WIB Expo 1024×150

Caroline:
Welcome to Women in Business Expo here on Key Women in Business Radio with me, Caroline Carr, your host! Today I’m really excited to be talking to our very own Christie Day, who is the Event Director on the show and Christie has got some amazing insight and tips for people who are really considering starting a business. So, Christie, hi and welcome to the show!

Christie:
Hi Caroline, thanks for having me!

Caroline:
So, Christie, having an idea for a business is great but I guess there is so much more beyond having the idea and how you make it successful. Can you first of all just give us an overview of some tips you might offer to support someone who is thinking of starting their own business?

Christie:
Sure. Obviously we all strive for that great idea and at the right time which is key to launching an event but I don’t think that people should put too much pressure on themselves if they haven’t found or thought of that great business idea. There are other ways that you can become a business owner without having your own business idea – so, particularly starting a franchise business is a way to be a business leader. I think for women especially, it offers flexibility, support and it is a little less risky because it is probably going to be working with an established brand which has already made it a success and which can offer a lot of support to female business owners.

Caroline:
Is that quite expensive – to get into a franchise?

Christie:
There are different cost points according to your budget. We do have, and especially at the event, we have been speaking to lenders who do offer funding – part funding – if you need it so it doesn’t have to be that expensive and you could go for a more of an entry-level cost price franchise.

Caroline:
Okay great – so not so scary! You’re not looking for that ‘Number 1 Big Idea’; you could actually just start your own business taking on board someone who is a trusted person who has done it before you.

Christie:
Definitely and I think that if it is something that you are passionate about, that will come through in anything you do. Finding something that you want to explore is the first step, I’d say.

Caroline:
Okay. So you have taken that first step… What about you as a person? How should you go about assessing your strengths and what are your key things to help you drive the business?

Christie:
Sure. I think you need to be extremely honest with yourself and, like you said, identify your skill set and then hire the right people who offer a different skill set so you have different talents within a team. Also, looking after your employees is number one; as Richard Branson always says ‘if you look after your employees, they will look after your clients’.

It’s about not trying to do everything yourself but putting everyone in the right roles to make you shine as a whole.

Caroline:
What about your overall personality? What sort of personality do you think you should have if you are trying to set up your business?

Christie:
I think you need to be ambitious, driven and confident. I think to be confident is probably the one skill or trait that I think really shines through. Don’t be afraid to fail because you will learn from those mistakes. Just go in there, all guns blazing, full of confidence and, with the power of networking, I think is quite key as well. By listening to other like-minded people, sharing ideas and inspiration and just go for it!

Caroline:
So say you do have an idea…  you’ve assessed it is the rights skills for you; you’ve possibly not thought about franchising as you’ve got an idea that you want to really spin out, what kind of research do you need to do to really validate whether or not your idea is going to work?

Christie:
I think research is key. I think you need to attend industry events to really see what the market is discussing. Competitors, USPs of the industry and do a “SWOT” analysis – look at the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities and threats of a business. Making yourself very visible and attending all competing events is a really good start to first finding out about your research.

Caroline:
As well as trade events, is there anything locally that people could go to in order to do their research?

Christie:
Yes – there’s lots of groups you could join locally: you can speak to councils and see what business support they offer. I know we are working with Enterprise M3 who are offering support to local businesses. It’s really good to get tips from them.

Caroline:
Thinking then about your plan and your goals… you’ve got your idea and you’ve done your research. What do you need to get down on paper in terms of a strategy and a plan?

Christie:
I think you do need an overall business plan for all your year’s goals and achievements. Then, setting up a different plan for each department – so a marketing, social and digital strategy as well as a sales strategy. Have those monthly targets and make sure you keep on top of things.

Caroline:
And at what stage of this plan do you need to present that, possibly to the bank, if you are looking for funding for example?

Christie:
I think that the business plan needs to be set in place before you even launch. So, before you go to market, you should really have your research all lined up; your strategy, your business plan, potential staff that you are going to be working with, any partners and associations you might be wanting to have on board to promote your business… everything set in stone so that once you have approval on a loan that you can go straight to market and start implementing the plan.

Caroline:
I hear that no matter what business you are in, whatever route you go down, actually having a really strong digital presence these days is really key. For someone who is maybe not so up on digital skills, are there any resources you would recommend?

Christie:
Absolutely. There are some media partners that we’re working with, such as Digital Mums, who offer insight on how to get you up to speed with the technology world. Currently if you’ve been out of the workplace for some time you might need help to find out how to use LinkedIn and Instagram, Facebook and Twitter on a basic level but to be visible, socially and online. There are associations and companies that provide that training and workshops to support women.  

Caroline:
So something not to be afraid of but to embrace, really.

Christie:
Absolutely!

Caroline:
I know for me, when I set up my own business about six years ago, the really big thing for me was the flexibility. So, as a mum and a woman running my own business, flexibility has been key to be able to be my own boss to be able to do that. Do you think that it is really important to set your parameters because otherwise you can get sucked into running your own business and work 24 hours a day?

Christie:
I think work/life balance is really key for all of us, especially if you have children. You want to be able to spend time with your family and be that great mother but you can also be a businesswoman. You don’t just have to stick into one role and one box. You can do it all but it is with your limitations and making sure that you are putting in the right hours: “I’m going to set aside 20 hours a week for work and this will fit in around the school run/family commitments” and keeping that discipline. It’s about turning off as well: when you do have your dinner time or events that you attend with your family at the weekend, turn your phone off. You’ve committed to those hours and make sure that balance is there.

Caroline:
Will you be reminding me of that the next time I’m sat at my desk?!

Christie:
Of course I will!

Caroline:
It’s always good to be reminded of why you set it up in the first place…Christie, I know for someone who is starting a new business, it’s quite a daunting thing. So, if they were to come along to Women in Business Expo on 16-17 October, what will they get from coming to the show? Talk us through from start to finish what someone who is thinking of starting a business will take away.

Christie:
Coming to the event will, first of all, be free to park and attend. If you do have children, there will be a free creche as well because we want to give women the opportunity and time to focus on themselves to get what they’re trying to achieve by attending the event.

So, when you walk in the door, there is a ‘plan your day service’. You will be met by a consultant and they will ask you ‘what are you here to see’. They’re looking to understand what you want so that, for example, if you are wanting to understand a digital strategy, they will guide you to right seminars, workshops or the right companies who offer training, coaching and services to support your business needs. Anything you can possibly think of to start a business from accounting to PR, to marketing, to tax… anything that helps set up a business – the business part of the event will be offering those products, services, guidance and tips.

Caroline:
I understand there is a theatre at the event?

Christie:
Yes, it’s a dedicated Women in Business theatre where, if you wish to, you will be listening to inspirational speakers but more about tips on each element of running a business.

Caroline:
Great, it sounds fantastic! It’s been absolutely brilliant. The overall thing is it’s about the passion – go for it! Have the idea, believe in it and probably the most important is don’t be afraid to make mistakes but make sure you learn from those mistakes!

Christie:
Absolutely – I think you’ve summarised it really well Caroline. Also the power of networking is also really key in this age digitally and physically these days. Being able to have that confidence in being able to see people doing it themselves and learning from each other.

Caroline:
That’s great – thank you so much Christie, you’ve given us some really useful insights. Thank you! Join us next time on Women in Business Expo here on Key Women in Business Radio.

KWIB App 1024×150

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here