I feel good. I feel stupid. I feel good. I feel stupid. I fall over. I pick myself up. I fall over. I pick myself up. This can be how it is in a day, a month, a year when you are growing a food and drink business. Does it ever get easier to build a business and to chase your dream?
What I know is I wouldn’t have it any other way because my dream is so powerful it won’t let me do anything other than follow it. My mission is to see women building food & drink businesses and doing so whilst paying themselves a fair wage. I want to see them go from surviving to thriving #passionandprosperity. I want to see widespread recognition for creatives.
Females in Food is still young. I interviewed Kyla Kirkpatrick, founder & CEO of Champagne Dame and Emperor Champagne recently and she described the first three years of business like parenting a child – you just need to stay focused on nurturing, caring and protecting it. Your child is still so young and can’t grow without you. Doesn’t that make sense? In my mind’s eye as she said it, I pictured it – my baby, caring for it, feeding it, getting to know what it needed to expand and interpreting the sounds and noises it made before it really had words to speak on its own.
How can something you want more than life itself be as hard as it is? Why do I feel so vulnerable to the glare of ‘other parents’ who might scoff at the way I do it? Or the threat of the ‘jealous parents’ whose kid isn’t as pretty or as capable as mine?
Like parenting, many people before me have built businesses and some I watch intently. Many I no longer notice. Most are led by older white males. That’s okay but I don’t really relate to them. I want to see younger people, women, heart-centred people lead businesses and it is happening. Actually if I was to be totally honest, I want to see middle aged women who’ve had a career before they launched their business because that’s my story. I had a successful career sitting at the leadership table of many multinational and small-to-medium enterprises but I always had a dream to develop my own.
I have a business brain. I understand how to plan, network and implement but the dark side is not a business problem, it’s a mind-set problem. It’s believing my business, my baby, can be as wonderful, as successful, as accomplished as all the other children when it grows up. That it gets recognised, that people want to follow it, that people join with it and buy it because its personality, its voice resonates with theirs.
I often talk to my coaching clients about mind set. I detect ‘eye rolls’ when I speak of mindset initially, until they’ve been with me for a few weeks and the penny drops. Something challenging happens. Something that has nothing to do with the business plan, the marketing plan or the growth strategy they hired me for. But yet it has everything to do with those three things plus more.
What mindset is, is everything. It encircles everything we do.
Anyone can teach you how to write a business or marketing plan but not everyone can support you to learn why you need to write one and then enable you to actually do it on your own. That’s different. That takes someone who has done it before and understands that you bring your whole self to the table when building a business. Like parenting.
It’s someone who has done the hard personal development work alongside years of business experience. I have done both and they complement one another beautifully.
The difference between an average business owner and a great one is the great business person keeps going in the face of adversity. Has resilience and knows how to recalibrate after knock backs. Everyone experiences knock backs. Some of my best sales have been after I’ve got a no because I’m so hungry to reach my goal to enable my vision that I just look at how to approach it differently, and it’s in the knowing ‘to look at it differently’ that the resilient mind resides.
What I do know to be true is that I cannot do this alone. Gone are my young days of thinking I don’t need anyone else. Wrong wrong wrong. I do. I need a supportive partner or people around me. I need people that I can turn to who support me to reach my goals. I need a network to inspire me and to lean on, I need a guide who has my absolute best interests at heart and not motivated by a self serving goal of their own. This is rare to find especially in food and drink. I don’t know many people who have done the work, the real work of business and the equally challenging task of developing a resilient mind and consciousness.
The number one reason small businesses and entrepreneurs fail is that they do not have a support network cheering you on. Yes there can be challenges with cash flow, with strategy, with staff but overall it’s being out there doing it all alone. How can you be the master of everything you need for your business to thrive?
Have you heard that saying, it’s important to “be the dumbest person in the room”? Play to your strengths and leverage the expertise of others.
As women in business we need each other to succeed.
It’s so vitally important to have the support of role models who’ve done it before. Those who might not know all the answers but ask the right questions. Equally it is important to feel comfortable to ask questions.
For me, Females in Food is my greatest treasure because I love seeing the community grow to enable one another. I love the guidance we provide in the one place, the access to experts, the access to a buoyant and safe community and for the camaraderie that comes from being part of a community that’s got heart and is really going places and one that is willing to give a sister a leg up.
Don’t be a loner in business, it just doesn’t work. You must be part of something bigger.
As human beings we are wired for connection and to be understood. Let us do it together and create even greater opportunities for those who are following their passion because there’d be nothing more satisfying for me than to see the women in the food and drinks industry follow their heart and prosper.