We recently had the opportunity to hear Penina Shepherd, Founder and Director of Acumen Business Law, speak at the WayFinder Woman Conference and share her top business tips. Having started out on our own as Freelance Communications Consultants, hearing Penina talk about her experience of going from zero clients to now leading one of the top 50 ground breaking and innovative law firms in the UK and Europe (Financial Times), couldn’t have come at a better time.
During her talk, Penina revealed her top tips for starting and running a successful business. We found them useful and think they apply to anyone in the world of work, whether self-employed or employed. Here they are…
- Pursue your passion – if you’re really passionate about something, face your fears and go for it. After you’ve asked “what’s the worst that could happen” and recognised that it’s not that bad, ask yourself “what’s the best that could happen.” The answers to this second question tend to be much more fun. This is the process Charlotte and I went through before going it alone…and we’re both very glad we have. We’re passionate about helping our clients grow their businesses, and we hope to grow our own businesses too. But, if not, it’ll be back to agency life for us, which really wouldn’t be that bad!
- Give (without calculating what you’re going to get in return) – Penina was quick to clarify that this doesn’t mean giving away services for free, because it’s not a sustainable business model. For us, this often means going the extra mile for our clients. We love to do a good job for our clients and as a result we always tend to give a bit more than we charge for!
- Overestimate yourself – It’s incredibly easy, especially when starting your own business, to worry about the things that you’re not the greatest at. Rather than dwelling on these things, try to focus on the things you are great at. This isn’t about being arrogant. Instead, for us for example, it’s about recognising where we can each add value for our clients and working on excelling in these areas, but also having the courage to identify where we might need a bit of help. One of the reasons Charlotte and I love working together on projects, as well as with other talented freelancers, is that we all have different skills. We’re stronger together and can provide a really excellent service for our clients as a result.
- Take full responsibility – people rarely take responsibility for things that happen to them. By recognising that you are where you are because of the choices you have made, you understand that your future is in your own hands. One example Penina provided, that applies to both Charlotte and me, was “I really wanted to set up a business, but I have children and I need a steady income.” This is a very valid reason and one worry we both had to overcome. But, now that we are out of the starting gates we’re both really excited about the freedom it has given us. It means that everything we do is up to us, which can be scary at times but is also incredibly exciting. Taking away the safety mat means that we have to make it work, and that means making our clients happy so they stay with us and recommend us to their contacts.
- Have a positive attitude – Penina referenced a fantastic Henry Ford quote: “If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right”. This is a really important one for us. If you dwell on the negative you’ll be in the wrong place mentally to seek out new positive opportunities. Think positively and you’ll attract more positivity…no brainer.
- Be extraordinary, be remarkable – Part of our job is helping our clients identify what makes them remarkable, and we always encourage our clients to do something worth remarking on. This means looking at new ways we can better support our clients by constantly improving our industry knowledge and skills. This is what makes us remarkable – we won’t offer you the same old marketing solutions. Instead, we look at your business as a whole and identify the best ways to help support your growth objectives.
- Never give up – keep your vision in mind and enjoy the ride!