Welcome to the Real Women, Real Business series!
This is the second series that I have done. The first one was very popular so I decided to do another one!
Before I left my corporate job, I was so in awe (and still am) of women who had taken the leap and set up their own business. I wanted to know how they came up with their idea and what gave them the courage to finally go for it.
When I set up IWMLBproject I decided to interview women who had launched their own successful businesses. It is so interesting to read about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ from real-life down-to-earth women just like you and me.
Here are the other interviews if you want to have a read!
- Interview 1: Ellie Frost, Brand Strategist, and Business Coach
- Interview 2: Rachel Creeger. A comedian, writer, and director
- Interview 3: Laura Peli. Executive Career Coach
- Interview 4: Monika Wawrzyczek. Mystique Lash Salon, and Academy
- Interview 5: Louise Winter: A Modern Funeral Director
- Interview 6: Georgia Gallone. Digital Marketing Consultant and App Founder
- Interview 7: Ekua Kant Afterwork Drinks Service Founder
- Interview #8: Hannah Xu: Tax Consultancy Founder
- Interview #9: Emma Parker: Virtual Reality Company Founder
This week’s interview is with the founder of a Cognitive Hypnotherapy, Coaching and Wellbeing business.
An interview with Alexandra Taylor, Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist (Dip.CBH) & Counsellor
What is your business?
Aegle Mind – Cognitive Hypnotherapy, Coaching and Wellbeing
What was your previous job?
Office Manager The London Management Company (Property)
What made you decide you wanted to leave your corporate job?
I actually loved my old job in some respect. It was a small, young and fun environment and I had really great friends. It was perfect for my 22 year old self.
However, from day one, I always knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be.
My role didn’t challenge me nor did it align with the things that inspired me or were important to me.
The company started to undergo some changes, the director left and was replaced with a new man who held different values and rumours of financial difficulties were circulating.
I could have stayed there and been comfortable (probably richer!), but I decided to take this as an opportunity to go and do what it was I really wanted to do: to seek meaningful work and create positive change.
How did you decide what business to set up?
For me it was easy 🙂
I had counselling as a teenager and it blew my mind how one minute I couldn’t even conceive of being happy and a few months later I was full of life.
I read voraciously around the different types of therapy that existed finding ones that resonated strongly with me. I am a natural listener.
I find it easy to really hear what someone is saying to me, plus I have always been passionate about helping people so it seemed an obvious step.
What was the first step you took once you decided to start the business?
I did several counselling training courses and qualifications, partly as a way to deepen my understanding and confidence, but partly, I now realise, as a means of delaying actually setting up my business as I was terrified.
I took baby steps initially, coming up with a name and brand, registering my company and sorting out all the paperwork and insurance.
I found myself a therapy room in a clinic which was free of charge for the first two months and spoke to my current employer about reducing my hours. I also joined a temping agency fitting in as many hours as I could.
Was everyone supportive of your idea?
My family, partner and close friends have been my absolute rock throughout all this. They have supported me from the get go, even if they didn’t understand.
None of us had any clue about setting up a business but together we bounced off ideas and worked it out. I am eternally grateful for their love and support.
I was hesitant at first to share what I was doing with my wider network of friends and colleagues, but again, when I did tell them they all expressed a belief in me which made me wish I told them earlier!
Did you have an ‘emergency fund’ to tide you over while you set up your business or did you start it on the side while still at work?
I started a savings account when the idea of leaving my job took root. I then reduced my hours to be part time and joined three amazing temping agencies.
When I went full time I had about £3,000 saved up which I would only dip into when absolutely necessary.
Did you have to get any outside investment to get going?
Did you take any courses or qualifications?
Psychotherapy & Counselling Certificate at Regents University
Pause Place Practitioner Training
Diploma at UK College of Hypnosis
Certificate in Stress and Resilience Management
CIM Marketing Level 4 (which I was lucky enough that my job at the time funded!)
Did you have any particular fears about starting a business and if so how did you get over them?
Was I good enough and why would someone pay me when I was only starting out.
I am a therapist not a business woman. I don’t know much about marketing or selling myself. How could I make this work on my own. Would I be lonely.
I used the tools I learnt during my trainings such as planning, journalling, visualisation and cognitive techniques.
I used Amy Cuddy’s rule of fake it till you make it. I put myself out of my comfort zone and challenged myself.
The more people I saw the more I learnt and easier it all became.
Meditation. Meditation. Meditation.
What was the hardest thing about setting up the business?
Learning and allowing myself to take a rest when I needed it.
I found myself working till 10pm because I felt I should and would never succeed otherwise.
Now that I listen to my body and work in harmony with it, I find that I am much more productive and don’t feel exhausted the whole time.
P.S If you haven’t come up with your business idea yet, I have made a free ‘Business Idea Worksheet’ for you to use.
You can go through the sheet to brainstorm your business ideas and select one to get started with. Click on the link below to get your worksheet.
Did you make any mistakes when you were setting up?
Yes, a lot of it was trial and error.
I would email instead of calling or setting up to meet face to face as I was convinced that people would see through me or call me out.
Now I get a lot of my inspiration and energy from the people I connect with as well as have a support network of people I can rely on.
Stretched myself too thin and gave away a lot of my time for free.
I tried to buy followers on Instagram of the back of some recommendation. This really damaged my account and it’s organic growth and I think is still recovering to this day.
I learnt that you can’t skip corners!
How long did it take before you made enough for an full-time income?
I’m still not earning what I was before in property, but after eighteen months I was able to survive with this as my full time income.
I still temp from time to time and do side projects on the side to help keep a healthy bank balance.
How do you manage your time?
I work Monday through till Friday with the occasional weekend workshop.
I recognise that I work best in the morning and so use that time for the tasks I find most challenging or time consuming.
Then I use the afternoons for creative projects like reading, writing, meetings and therapy planning. I travel a lot around London and so always take my laptop or notebook so that I can work on route.
Do you ever procrastinate and how do you deal with it?
Yes I can do. I feel like I should always be doing something which can lead to time spent achieving little.
I create weekly schedules, dividing my time into hours and marking what is essential, important, not important and pleasure.
I think we all need to include something which brings us joy into our days.
If I am really struggling with motivation, I use the time to exercise or meditate as that always helps to clear my mind.
How do you market your business? Word of mouth/types of social media?
I work through The Light Centre who market me online and with flyers. I write guest blog posts and talk about my work in my meditation classes.
I also rely upon word of mouth and reviews. I use social media but I know I need to improve and define my strategy in more detail.
What is your favourite thing about having your own business?
The flexibility! The focus. And feeling immensely proud of every small success 🙂
Which female entrepreneur most inspires you?
My mentor Katie Abbott. The most loving, kind hearted and inspiring woman I know. Founder of Pause Place. Muma of two.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to women who want to start a business?
Have faith in yourself.
If you really want it, you will make it happen.
Expect and accept that there will be ups and downs, but each little achievement is the most rewarding experience. So keep going and reach out for help whenever you need it!
Thank you, Alexandra!
If you want to find out more about Alexandra and her business, you can check out the links below.