So I’m currently on a course called Female Founders Accelerator which helps women take their business to the next level. On Friday, we had the second workshop and we focused on some of the most important aspects I feel every entrepreneur needs to remember: your values, self care and running your business on your own terms.
So the day started off as we usually do in which we gather in a circle and catch up on what we’ve been getting up to since the last session. Most of us had attended the networking event hosted by AirBnb the night before as they are in partnership with Hatch Enterprise who run FFA and held a debate about the affects of disruption on businesses.
For me, the last session made a big impact. I know I love what I do and beauty will always be a great passion but I have always felt my best qualities lead me to teaching, inspiring and motivating others to live their dreams. Finding out I could actually make steps now towards fulfilling my PURPOSE and live my dreams felt so uplifting, A few days after the last session, I spoke to one of my clients Emma who is a teacher at a Pupil Referral Unit where those that have been excluded from mainstream schools attend. These teenage girls I believe are who my purpose of teaching, inspiring and mentoring is meant for. I spoke to Emma about my hopes of creating workshops for teenage girls not only to train them in the practical skills needed to be a lash and brow technician but more so to make them aware that they are actually the group of people that are more likely to be great entrepreneurs! After all, entrepreneurship is all about taking risks and going against the grain sometimes right? After briefly explaining my aim with the workshops, Emma got just as excited and advised that these extra curriculum activities is exactly what her girls need to keep them engaged and although nothing has been confirmed, Emma and the PRU are keen to discuss further! So I’m now using the social business canvas to plan the idea of Bella Lash Brow as a social enterprise as well as a profitable beauty business and currently drafting the workshop design with the help of my coach Sarah, the FFA organizer Karen and all the amazing women on the course. It was great to see others in the group doing well also. There was definitely a great energy I could feel and it felt good to be a part of it. It was time for Ella and Ruth to present their social media canvas to the rest of us and both did so well.
The Less You Own, The More You Have
It was then time for Sarah to talk to us about how to get rid of the unimportant stuff to allow room for things that add value to your life by sharing some of the self development books she has read. As a self proclaimed ‘sucker for education’, it’s so good to have somebody so willing to share their knowledge and who, as an entrepreneur herself, can give real life practical examples.
The first book recommended was ‘Essentialism- Greg McKeown’ which is about the importance of making time for only the things you really want to do. So many of us meet friends for drinks or sacrifice our time to do favours for others which is all good and well but when those friends are actually ‘acquaintances’ or the people asking for favours know only how to take and never give, never actually adding any value to your life and business, it’s a problem! Sarah went through some images and asked us to quickly shout ‘Hell Yeah!’ or ‘No’ depending on the activity in the picture e.g. Sipping cocktails on a beach – Hell Yeah! Vs. Filing your tax returns- No. We then looked at our own diaries for the next week and noted how many ‘Hell Yeah!’ activities we had coming up vs. how many ‘No’ activities. Although I haven’t read the book, what I got from this is that I need to be careful of how many of the ‘No’ activities I’m spending time on and how many of them can actually be avoided. Some of these activities of course cannot be avoided and some are commitments we have signed up to but it was clear to see that I was due to be spending a lot of time on activities that was bringing absolutely no value to my life. It’s these activities I’m now working on removing completely and in turn, replace with many more ‘Hell Yeah!’ activities.
The next book Sarah recommended was ‘The Power of Tidying- Marie Kondo' which was all about the importance of looking at everything we own and asking ‘Does It Spark Joy?’. Holding onto things that doesn’t spark some sort of joy is CLUTTER and of no use to you or your home. Some things such as gifts or expensive items can of course be hard to throw away but if you want to clear your mind, you MUST clear your clutter first. I totally agree with this and was so happy when this came up. Having recently moved out into a much smaller bedroom and setting up my business from my living room in this one bedroom flat, I knew I had to be smart and get rid a lot of stuff. However the last few weeks, I felt the need to go through everything stored under my bed and declutter PROPERLY. This simple question of ‘Does It Spark Joy’ really helped! After coming back home from the workshop, I blasted some music on and I immediately set out to get rid of everything that didn’t make me happy when I looked at it within the first 3 seconds. I gave myself an hour to do it all which I think helped with the decision making. It was mostly clothes and shoes that I wanted to get rid of. We all have that one top that we KNOW we’re just never going to wear but ‘oh you know maybe one day it will fit right and the colour will magically change and I’ll like it more’ or that jumper that you know has been completely worn out and hanging on it’s last thread but ‘oh you know I could wear it around the house sometimes’. Items like this that didn’t immediately make me go ‘ahhhh’ got tossed in bags and put outside my local charity shop. Apart from the tattered stuff which was too bad for even a charity shop to sell! I am left with things that I actually like and wanted in my house and felt much lighter.
Sarah ended the session with recommending Minimalism- A Documentary About the Important Things which although is at the extreme end of owning less was very insightful and made me very aware of the how dangerous it can be to constantly chase after material things to feel a void within your soul which all the most expensive things in the world cannot fill and understand just how powerful the media and marketing can be to tap into that and really make you feel that these are things you NEED if you're ever going to be someone with a life worth living for.
Your Values Guide Your Life and Business
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony - Mahatma Gandhi
It was then time for our guest speaker Nikki Levitan to talk to us about the next part of the workshop which focused on the importance of VALUES! As I’d recently read ’Build a Brand in 30 Days- Simon Middleton’, I had previously done some work on this but this allowed me to explore it in much more detail. Values guide our life and is essentially our moral compass. It is our ‘why’ and the reason we get out of bed in the morning. Personal values whether we like it or not influences our business greatly and long after the founder of a company has left, their values still remain which determines how the business runs. Values are the heart of the business!
Nikki referred to a great TED Talk 'How Great Leaders Inspire Action - Simon Sinek' who gives the example of Apple and how Apple was struggling to find it’s identity again after the passing of Steve Jobs. Consumers don’t just connect with a brand because of the product/service it offers but instead they connect with the brand story. This brand story is your personal story and the values you hold should be clear in not only what you say you believe but followed through in your behaviour. The best way to find out what your values are is to ask yourself ‘What am I driven by?’ and then constantly checking ‘How am I living in full alignment with them?’ Nikki made it clear that when values are tested, deflation occurs and that can be seriously damaging to a business.
We were asked to think of our top 5 driving values and mine were:
Some of the ladies talked about success as their reason to throw the duvet off every morning which I felt strongly about also. However Nikki explained the difference between conscious vs. fear-based values and understanding that if the thought of the value not being in place doesn’t ‘piss you off’, then it shouldn’t be in your value list . She gave her own example of when she had to decide if ‘inclusion’ should be one of her 5 values. When Nikki thinks of ‘exclusion', she automatically feels something isn’t right within her gut and so is absolutely sure that it’s one of her driving therefore conscious values. A fear-based value however could be ‘success’. Let’s say success means ‘to make £10k a month’ but the thought of ‘not succeeding’ doesn’t really evoke a strong negative emotion, then it’s likely the goal of succeeding is due to some external factor e.g. a pushy partner and therefore is a fear based value. What you really want is for your partner to be proud therefore by making ‘recognition’ a value, it is less likely to have you feeling deflated if you made £5k a month.
To ensure deflation doesn't occur, my values will be worked on and revised at various stages of my business to check if they are still in line with my future goals and there may be times which signals this revision e.g. if I feel I have lost sense of direction, when I procrastinate or when I have a significant decision to make.
One moment which really stood out is when Nikki set the task for one of us to tell us their 'why' when it came to starting up/running their business in 2 minutes. Mary went up and immediately grabbed all of our attention when she simply began with "So I was on benefits for a while...". Because of the time constraint, Mary knew she had to simply say it how it was and there wasn't time for anything other than the raw facts and expressed a sense of vulnerability yet determination and accomplishment. THIS was the proof that people buy into PEOPLE more than they do any product or service. Although I updated my 'About Debbie Cotti' section a few months ago to make it more personal. This has now inspired me to update it again and I'm also going to have my story printed and clearly visible in the studio for everyone to see! I understand that even within a saturated market, I am confident that Bella Lash Brow has a very bright future because there is only one ME and I'm proud of my unique story which I'm excited to share with the world :)
It was then time for Self-Care and a topic I had been looking forward to since enrolling on the course. Well-being and the prevention of burn out is one of the most important things for entrepreneurs to understand in order to maintain our physical, mental and emotional health so we can take on work and responsibilities. Since making the move at the start of the year, I haven’t looked after myself much at all. Working 7 days a week can of course be extremely tiring and one statement that really stood out for me was that I needed to ‘protect my passion’. Any human being who does anything they love for too long will eventually become disengaged and not as passionate as when they started so it was good to be reminded of this.
So as well as exercising, eating right and sleeping well, great practice of self care includes looking after the spiritual, the emotional, the mental and the physical YOU. We had 4 posters with these written on them and went around adding our ideas for activities which could help for each poster. We then we all went ‘shopping’ and picked 3 ideas from each poster that we were going to implement. I was really impressed with what we as a group came up with.
We were then asked to write down what ‘the best day’ looks like for us and what ‘the worst day’ looks like to see if we noticed any patterns emerging. These are some of the things I noticed:
Another piece of advice that really stood out for me during this session was that it was 'absolutely fine if not crucial to work ON your business not IN’. THIS perhaps was the most reassuring thing I’ve heard in a really long time. I have always known that although I love what I do, I would be so much more useful outside of my business! Somewhat tricky when you have no employees of course but this is definitely the aim. As important as it is for any business owner to be present and close to their team, the best practice of leadership is to allow others to lead. Nikki explained that the guilt of thinking ‘I can’t leave the salon/shop etc and I must be there for my team’ comes from not recognizing what you have achieved so far, the relentless hours you have put in and also the fact that you have more to offer the business which needs you to be physically out of the business first.
It was only right we ended the class with a Yoga session led by Yoga teacher/entrepreneur Meg Jackson. I had done Yoga regularly whist living in China but haven’t done much since being back. I often do a quick meditation in the morning with not much physical activity but which I now understand is all part of Yoga. Allowing your body to communicate with your brain is essential to finding that inner peace. Steady breathing and connecting with your inner self has been found to be one of the daily habits of many successful entrepreneurs and reminded me how important it is to make this a daily habit even if it's just taking 2 minutes in the middle of my day to just breathe!
This was the part of the workshop called She Says, a segment dedicated to entrepreneurs coming in and sharing their story just as we had the panel of inspiring women at the last workshop. Meg wore a top that read ‘Do Yoga. Eat Pizza. Be Happy’, had tattoos on her arms and was so funny and quirky. Of course, this is not what the stereotypical Yoga teacher looks like and was exactly what made me love her even more and she was ken to share her story with us after the Yoga session. Meg has a business called Real Life Yoga after realizing that Yoga wasn’t about being skinny and extremely flexible and waking up at the crack of dawn but it was about being compassionate and appreciating life. This ability to train your mind, body and soul to be calm and collected really does filter into how you live your life and more importantly how you run your business. I don't think I'll be signing up to any Yoga classes just yet but currently on Day 2 of 30 Days Of Yoga with Adriene and feeling great! I'm SO looking forward to the next few months and getting so much closer to truly living my dreams :)
*If anybody needs any help or advice with any of the topics in this blog or you simply want to have a chat and discuss some of these things further please don't hesitate to get in touch - 07852105241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org