So there goes another month! We’re finding that we are just getting busier and busier - far more than we imagined at the creation of Nostara.
It’s made us pause for thought on what things have helped grow the business so much quicker than we’d envisaged.
We’ve met so many budding business owners, keen for some tips, that we thought a few pointers might be useful. We’re not experts, by any stretch, but we’ve managed to grow organically - to walk before we tried to run, and that’s worked for us. We thought we might write about a different tip in different blogs, to help give some guidance. But, bear in mind that these pointers are not just useful for those of you with business goals. The principles can be applied on a personal level too.
Have you got a network?
So what’s helped our business? One key thing was our decision to go out networking. Totally unfamiliar to both of us in our previous careers, but actually a good fit for us (we’re both naturally chatty!), this has had an immense impact on the presence and exposure of our brand.
For you, this might be about connecting more with the playground mums, WI, book club or, as for us, a networking group.
Why? First of all - outreach. It was one of the first decisions we made that increased our outreach further than our lovely friends and family! Although we started with an online shop nobody knew of our existence, so our Google searches created few leads. We knew we needed to get out into the ‘real world’ and this was our first step. For us and our product, we’ve found that women’s networking groups have made a huge positive difference, on many levels. We tried out a mixed group, but found that the fit just didn’t work quite as well.
What are the benefits?
There are many things our fellow networkers gain from being part of the groups. Here are the highlights:
A lot of female entrepreneurs start out on their own. It can be a lonely business! Luckily, we have each other to bounce off of, to celebrate and commiserate with and to generally share the load.
For those flying solo, it’s not always so easy. The networks provide a supportive environment in which to ask for advice - there’s such a wealth of experience there ready to be tapped. Plus, once relationships are forged, it’s a safe place to ask those ‘silly’ questions and get a frank and honest reply. The other women have been where you are, juggling the same demands as you, and are still going - so that’s a fabulous resource to have.
All the other networkers are walking-talking rolodexes, with a mass of people they’ve met. Even when you can’t imagine there will be any crossover with your interests, you’ll be surprised what comes up when you make a connection.
We think the right attitude is to go in thinking what can you offer them and karma (or whatever other force) will do the rest. People will remember when you’ve gone above and beyond for them and its human nature to want to replay that kindness. You’ll be the first person to pop into their mind when an opportunity comes up.
Don’t think you have anything to offer? How about your best friend who’s a book keeper/film maker/solicitor? Your stay at home mum friend with toddlers might be the perfect market research person for your fellow networker - you never know what someone else is seeking and how you can help, until you get talking… This is a great way to get quality leads, or at the very least to raise your profile, help build your reputation, your credibility and enable your business to thrive.
You can’t be an expert at everything, and you can’t do everything yourself.
At the networking events you’ll probably meet someone with whatever skill you need - from legal and accountancy advice, to social media or wellbeing tips. As your business grows you may need to outsource certain tasks and you’ll already have a base of trusted people who can step up to the job in hand. Otherwise, you might just need one off tips and advice - and you’ll know an expert whose advice you can rely on.
We’ve been exceptionally lucky to have met such supportive ladies who have become addicted (we’re not joking!) to our products. They have become customers and are the best advocates and champions of our brand - and for that we’re exceptionally grateful.
Increase your skills
Many networking groups also provide workshops and dedicated presentations aimed at increasing your skills - relevant for both business and life in general .
You’ll end up being able to talk to anyone and you’ll hone your ‘elevator pitch’ – that crucial 3 minute distillation of what your business is all about and what you’re seeking. Your confidence will increase and, of course, you’ll get Dragon’s Den ready!
As you evolve, you’ll develop from being ‘the newbie’ to ‘the mentor’ and the satisfaction of helping others is immeasurable.
And last, but definitely not least, is friendship. We’ve met some fabulous women who, we hope, will be friends for life. Invigorating our lives and businesses, offering a different perspective and always being there - Whoop whoop!
What to do?
Some networking groups you can just dip into, others require joining as a member. Check it out and see where it leads...
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your business cards and get chatting!