There She Goes
Last week I spent the evening at General Assembly listening to four female founders. They shared their experiences of learning lead while building their empires.
Natasha Atiwari, founder of Elevare, a full services education advisory firm.
Adela Hussain, founder of Style Lyrical, providing handpicked personal style delivered to you.
Anisah Osman Britton, founder of 23 Code Street, a coding school empowering women in the UK and supporting women to code in India.
Emma Sexton, Founder of Make Your Words Work, a visual design company.
The four women spanned different sectors, all arriving at their current point via different routes, showing there is no right or wrong way to get there.
3 Take away points
HAVE A VISION
This was the main one that stuck with me. Have a vision not only for your business but also for your life. Ask yourself some big questions before you get going to determine not only where you see yourself and your business in the long run but what you want your life to look like.
How big do you want your business to be?
What are your company values?
What kind of office/ work environment do you want to encourage?
What kind of lifestyle do you want?
How many hours do you want to work?
What kind of quality of life do you want?
Hearing this helped me focus my mind about where I see my own business taking me. What do I want out of it and what do I want for myself. With this vision in mind it is easier to work backwards and plan towards that future.
ACCOUNTABILITY BUDDY We all have to-do lists; hell, I have to-do lists of to-do lists. But without someone holding me to them they can be a waste of time. All the speakers gave an example of someone or something that holds them accountable to get tasks crossed off the list.
Whether it was telling their mum about a key job or using Evernote to schedule tasks and reminders each day. Adela offered the example of an accountability buddy, someone she emails at the start of each week with her to-do list. Then at the end of the week they check in for an update on the list. I loved this idea, not only does it make the bonds of friendship stronger but it forces you to get things done.
Another key point was the importance of writing life and work lists, creating work and life goals to achieve each week. Whether it is going to a yoga class, meeting a friend for a drink or watching *one* episode of something on Netflix. It is important to ensure that you do something for yourself to avoid burnout.
THE THIRD YOU
Something that doesn’t come naturally to me is expressing how good my skills are. Even writing that sentence was uncomfortable. There is something innately female in this issue. That women are geared to not feel confident in openly speaking about their skills, in case it may seem like bragging or arrogance. However, without saying how good you are who will ever know.
Of course not all women are like this and I marvel at those who don’t limit themselves in this way. It was interesting hearing Anisah Osman Britton take on this. She said in early networking situations she would talk about her services and skills in the third person. This way disconnecting the praise from herself. She would say “So and so says this [about my service]” or “This client said this when we worked together…”
This solution may not be for everyone but I found it helpful. It made me realise client testimonials are not only important for building trust for new clients, but also in developing your own sense of confidence in what you do, which can be hard for some of us at the start.
To sum it up
To say it was inspiring, a word that has lost all meaning through overuse is an understatement. Yes it was motivating, and encouraging and stimulating, but more than anything it was relatable. Starting a business is hard and hearing the stories and wisdom from these women made me feel less alone in all of it.
Watch the whole thing on the General Assembly Facebook page.