Welcome to the Real Women, Real Business series!
This is the second interview 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!
This week’s interview is with the founder of Social B, a social media training and services company.
An interview with Louise Brogan, an Online Marketing Consultant!
Photo by Tara Torrens of TJ Torrens Photography
What is your business?
Social Bee NI – helping professionals and entrepreneurs with social media to raise visibility online.
What was your previous job?
Part-time IT Project Manager in the Health Service.
What made you decide you wanted to leave your corporate job?
Lack of opportunity for career progression while wanting to work part-time with three young children.
How did you decide what business to set up?
I already had a local craft shop which I was running alongside my job, and wasn’t making very much money at all.
A business advisor pointed out to me that I had IT skills, and knew a lot more about social media than any other small business owner she had met, and suggested that I help others entrepreneurs out with their Facebook pages!
What was the first step you took once you decided to start the business?
I closed my shop! I continued in my part-time PM role for two years while I built the business up from scratch and saved every penny.
I started by offering two local businesses free support and took it from there.
Was everyone supportive of your idea?
Hmm. My father had passed away (he was my entrepreneurial inspiration. He had his own business for 30 years) and I think he would have been very concerned about me leaving a ‘good job’.
My mum was worried about me leaving a job to work for myself. My husband gave me the push to leave the job.
He could see my frustration at the lack of opportunity, and told me that I had shown I could make the business work, and now was the time to go for it.
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?
Yes, over the two years, I saved every penny I made, so that when I did quit, I had a full years salary to fall back on.
Did you have to get any outside investment to get going?
No. I am wary of debt and do not like it if my bank balance falls below a certain level, so being risk-averse, I wanted to do it on my own.
Did you take any courses or qualifications?
Not initially. I have since learned that investing in online training and courses makes life easier rather than trying to figure out stuff on your own.
Invest in some decent training and you will get there quicker.
Did you have any particular fears about starting a business and if so how did you get over them?
Sheer determination. We have one life to live therefore if you are not happy in your job, then change it or do something new.
Life flies past so quickly, why spend any of it doing stuff day to day that makes you miserable?
What was the hardest thing about setting up the business?
Figuring out how to get out there and network, understanding pricing, and sales.
Very few people will tell you what the market rate is for the service you offer.
I approach this differently and actively encourage the women I speak to, to charge properly and will share my rates.
A rising tide lifts ALL boats!
Did you make any mistakes when you were setting up?
Oh yes, so many.
I hired someone to build my website and then had no idea how to update it. I didn’t understand or appreciate the value in blogging to show your expertise.
And, I was probably taken advantage of by others who underpaid me!
How long did it take before you made enough for a full-time income?
I started off when I quit my job, with the full income saved in the bank.
How do you manage your time?
I live by the to-do list.
There is a calendar on my wall with all my dates and events on it. I have two whiteboards with clients, events, work etc on them.
I have a Virtual Assistant who helps me with bookings and admin. I have three kids so I try to do all my work while they are at school.
Now I stop work at 3pm whereas I used to work every day. I only check a few things in the evening rather than sitting with my laptop on my knee during the evening.
I used to have to do that while juggling my job and my business so I am glad I am past that stage.
Do you ever procrastinate and how do you deal with it?
Writing out all the things I need to do helps me to do the important things first. Having a VA helps a lot! I try not to do ‘all the things’.
How do you market your business?
Social media of course! My podcast, the Social Bee Podcast on iTunes. Writing blog posts and sharing them. Attending in-person networking events.
What is your favourite thing about having your own business?
Definitely being my own boss!
What book, podcast or anything else would you recommend to women who want to start their own business.
The Social Bee Podcast
! I have many women on there who talk about how they left their corporate jobs to start their own business.
Kate Erickson has a great podcast called Kate’s Take
– she is brilliant at describing how to set up processes in your business, and Natalie Eckdahl’s Biz Chix
podcast is my can’t-miss weekly listen.
Also, I love reading books like Think and Grow Rich for Women by Sharon Lechter and Rise of the Youpreneur by Chris Ducker.
Which female entrepreneur most inspires you?
What is the one piece of advice you would give to women who want to start a business?
Be clear about what you are selling and who is your ideal client. Survey your audience and make sure that someone will buy what you want to sell before you create it.
And surround yourself with peers who get you! Support is everything.
If you want to find out more about Louise and Social Bee NI, you can check out the links below.
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.
Get my free worksheet!