The She Series is a regular series of events to inspire females in the Escape the City community. ‘Starting A Business That Works For You’ brought together a varied group of interesting women eager to share their stories and learn from one another.
Defining and launching your idea
Adele, our very own Escape Education Director, kicked the evening off with a nugget of start-up wisdom all aspiring business owners need to get their heads around. It’s easy to get excited and distracted by your big vision for whatever it is you hope to create, however, entrepreneurs often get stuck at this stage.
Your ideas seem so huge and your goals so unattainable that you can end up spinning your wheels needlessly writing and refining a lengthly business plan or creating a beautiful website before you have even properly tested the viability of your idea.
Adele recommended focusing all your early efforts on winning your first customer. Once you have one customer it’s much easier to then try to get your next ten customers, and after you’ve hit that milestone it’s that much simpler to scale further to win your next 100 customers, and so on.
We also watched a great video clip of author Simon Sinek talking about ‘The Golden Circle’. His explanation of how brands win customer loyalty is really interesting and turns conventional wisdom about effectively market your product to win the hearts and minds of your target consumers on it’s head.
The whole group then took some time out to brainstorm the companies and brands they love and, crucially, consider WHY it is they are fans and followers of those businesses. Answering questions like these can really help point you in the right direction when you’re deciding what to create and how to build it.
Create something of value to yourself and others
Later, we heard from two panellists with very different stories to tell about their personal journey creating lives they love doing work that has meaning and true value on their terms.
Andrea Paltzer founded the Earth Education Project a UK registered charity focused on empowering women in Nicaragua with education and income opportunities through teaching them skills around producing recycled paper-based products. Through this she has created a brand called Chureca Chic which makes jewellery predominantly out of recycled paper which is then sold in and outside of Nicaragua.
Through these sales the charity aims to become self-funding as a social enterprise. Andrea inspired our audience with her wisdom gleaned from 4 years working passionately for a cause she believes in.
We learned from Andrea about the way projects and ideas can develop from your initial idea, eventually growing into something quite different and ultimately bigger and bolder in scope than you could have ever initially dared to dream was possible.
Escape to find yourself
Ex-PWC Director Radhika Chadwick walked away from her 20 year City career to found niche consultancy Resonant Strategy, which provides high-value strategic change support to large organisations and government departments.
She is also Trustee of a national charity in the social justice sector and MD of a small renewable energy development company.
It was fascinating to hear Radhika talk about how she truly deepened her self-knowledge once she left behind her corporate career, finally giving herself space to breathe and really figure out who she is and what makes her tick.
Radhika also reflected on whether there is a ‘right age’ to leave the City sparking an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of making the leap at certain stages in your career. One school of thought might support taking the leap when you’re young and less likely to have grown accustomed to the money and status that comes from years in the City.
But there is also a lot to be said for making the most of the years of free education a City career can offer before leaving and taking your knowledge and skills with you, applying them to support your new venture.
How to join your ideal start-up
We rounded off the event with a short talk from Katarina Jones at Startup Institute a great organisation which trains those looking to earn their stripes in the start-up and tech world as employees at growing companies. They help people find jobs they love by aligning passion with the workplace.
You can take a look at Adele’s slides from last night here.
If you would like to come to the next She Series event ‘How To Lean In – A Session For Empowering Women’ you can buy tickets here.
POST WRITTEN BY CELIA
(check out Celia’s blog “Dared, Determined, Done!” about making big career and life changes here)