not sure where they’ll lead.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can’t do everything in your business by yourself, and if you do, your business will only ever be as big as one person. You! In the beginning, you’d be surprised at how much of your time is spent doing low-level, basic tasks. Outsource these tasks! It’ll free you up to work on projects that actually add value (and money) to your business. If you’re not sure what to outsource, make a list of every single task you do over the course of a week. At the end of the week, go back and highlight all the things that are working IN the business (operational work, process-driven work, work that doesn’t make you money) in yellow, and all the things that are working ON the business (strategic and creative things, things that make you cash) in pink. The yellow tasks are those you should outsource first.
What’s the one thing you are “choosing to challenge” in 2021?
This year, we’re challenging ourselves and our community to rewrite the narrative of what’s possible in our businesses. We’re challenging ourselves to think, play and dream bigger. We’re challenging ourselves to value our time and our skills properly and be rewarded (with cash money) for what we’re worth. We’re challenging ourselves to lean into tough conversations - with each other as co-founders, with our contractors, and with our brand partners. We’re challenging ourselves to stand firm in difficult negotiations, and not back down when we fundamentally believe in what we deserve. We’re challenging ourselves to stand up and show up for our business, our community, and each other, every single day.
You’re fast becoming the go-to for business mentorship - a critical resource, but beyond lady-brains, what are your favourite business related resources?
- Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. In this book, Simon shares why it’s important to communicate with others by firstly explaining the ‘why’ behind your message. When you’re building a brand, starting with ‘why’ is a solid framework that will help you exercise influence and get people to buy into your vision. A solid resource for any founder looking to build a brand and a team.
- The VIA Strengths Assessment https://www.viacharacter.org. This test helps you uncover and understand your strengths - those things you’re good at and love to do. Building a brand is made so much easier when we know what we’re good at (and on the flip side, when we know what we’re not good at) as it allows us to lean into our strengths and find support where we need it.
- James Clear’s 3-2-1 weekly email. James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits, and each Thursday he sends out an email with 3 ideas, 2 quotes and 1 question. They always spark new ideas or give us inspo for lady-brains.
- Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. This book requires no explanation!
- How I Built This, with Guy Raz. One of the original entrepreneurship podcasts - we love it!