Have you ever eaten so much chocolate you felt you were going to vomit?
Have you ever drunk so much alcohol you vowed you would never drink again?
That’s exactly how I felt at the end of writing my book, Secrets of Successful Sales, I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. Drained from the hours of writing, reading, editing, rewriting, dictating, cropping, then repeating again. All of course while running a profitable business and being a wife and a mother. I’ve never run a marathon, but as a dyslexic, writing a book is the closest experience I can imagine.
Like chocolate and wine, as time goes by the negative memories we associate with them don’t last as long as the positive ones. That’s how I feel now about writing. I love it in moderation, so I’m happy to publish blogs, but the thought of writing another book still gives me the shivers. Although I said no more children, after my first son Kieran was born, and 17 months later his brother Connor arrived, so never say never!!
During the frenzy of the book deadline, I celebrated my milestone 50th Birthday. I decided on a fairly low-key event, as to be honest the thought of turning 50 wasn’t something I relished. Having a chequered family health history, it actually made me question my mortality and made me wonder if I had more years behind me than in front of me. On reflection, the answer is probably yes, which could be for some people a frightening thought, but on re-evaluation for me, “It is what it is, I’m lucky to be here.”
It was a question asked recently by a friend which has prompted this blog. She asked,
“Don’t you wish you set the business up years before you did?
I didn’t have to think before I answered,
She was a little shocked at my response and queried why I had not done it sooner. My response was
“Easy, It wasn’t my time to shine!”
As we approach International Women’s Day, the world starts to focus on women’s roles in the economy and with talk of the gender pay gap, #metoocampaign, #pressforprogress and the 100 year anniversary of the vote, this year it’s more topical than ever.
Why did I not start my business years ago?
First and foremost, being an entrepreneur and doing something for myself had never hit my radar. I had a well-paid part-time job with great perks in a corporate environment which I really enjoyed.
Secondly, my priority role was being a mum to my two boys. This may be controversial in times where women are fighting for equality with men, but for me, I chose to have children to spend time with them. There was nothing I enjoyed more than taking them to swimming lessons, picking them up from school and having their friends round for play dates. I wanted to enjoy my time with them rather than feeling they were an inconvenience.
Thirdly, my elderly parents had moved 400 miles from their hometown of Clydebank to be close to me and my children. In my opinion, parents are like puppies, they are not just for Christmas they are for life. They both passed away within a few years of the move, so the memories I created during that time were priceless for everyone.
What was the catalyst for change?
Without realising it there was a domino effect. In 2011, my children were both approaching high school age so the demands on my time were less, my mother passed away and the company I worked for no longer aligned to my vision of customer experience. With all things considered, age 44 I decided to “become my own boss”.
Over the last six years, things have been a whirlwind and the highlights are numerous. Never in a month of Sundays when I set up the company did I expect to be voted one of the UK’s top 10 business advisers, a regular visitor to 10 Downing Street, invited to have tea with the Queen, win multiple awards, running events in The Middle East, speak on the same bill as Lord Sugar and be a regular contributor to the BBC. And of course, not to mention top-selling author!
What have I learned?
1. It’s never too late
Lots of people when they hit 40 or 50 start to think about slowing down, for me at 50, I’m continually looking for ways to ramp it up and push the boundaries further.
2. Look for new ways
In the words of Bob Dylan “The times they are a changing” Don’t be a dinosaur, be a chameleon. Keep moving, and if you can’t keep up, surround yourself with people who can do things for you.
3. Hang out with young people, they keep you young
I enjoy nothing better than hanging out with my young entrepreneur friends, Jordan Daykin, Ben Towers, Simon Crowther and Phil Pallen. Their enthusiasm for business is refreshing and we learn from each other every day. Mixing with inspirational people also increases your energy levels and I’m sure I party as hard as them despite a generation of an age gap!!
4. Success is a marathon, not a sprint
If you think it will take 5 minutes to get rich quick, think again, there is no magic formula, you will not get rich quick no matter how many five thousand dollar courses you sign up for.
5. Everyone has a thing
This is something I talk about in my school mentoring. For me another reason I didn’t start a business was because I didn’t have a clue what kind of business to start. It was only from my conversation with Loraine Lester where I started see that my strengths could become a busines and that I could help lots of salespeople and entrepreneurs to sell the way I do.
6. Knowledge is power
With 50 years under my belt I have lots of knowledge in different areas. This is a strength is to capitalise on. Start focusing on your strengths and stop focusing on your weaknesses. For example, I may not be the best at grammar and spelling, but I’m great on camera, so I do Facebook lives and videos to get to my target audience.
7. Stop comparing yourself to other people
For me starting a business at 44 could leave me thinking I’m at a disadvantage to people who started well before me. But it’s not where you start it’s were you finish that counts. Don’t let impostor syndrome hold you back.
8. You don’t have to hit the gym at 5 am
I see a lot of online content from successful entrepreneurs with selfies in the gym mirrors. That’s great if it works for them, but it’s not compulsory for everyone. I am an early starter and usually awake by 5 am or 6 am, but I’m not working out. I’m clearing my inbox, doing my social media, and formulating my plan for the day, so every day I have a clean slate to concentrate on sales. It’s your life, do what you like, just make every second count.
9. Laugh, laugh and laugh even more
Laughing and fun are two of my favourite pastimes. I love company and always look for an excuse to enjoy spending time with people who make me happy.
10. If it feels like work, you’re doing it wrong
It may sound cheesy, but I honestly love what I do every day. People say, “what is your hobby?” I don’t want or need one, I love what I do so much. Would I have felt like that if I had set my business up in my 20’s or 30’s? Maybe, but probably not!
So no matter your age, no matter your experience, don’t look back with regret. Focus on your strengths and find your passion. Then when the time is right to recognise the signs, listen to what your friends and family are telling you and go for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re 17 or 70!
I would love to hear about your experiences below – what kick-started your entrepreneurial story?