Last night, I spoke at a women's entrepreneurial night run by Bossy London. It was loads of fun and I shared the stage with some incredibly inspiring ladies.
I ended my talk on these 7 tips that cancer taught me about running my own business.
1. Start Small
Often when I was riding first class on the cancer train, I would wake up and be completely overwhelmed. Everything seemed impossible. I just wanted to put my life in the ‘too hard basket’ and try again next week. After a while, I figured I needed to treat my brain like a small child and only concentrate on the immediate tasks at hand - like finding my socks, going to lunch or having the third nap of the day. I’d start small and not think of the huge, enormous picture.
This is the same for starting your own business – a mission that can also feel incredibly overwhelming. Start small by buying a domain name, registering for an Instagram account or signing up for a Wix free trial. This will create momentum and there’s no turning back once you’ve started!
2. Tell the world.
When you’re on a "health holiday" from your standard 9-5 like I was – there are suddenly no deadlines or scheduled meetings in your diary. There’s no consequences if you decide you need to watch the first three series of Friends. And as a creative, I’m useless without a deadline. I can faff and procrastinate like no other. And Friends will never get old!
So a trick I was taught by the oh-so-clever Ms. Marie Forleo, was to make yourself accountable by telling everyone in your phone book what you're trying to achieve. Tell your friends, your family, your year three art teacher, and those half dead house plants. It’s going to be kinda embarrassing if next time you catch up you don’t have an update on your progress. These check-ins became a type of deadline and a way to keep me moving.
When I was facing cancer: the sequel – I was newly single and was missing that extra layer of support. I remember writing a message in my gal pals telling them I was a bit shit scared and would need some help. No doubt these girls were always going to rally around me, but because I asked for help, they went above and beyond and I never felt alone.
So if you’ve hit a wall you can't seem to get past, find someone with the answer. Shoot them an email asking them to coffee. Maybe they have a similar business or it's someone you’ve found on Linked-In. People aren’t assholes and the majority of people like coffee/wine and talking about themselves. So reach out and ask – the worst that can happen is they’ll say no.
4. Find your people
The most wonderful type of support I got while I was sick was from my chemo buddies. These girls were having similar treatment and they just got it. They knew about being bald, sore veins and pity stares in the supermarket.
It’s exactly the same when you’re running your own business. Find your tribe. Find the people that are also stressing about writing blogs, figuring out Google Adwords, or mastering Quickbooks. They will be the ones that can encourage, inspire and properly help you because they will completely understand.
Attend events like Bossy London, League of Extraordinary Women, Creative Women's Circle, Project SHE, She Says, or read blogs and mags like She Can, She Did, Iris Lillian, Lady Startups, Collective Hub, Frankie Magazine and Design Files.
Go on, go put that lovely new t-shirt on and make some friends!
5. For the love of it
After the big C, my whole life perspective changed and I realised that billboards, MRECs and TV ads were not giving me that same spring in my step. I wanted to do something with heart – something creative, colourful but most importantly, something that would help other people.
If you choose to start a business, you need to LOVE IT. You need to believe in it 110%. It's that passion that will get you through the days that are incredibly boring and make you want to shut up shop and move permanently to the pub. It's also that passion that will make you want to tell the world about your brand. It will mean you have a something to say - a story. And let's admit it - we're all just giant, ugly children that will forever love story time.
6. Find the silver lining
SHIT WILL HAPPEN! Life will throw you under the bus every now and again. Being forced on the cancer train was certainly not part of my life plan! But after the initial shock – dusted myself off, found a silver lining and made a new plan. I figured out how I was going to make the situation work for me. This was my opportunity to look after my body, spend more time with the human beings I loved and give Bravery Co. space to grow.
So stay flexible and adaptable, and be ready to let go of old ideas and plans in order to problem solve your way out of the shit.
7. Look after yourself – you only get one body.
Well, I learnt this the hard way, didn’t I!
I’m now more in tune with my body and can recognise when I’m getting stressed out or run down. I've learnt that a long walk in some of that outside air will always calm my irrational and chaotic brain. And that sometimes going to bed early and leaving the pile of work, is better than stressing and staying up all night. I leant to be kind to myself because your health is important, and if you’re lucky, there will always be tomorrow.
Here are some photos from the Bossy event. If you'd like to meet a whole load of strong, inspirational and determined people who are getting shit done - make sure you get a ticket to the next event.
The Bravery Co. pop up shop at the event
Stacey Collins (Bossy founder), Emily Somers, Sarah Southern (MC), Elissa Collins (Speaker), Sophie Maddison (Bossy Founder)
Turban tutorial time!
The Kreativ House space in Hackney
and 10% goes to curing cancer