Four essential tips for new businesses starting out

It takes perseverance to remain motivated, especially when progress is slow.

Some of you may know that this year I started my own business – to develop absorbent washable leakproof underwear for pee, periods and perspiration.

It has been an exciting yet tumultuous rollercoaster. Today I wanted to share with you my four essential tips for those who are just starting out.

  1. Perseverance is key!

It takes a lot of motivation to dedicatedly work for yourself day in a day out. Particularly in the early days you must be the ‘master of all trades’ (the CEO and decision-maker, the strategist, the product designer, the investor, the marketer, the logistics expert and so on). Some tasks are easier than others. But when things get tricky it is hard to keep slogging away at it.

I have goals to keep me on track – work wise. But what keeps me – pushing forward – is a verbalised aspiration (that I’m committed to). You see, I found that I needed to be clear about what I wanted to achieve, and by when, because my family kept asking me when I was going back to work. So here it is: my aim is to give the business two years to break-even and three years to make a viable profit.

In addition to this, I let my family know what my boundaries are, to protect myself from risk. That is, when I have spent a certain level of funding, without any profit then I would stop and go back to full time work.

Three years to achieve my first big milestone is long enough for me to think “I’m in this for the long term”, which keeps me jumping over the short-term hurdles.

  1. Clarity is essential.

I never realised just how hard it would be to find the right specially fabrics for moisture wicking, absorbency, comfort and odour reduction.

It’s been a hard learning curve. My one piece of advice for dealing with any type of suppliers, is to be as specific as possible with what you want. If that means you must ask a million questions first to better understand the lay of the land. Then ask away. There is no harm in asking. I like to lay out my requirements in clear tables, or under specific headings. I then number each question and answer. I give my emails informative subject lines so that I can easily keep track of information down the track. But importantly, I never let myself stay in a position of doubt. I clarify immediately when uncertain.

  1. The 80/20 rule is beyond helpful.

It’s easy to waste time perfecting certain elements when it’s your own business. But taking the approach, where you keep working on something because you don’t want to risk getting it wrong, will slow you down unnecessarily. Try to accept that things will evolve rather than be perfect the first time. When you start to spend too much time on a task – STOP immediately and put some time restrictions in place. Because when you think of the time that people will actually spend looking at it, it’s just not worth your valuable and limited time. This is why it is so important that new businesses land a minimum viable product as the primary goal. Because perfection is impossible to achieve, whereas trial and error keeps you moving forward.

  1. Build a following.

As you start your business you will meet many people who will help you or take an interest in what you are doing. Make sure you add their email address to your contacts database and grow this list as you progress your business.  

It’s important to nurture this group by keeping in regular contact. One way I do this is to send out a monthly newsletter that provides a simple update on my progress and some interesting tidbits. It doesn’t matter how you keep in touch but just that you do. Your early tribe are your greatest supporters. Mine mean the world to me and I cherish their feedback and support.

If you are keen to show a fellow start-up support, I would love it if you could like or follow my facebook or Instagram page. Just go to:

Thanks for reading! Catch you next time.

Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 3

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series. Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1 and Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2

Characteristic three:  Confident communication skills

One way of building credibility is being able to clearly articulate your views within a group situation. Below are six key components that will help you succeed in doing this:

  1. Preparation and progress

Prepare before going into a meeting. Know what the key points are that you want to make and actively listen for the correct time to contribute

Know what you want to achieve before you begin

Always ensure action points are taken and verbalised to the group – to ensure everyone is on the same page. If no actions are taken – then why are you meeting?

  1. Acknowledgement

Acknowledge other people’s contributions. This will build comradery, team spirit and motivation.

  1. Separate yourself from the product

This is a great skill to possess! In order to improve a product or service, it is important that it adequately meets the needs of the intended audience. In order for that to occur the feedback of others is crucial.

It’s essential that you don’t take that feedback personally. No person or product is perfect. Because everyone is different, others can add additional and alternative elements that could improve the product or service. It’s not imperative to take all feedback on-board– just make sure that the feedback is taken on appreciatively. 

  1. Effective communication is enhanced by active listening

Active listening helps us learn more before coming to conclusions. Its importance cannot be underestimated.

  1. Be heard and understood

Your stance and tone can make a huge difference when communicating effectively. Never slouch or mumble. If you are scared in anyway – it’s important that you take a moment to JUST SLOW DOWN. Slow down your speech, slow down your breathing, and let this ‘slowness’ steady your mind. So that you can clearly articulate your points. Depending on the situation, you may need to repeat your point in different ways in different meetings, but the important part is that you ARE contributing.

there is no point in complaining after the meeting if you are not happy with the outcome if you have not spoken up when you had a chance to. Don’t quietly tell a colleague sitting next to you your viewpoint. Have confidence to share your thoughts with the wider group.  

  1. Communication effectiveness is enhanced by how to develop your documents

Ensure documents are simple and to the point.

Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1

How being more positive and valuing yourself can make you more successful

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series.  Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2

Characteristic 1:  Positive attitude

The most important characteristic that has always done me extremely well in my career, and arguably  a key promotable asset – is my positive and proactive approach. The reason this is vital to leadership is that is inspires others.  

The trick to retaining a positive attitude and approach come by way of five vital elements.

  1. I retain two distinctly different, but very intertwined, outlooks. Quite simply – I choose to remain grateful and optimistic in life and in my daily activities.

    Happiness is contagious! When I smile and be positive – others are too.
  1. A key enemy to positivity and creativity is self-doubt. I squash self-doubt when it starts to rear its ugly head. Because it adds no value.
  1. I don’t believe that I have been successful due to luck. Instead I have actively pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I make opportunities present themselves by being proactive, agile in the face of change, and by putting my hand up for new tasks in order to learn more.
  1. Being able to value your own worth and believe in yourself is also vital! As this provides the confidence in your ability to learn how to do something.
  1. Lastly, I believe that I control my own life. If I am unhappy then it is my responsibility to change something. Do not wait for circumstance, or others, to change your life for you. Make yourself responsible for your own happiness today!