Lessons I learned from starting my own business
I read a quote one time that said ‘the best way to predict your future is to create it’, but I wouldn’t be the first to admit that the road to success as an entrepreneur is not necessarily the easiest.
So why do we do it?
What is the driving force or desire that propels us into a life that’s far from ordinary?
In this article, we chat with 4 inspirational women in business committed to creating their own success.
Every challenge is an opportunity for learning and growth.
According to Elizabeth Herr, Founder and Body language specialist for The People Toolbox, “Life is never dull! In between home educating our children, mentoring, speaking, and running our home, I tried to keep up-skilling professionally.”
In 2016 Elizabeth and her husband hit a financial challenge so she added a paid, part-time job as a PA/EA to her already busy schedule. However, while some women may crumble at the extra workload while building a business, looking after a home and all the day to day struggles that ‘doing life’ can offer, Elizabeth chose to focus on the positives.
“This [situation] actually gave me admin and organisational experience for my business, and I was better at it than I thought I’d be. Our home educating journey was coming to an end in 2017 and I needed to start planning my next steps. My husband had been running his own business for over 20 years by then, but I never thought it was something I’d be able to do.”
This is what propelled Elizabeth into creating her own business.
“I had always been interested in human behaviour, mental well-being, and personal development. My last role as a mental health nurse included group training and facilitation which, to my surprise, is something I enjoyed doing, a lot! I started dreaming about starting my own business, helping people grow personally and gain confidence, which I actually lacked at the time! What to do? I was looking for a good communication’s course and stumbled upon a body language course, something I’ve always been interested in.”
The course was the first of many for Elizabeth and as she learned to be intentional with her non-verbal communication, her confidence grew exponentially, pushing her to want to share this with EVERYONE.
“Still, I was unsure of what I could truly offer. One evening, I made a list of things I’ve done well in the past and skills I’d acquired in my adult life. I looked at the list as if I was reading about someone else, and for the first time in my life, I thought, ‘That person is quite amazing!’ I told a friend about it and then she challenged me. ‘Stop asking what you have to offer others, and ask what they’ll miss out on if they don’t get to know you!’ That was a turning point for me and I started to own my knowledge and acknowledge my own skills. With the amazing support from my family and friends, I jumped into this exciting journey.”
Elizabeth is straight up, like most of us, about self confidence.
“Self-belief was by far the most difficult thing for me to gain. Sometimes I had to just take steps in the right direction based on the confidence my tribe had in me. I was fortunate to have a husband with experience in running a business and a friend who offered to mentor me! This is 100% not a journey you can walk on your own, and so I rely on my tribes to support and challenge me on the way.”
Carve your own pathway
As a solopreneur, Pamela Elliott, owner and independent Bra Fit Specialist for INTIMO Lingerie, knows the importance of carving your own pathway. With a background in broadcast television and a keen eye for fashion, she’s carefully found her feet in the INTIMO world, making her way to become NZ’s top seller many times!
“I was already in Retail Businesses I owned, but felt trapped as the necessary hours spent were becoming less rewarding in every sense. This [INTIMO] career was initially in addition to the career I already had, but proved to be more rewarding by its flexibility, fun, upskilling and personal development potential. Cash flow was important and working alongside women who also wanted to have what I had in terms of career choice, income, flexible working hours, fashion , fun, and adult company.”
While it sounded like Pamela found everything she was looking for, the reality is that EVERY business has its challenges.
“Managing my time and developing a network beyond my current small circle was a challenge. Overcoming that was slow and I needed to make decisions to strategically use the time available. Once time wasn’t the overriding issue, I then was able to expand my horizons.”
The power of pivoting
Many of us experience the stress of relationship breakups, relocations or changes in life circumstances, but for Susy Egneus, founder and CEO of Bodyworkz Corporate Massage Ltd, changes in her situation opened the door to a whole new world.
“I was struggling with being a full time mum, and wanting ‘to do’ something, and create something purposeful in my life. Life made the decision for me in terms of a relationship breakup. I was living in the far North of NZ, and was studying via correspondence (yes before online learning was a thing) towards a naturopath degree, as I was interested in natural health. I took the kids and moved to Auckland, and decided that since I really liked the massage component of the course, I would study a qualification towards it. I set up a practice at home for starters, but didn’t feel safe bringing clients in. I always liked the idea of bringing massage to the workplace and did a lot of research around this, before changing my business to my first corporate massage business (back in 2004).”
And this was just the beginning of her first of 2 corporate massage businesses!
However getting started was a challenge….
“Finding clients to start with [was a challenge]! And putting myself ‘out there’. Having no business experience, and just starting with simple flyers, and talking to people was hard. Also believing in myself was something I had to overcome, [while] feeling that although I knew how to massage and was good with it, and although the intention was there, I lacked the business practice I thought I needed.”
So how did Susy overcome those self limiting beliefs and grow 2 successful businesses?
“[I learned] that sometimes the best lessons are from doing the actual work, as that is how experience is earned! Also, [I learned] to show up no matter what, and with intention. It is just one step after the other. And to trust the process. I still struggle with this one, as I want things to happen in my timeframe, not letting it unfold as a process…But I’m getting there.”
Be open to possibilities
Sharlene Ferguson professional photographer and owner of Focal Point Photos is a wonderfully curious individual, with a passion for capturing the realness of people through her images.
“ I was super young. I’d graduated Uni with a Bachelor of Business Studies, then was lucky enough to have various contracts & roles that catapulted my skill set: Coordinating advertising in publishing, making clothes for a living, studio management for a photographer and business development for a events company – All great experience that I’m so grateful for.”
While some people spend their lives looking for their ‘thing’, for Sharlene, it was obvious.
“Photography seemed like an obvious choice. I realized one day while flicking through a stock library book that photography would allow me to experience and explore so many areas of life that I was interested in – people, places, creativity, industries, business, emotion, expression, design etc. It ticked so many boxes for my personality and I just knew it was the right fit for me.”
However, like most creatives, getting yourself ‘out there’ and building a client base can be a challenge, however she attributes her 25 years of business success to 2 simple factors: patience & perseverance.
SO, finally we asked one big question to each of our contributors in this article:
“What is that one piece of wisdom that you’ve learnt, which you want to share with anyone else considering starting their own business?”
Elizabeth: ‘Do it scared’, and ‘Done is better than perfect.’
Pamela: Believe you will succeed and do everything you know and can learn, to do so.
Susy: Just do it! You know more than you think, you are stronger than you know, so just start small, but do start. Create a road map, set the GPS so you know where you want to end up. Enjoy the journey bit by bit, lamp post to lamp post, minute by minute. Keep going, but take breaks and reflect on the journey as well.
Sharlene: Be kind to yourself
We couldn’t have said it better.
If these messages have resonated with you, make sure you connect with these amazing women online and ‘like’ or ‘follow’ their social pages. You never know where that journey might take you…….
Thanks to our contributors:
Elizabeth Herr: People Toolbox
Pamela Elliot: Intimo
Susy Egneus: Bodyworkz Corporate Massage Ltd
Sharlene Ferguson: Focal Point Photos