Dream & Do

Cue The Women’s Collective

Tara SheltonComment
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It’s 2017, and the lineal, corporate ladder career has suffered a serious decline in popularity. In a world of instant gratitude, the ability to create your own business, give yourself a handpicked impressive title and build your empire is no longer a dream, it’s reality. Achievable? Yes. Easy? Hell no.

The down side to this, is cracking a highly saturated market with your original and niche service
or product while simultaneously appearing as though you know exactly what you’re doing.
(Which by the way, can I just say - no one knows what they’re doing! We are all just winging it in some way!)

Cue The Women’s Collective.

A kick arse group of creatives, dreamers, doers, all with our hustling goals firmly in centre view.
TWC was founded by Canberran entrepreneur, Georgia King, who started a nanny agency in
2014 off the back of zero experience and nothing but blind ambition. Realising so much more
went into starting a small business then she realised, she created The Women’s Collective event
as a leg up for all women in business or going into business.

The secret is community and collaboration which is exactly the theme for this year’s start-up
conference, which sees the best in the small business and entrepreneurial community coming
together for a day of workshops, inspiration, and connection.

The Big Conference was born out of a need to be able to rock up somewhere and not need to
prove yourself, or your business, but celebrate your stage where ever you are with likeminded
women! There’s no minimum requirements, no level of accomplishment needed.

The Women’s Collective conference fosters a safe and genuine place where women can
celebrate however big or little their successes are, and be safe enough to be vulnerable to share about what they need to learn more about, and where their areas of growth lie. Not many
conferences nurture such an authentic atmosphere, protected from the over exaggeration of
achievements and boasting within mingling and small talk.

This year we are excited to welcome a team of 7 presenters, and 6 influencers to our stage, to
give you the 411 on everything business related; Coaching, PR + Marketing, Social Media,
Legalities, Accounting and Financial planning, with our team of influencers chatting about their
experiences in business and their top tips for success.

Among the line-up announced so far is Helen Roe: speaker, coach and author of Girl Tribes,
Sheena Ireland: director of local communications agency Specialists in Communications, Gen Y
Network Business Expert: Kata Cser, Alicia Xyrakis: Canberra’s fashion darling and owner of
Rebel Muse, Katie Hodlic: influencer and entrepreneur behind the popular Melbourne and now
Australia wide delivery business; Afternoon Pick Me Up. With so many more announcements still to come!

Above all, this event opens the door to conversation about what it takes to struggle and succeed in small business, recognising all the connections and networking that goes into building up your resource and client pool, and all the sacrifices that go unnoticed in order for you to pursue those dreams. It’s a place where we can be real and raw, but most importantly, thrive.


For more info check our www.thecollectiveco.net

10 Tips to Build your Personal Brand

Tara SheltonComment

Recently Tara was asked to give a talk at a General Assembly event at WeWork Martin Place on how to build your personal brand.

She has written up the points here so you can build your profile to apply for that dream job.

 

1. Design your CV and personalise your cover letter

When companies post a job they get inundated with CV’s. You CV needs to look good at a glance. Invest time in creating a nice word mark for your name and set it out in a clear but designed way that shows off your personal style or perhaps reflects the company you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a luxury fashion job, you could make it really sleek in design and potentially on a black background.

You would be surprised at how many bad cover letters I have received. Remember, your CV is all about you. The cover letter should be more tailored towards the job and the company and why you are a good fit. It needs to be written with personality, be succinct and show that you have carefully researched the company.

 

2. Set up a folio site and blog

I suggest that you set up your own personal website, and this is more important if you are applying for a job where visuals would serve your application, e.g. a designer or events job. There is nothing worse than getting a really large attachment to an email.

Squarespace has some gorgeous web templates and super to use. I also suggest grabbing your name domain name before someone else does!

 

3. Content is king

If you are passionate about new technology and want to score a job in this, start a blog where you write about advances in ai etc. If you have a website, then blogging frequently will improve your google page ranking. It also shows prospective employees that you are committed to staying up to date with the latest trends. Make sure you then distribute these blogs on social media like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter and sites like Medium so they get read and shared!

 

4. Professional photo

Invest in a professional headshot of yourself. Don’t zoom in to a wedding photo that you looked pretty hot in. Also make sure it is professional and not a bikini shot, and it looks like you. If you cut your hair, then make sure it is reflected in your mug shot. Make sure each channel has the same profile pic, your gmail to your Linkedin. This automatically creates a personal brand through consistency.

 

5. Own the first page of Google

It is likely that when you get through the CV stage that the prospective employee will check out your digital footprint and google your name. Own that first page of Google by making sure you have loads of positive content about you on the web. You will have your website and your Linkedin, but a good way to get it going is to submit articles on other publication sites or enter awards and competitions and if you win, you will always be online in this way and this is super positive for your credibility rating.

 

6. Printed leave behind kit

Everyone who has really impressed me at interviews always leaves something behind. Their CV and a business card printed, to a little book of their work. It is great to have something to keep and it shows a large amount of effort which always goes a long way.

 

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7. Give, Give, Ask

We have a sales policy here at Dream & Do to always give, give and then ask. Whether it be content, a little book or a little pressie, it is always good to treat people before you ask something from them. Follow up your interview with a little thank you gift, like a Little Succer!

 

 

 

8. Don’t be afraid to hustle hard

You don’t get what you want in life unless you ask for it. What is the worst that can happen? They say no. Be direct with what you want and take a few risks. For example, if you want to get in touch with someone who you don’t know their email, jump on Linkedin and guess their email address until you get through.

Somebody I know wanted to get their book published so she sent a valentine’s gift to a publisher so it would get through to her, with her book pitch inside. She got the book deal. Be creative to get the attention of those you need.

 

9. Your network = your net worth

It is cliched, but your network really is your net worth and it is not what you know, but who you know! People love referrals, so if you tell people what you are looking for then they can look out for opportunities for you. I have had so many opportunities come to me through my network. Go to loads of networking events and ask questions, this is the fastest way to get noticed. When I was in London launching my gifting brand, Moi Self, I went to a networking event and asked a question and caught one of the panel’s attention. She asked me for a meeting at her office and then offered me investment to launch my range!

 

10. Side hustle or passion project

Having a side hustle or passion project is a great way to be remembered. It shows that you are entrepreneurial, ambitious beyond getting paid at a 9-5. It reflects your personality too. One of our past staff, Amy, just launched a side hustle called Secret Book Stuff. It is a random act of kindness project where she wraps pre loved books and sends a mystery novel out for the cost of purchase. ABC News even picked it up and did a story on her!

 



 

#10 Instagram Hacks - what’s your Instagram saying about your brand?

Tara SheltonComment

Here is a statistic that is going to blow your mind - Instagram has over 600 million users worldwide, 600 MILLION! That is an incredible opportunity to connect with your customers and promote your service or product. The problem with those 600 million users though, your competition. Those 600 million are not just potential customers, but also the business’ directly competing with what you’re offering and unfortunately, they’ve got all the same tricks and tools trying to outsmart your approach and steal away your sales.

Something a lot of people don’t realise is Instagram can make or break their brand and your competitors are there waiting in the wings to nab your customers. You can sink money into your logo, website design, packaging and product, but all that work will go to waste if you don’t have a consistent brand feel on social media. Instagram can act as the initial gateway for a customer discovering your brand and if your feed is off, you’ve lost your customer, as your competition is only a post away.

We’ve been in strategising and designing Instagram accounts for our clients for years now, so we put together some Instagram hacks to help you stand out.

HACK #1: Post original content of your brand, product or marketing collateral. It’s important to show your audience something they haven’t seen before. Regramming content is great, but it has to be strategic and sporadic, if your feed is just a collection of images already seen, you’ll lose your following to your competition.

HACK #2: Research your hashtags. People make the mistake of hashtagging everything and anything they can think of. Multiple and many hashtags are great, but take your time to do the research into which hashtags work for your industry, it’s about being smart and targeted.

HACK #3: Follow your competition and keep a close eye on who is engaging with them. If you’re always seeing the same accounts engage with your competition, why not start engaging with them. Give them a like, follow their account. It’s likely if they’re interested in your competitor, they’ll at least click on over to give your bio a read.

HACK #4: Have a clear Instagram account name that is as close to your brand or business as possible. Don’t try and get creative, it only confuses users and dilutes your brand identity. Remember to always make your profile picture your logo, it’s important to have a clear and strong brand presence.

HACK #5: Post consistently and frequently. We post 1-2 a day depending on the account were managing. Work out the behaviours and habits of your audience and respond to the way they’re engaging with your posts. Experimental initially with timings and caption lengths and create a schedule you know they’ll respond to.

HACK #6: Start tapping! It’s important that you are consistently engaging with your audience. Like their posts, comment on their comments! This goes as well for responding to DM’s and DM Requests. Don’t forget that Instagram is another platform for customer service.

HACK #7: Cross promote your Instagram on your other social media platforms. This not only gives different users the opportunity to engage with your brands across all platforms, but allows you to keep an eagle eye view on your social media as a collective, rather than separate channels.

HACK #8: Tell a story. Don’t think of your feed as separate tiles but as an opportunity to tell your brand's story. Does each post flow on from the next? Do the colours and overall look and feel of the feed reflect the brands identity? If the answer is no then you need to rethink your posting.

HACK #9: Make your analytics your best friend. Instagram’s inbuilt analytics is a great way to see how your account is progressing. You can look at impressions, engagement, follower growth and more. Use this vital information to connect with your audience.

HACK #10: And last but certainly not least, know your tone of voice. So many brands fall into the trap of thinking a brand’s identity is only visual, we can tell you right now it’s not. Work out not only what you’re message is but how it’s going to be communicated? Is your tone of voice funny? Inspirational? Serious? Sarcastic? It’s vital you’re consistent with your audience.

 

Feeling overwhelmed? That’s why we’ve created the Instagram Starter Bundle. The easy, fuss-free way to work out the purpose of your feed, who you’re trying to connect with and how you actually do that to help you connect with your audience and your product or services.

Find out more..

 

Pinterest: Your secret social weapon

Tara SheltonComment
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Most companies take full advantage of the Instagram and Facebook social media platforms for customer engagement and sales generation, yet people seem to discount Pinterest and it’s value for businesses. What business seem to overlook or perhaps don't even realise it that many potential customers use Pinterest to browse products and services, both intentionally and as a way of passing time. Pinterest works as an outlet for people to define their perfect lifestyle, which is a godsend if you're a business trying to target your specific customer. 

Now that's got your attention, its times to make Pinterest for Business your new best friend. Here you'll find the success stories of businesses from Topshop to the Bank of America, BuzzFeed, Elle, Nordstrom and L’Oreal Paris, Sony, Tate and Walgreens. Each story gives you insight in to their success after building a business account on Pinterest and suggestions for a great Pinterest strategy.

Let's take a look at BuzzFeed for example. According to them, Pinterest is their second largest social network referrer and has a much longer lifecycle than other social networks, often driving traffic to posts months after it was originally published. WOWZAS! I think we all want some of that. 

They've got heaps of useful tips on how they've done it, one being to experiment with your pin categories to see what resonates with customers, and then adjust your product/service strategy from those insights gained. 

Topshop is another success story that claim Pinterest drives the most amount of sales (WHAT!?). Their innovative campaign utilising the Pinterest platform generated “55 press stories from mainstream consumer media as well as fashion and tech publications.” 

Like what you're reading? Thought so, we we put together some steps you can take to build a kickarse Pinterest profile. 

STEP 1: Create a business Pinterest account, separate from your personal account

STEP 2: Make 10+ boards with at least 10 pins each. Organise these around topics your audience might be interested in. These boards should show the depth of your brand personality and feature a strong brand voice. Add Pins on a regular basis and experiment with the content pinned to keep people on Pinterest engaged.

STEP 3: Be social! Share 50% of your own content and 50% of content from external sources that link with your brand purpose, values and persona.

STEP 4: Collaborate on relevant group boards to boost engagement.

STEP 5: Interact with other Pinterest users by liking, commenting, sending pins, tagging users, and sending messages. Build personal relationships.

STEP 6: Promote Pinterest boards on your website and other social platforms. Send a dedicated Pinterest email to showcase your boards and encourage following. We recommend you to use Mailchimp for this, to make it look professional.

STEP 7: Drive traffic back to your site with the Save button to increase brand awareness

STEP 8: Automate using a tool called BoardBooster - tells you the average performance of pins to your group boards and show you how yours did.

STEP 9: Pay attention to your Pinterest Analytics to learn what your customers interests are and create a content strategy based on where your brand intersects such as:

    1. What Pins and boards from your profile people love most?

    2. What people like to save from your website?

    3. Who your Pinterest audience is, including their gender, location and other interests?

    4. What devices people use when they’re saving your stuff?

    5. How adding the Save button to your website leads to referral traffic from Pinterest?

 

Does this all seem a bit too hard and you'd prefer someone else to take the wheel? We handle social media so you can focus on the core of your business.

CLICK HERE to get in touch and find out more. 

Dreamer Check-in - Happy Way & Ms Peacock

Tara SheltonComment

We’ve had some pretty incredible clients over the past few years, that’s the joy of working with start-ups and small business, everyone’s got a great story. While we love creativity and design, these stories really help us get out of bed in the morning. What can we say? We’re an empathetic bunch and experiencing the highs and the lows with our clients is an important part of what we do.

With that in mind, we thought we’d check in with a few of our “original dreamers” to see what exciting things they’re up to.

Happy Way's new flavour - Salted Caramel!

Happy Way's new flavour - Salted Caramel!

The Happy Way boys are one of the Dream & Do originals and we’ve seen them do some pretty amazing things. Being in business for just under two years now, the boys have gone from strength to strength and have celebrated some amazing milestones along the way. We’ve been so lucky to be apart of their journey and continue to be, with the boys always coming back to us to conceptualise and design their new flavour packaging, product ranges and visual assets.

Business is absolutely booming for Happy Way sending out over 1000 orders every week (OMG!). The boys saw an opportunity to align with Ashy Bines, a well known fitness personality in Australia, which really saw their company move to new heights. Since then the boys have been focusing on reinvesting back into the business, harnessing the amazing power of Instagram and creating the best possible customer experience.

When asked their favourite part of the journey so far.. “The awesome packaging design and experiencing the excitement/power of eCommerce!” Aww shucks, thanks guys!

Coming to Bowral soon.. 

Coming to Bowral soon.. 

The boys aren’t the only ones kicking goals. Let me introduce you to the incredible Ms Peacock - the maker of the finest chocolate Sydney has to offer. Ms Peacock is another one of our great clients who has been with us from the beginning and we’ve been not only been ridiculously thankful to sample all of her amazing products, but we’ve been so excited to see her brand come to life and grow to where it is now.

Not only has she snagged some coveted press on both Broadsheet and in Donna Hay magazine, but she is opening her first ever store in the beautiful streets of Bowral on the 2nd August 2017 (so soon!). We couldn’t be prouder of what she has achieved and cannot wait to do a Dream Team excursion to congrats her in person.

You can find her at "The Mill" on Bong Bong St in Bowral, and can expect the products that you know and love like the Honeycomb & Bounty Bars and the oh so popular Psuedo Snickers! She'll also be introducing a range of bonbons and a heap of new products as well, some of which will be loaded up on the website, and others kept just for our store.

Our mouths are watering just thinking about it… road trip to Bowral anyone?

Creative Show & Tell - Budgets & Brand Experiences

Tara SheltonComment

INSPO # 1 - The Money Diaries

Being a student, living in a major city in Australia isn't exactly cheap. If you live with your parents you're one of the lucky ones - but imagine juggling having to pay the rent, whilst studying and working to be able to live close enough to uni. Yeah, that's pretty much the status quo. Talking to friends and acquaintances my age, we're all more often than not surprised at the balance of our bank accounts at the end of the week or month. Where does the money go? Does it disappear to this invisible black hole that just eats away at our virtual tap and go pockets? Well that's certainly how it seems. For those who still have the privilege of living at home (like myself) most of my income goes to food, buying lunch daily, or that morning coffee. Sitting down with some friends - we worked out that you could save upwards of $2000/pa by for-going that morning caffeine hit. But even though all these things seem like a couple of dollars here and there, it really adds up if you don't keep track of it. 

So whilst perusing one of my favourite website's Refinery 29, I came across these lovely pieces of journal style journalism called "The Money Diaries". They follow a different person in each feature, from different cities around the world

And for one week, they conscientiously record their daily expenditure in a timestamped snippet of their day. Whether it be Harry Potter themed cocktails in Sydney or Chicken sandwich in New York. Each author details their Occupation, Industry, Age, Location, Annual Salary and Paycheck, Along with Monthly Expenses.

The entries are a fantastic, light-hearted and fun read and has really encouraged me to undertake a similar experiment! Sharing this with the Girls at the office, one of them mentioned an app that was widely used in Sweden where she lived and worked for a number of years. It's called Tink - and it cleverly creates a budget for you by linking with your bank account. The existence and accessibility of platforms like these I think are great for someone just starting out on budgeting and saving - and what better time to start whilst you're on the cusp of adolescence and adulthood! Yay...

Edie - Junior Designer

 

INSPO # 2 - Human experience Design

Connecting with a group on a personal level by identifying with them, their needs, their vexes in non-intrusive but convenient way is what human experience design is all about. It’s about consciously considering each end-to-end touch point that a person may interact with a brand and it’s products/services. It’s about thinking how each of these experiences could provoke a reaction and provide benefit for the end consumer. Of course all initiatives should have a red thread tying back to the brand’s core values, purpose, mission, etc however they don’t need to be represented so literally and can be taken with an innovative approach.

Design Thinking urges brands to shift their mentality away from a “feature first” to “human first”. This human-centered approach to problem solving involves speaking directly to the target audience and tapping into their insights, rather than blindly making assumptions. It also encourages you to hit the streets and walk in the shoes of the person you’re trying to reach to discover unexpected opportunities. The most secure source of new ideas are derived from customers unmet and/or unarticulated needs which can be uncovered through customer intimacy and understanding.

“When we understand what matters to people ... we can be what matters to them." -  Momentum Worldwide (the agency behind Facebook IQ Live)

Take a look at these video case studies that demonstrate great examples of how to design human experiences that analyse human behaviour and provide purposeful and informed solutions that encourage involvement.

Ashley - Designer

#BOSSLADYDREAM Finalist: Meet Tara Baker from Dancing With Her

Dream & DoComment

Tara Baker from Dancing With Her is one of our #BOSSLADYDREAM competition finalists! Check out her 60-second video here. We're announcing the winner of the $40k Business & Branding Package on 4 July…

What drove you to start your own business?

Arlia (my fiance) and I first spoke about eloping on a romantic holiday on Rottnest Island. Hours later she fell off a bicycle, hit her head and was having brain surgery. She can't remember that conversation on the beach. 

During Arlia's surgery, I was denied information from doctors as I was not 'family'. It broke my heart. We were family, we just didn't have the opportunity to make it legally recognised through marriage. 

A year-and-a-half later we had our 'real engagement' (one that Arlia remembers) and when we went searching for wedding inspiration we were faced with a heteronormative wedding industry and were left feeling uninspired. I started an Instagram page on one of my overnight nursing shifts and uploaded a few photographs. It became very clear, very quickly, that there was a whole lot of people, across the world, searching for exactly what we had just begun. 

What has been your greatest challenge so far?

Starting from scratch. Literally, I went to university to study social science. Twelve months ago I knew nothing about running my own business. But, I'm resourceful and I'm driven and have the support of Arlia who happens to have a couple of her own businesses. Sometimes finding the time to do everything is a challenge, it can easily become overwhelming. I overcome this by taking the time out to do things I enjoy, like eating a good burger, and come back to it all with a clear head. 

What has been one of your best highlights?

The very first Instagram message I received. I'd only posted about 10 photos, had no real direction about what I wanted to achieve. It read "My partner and I are so excited for what you are creating, we would love to share our story with you". That was the catalyst to it all. I'm generally called a dreamer and I felt a fire inside my belly and I couldn't stop thinking about what Dancing With Her could become. 

Second to that would have been the launch of dancingwithher.com - I was incredibly taken aback to see numbers going into the thousands in the week that followed launch day. It really concreted that a business like us needed to exist in the world. 

How do you keep motivated being a boss lady?

Sometimes it's really challenging. There are ups and down and you really can't be prepared for anything. 

I am motivated by knowing that Dancing With Her has so much potential. Regardless of the legalities surrounding marriage equality in Australia, women are choosing to celebrate their love, marry and start families, and so they should! We are here to celebrate that. Also, it's really lovely to open up emails that are full of the most beautiful love stories.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

If I could be half the person my Dad is, I'd be a proud woman. He is the most generous and honest man I've ever met. He has the time to listen to everyone which is such an admirable quality. He would probably consider himself a shy person, but his love for people is always really evident. I certainly get my curiosity and my 'get on with it' attitude from him. 

My fiance, Arlia, inspires me to be strong and reminds me that anything can be overcome, even if the journey is sometimes rocky. She supports me in a way that I couldn't be more thankful for and encourages me to always see a few steps ahead without loosing focus on the things right in front of me.

What blogs/mags or insta feeds do you follow for your business?

I've been a Collective Hub reader for a long while. I love reading about startups paving their own way. We are really at an exciting time to be starting our own business. And, as cliche as it might sound, I am incredibly inspired by Sophia Amoruso. I admire that she is 'self-made' - you don't need to have extensive experience and the very best education to get somewhere. You need passion, commitment and you probably need to have a little crazy in you. 

What is the best quote, book or piece of advice that has been given to you on this journey?

'Think bigger, don't let your imagination be your boundary.' - forgive me, I have no idea where it came from! I can't do all this on my own, and if I tried, you wouldn't get the multidimensional business Dancing With Her deserves to be. I am a control freak, so letting others in and sharing ideas can be challenging, but I know that it is best for the longevity of the business. 

Also, I'd recommend that everyone read 'Thankyou - Chapter One'. It was the first 'business' book that I added to my collection and it has inspired me to always ask. Arlia and I haven't got money to loose (has anyone?!), and I was inspired to know that you could create something from not much more than a whole lot of confidence to ask, the worst response you can get is no.

What would winning the #BOSSLADYDREAM competition mean to your business? How will it change things for you in particular?

If Dancing With Her won the #bossladydream title, it has the potential to really bring to life all the things that are in my head, but the bank account isn't okay with actioning just yet. It means a clear direction for Dancing With Her and its future - which means more representation for a community that has been left under-represented for far too long. 

Personally, it would give me the opportunity to immerse myself in learning and focus more on working in my business, rather than on it. That means more content, more collaborations and more education for wedding vendors to become 100% same-sex friendly. 

Being recognised as a finalist has been humbling, and has validated that Dancing With Her doesn't just deserve to exist, it deserves to thrive. It's also amplified that fire in my belly and I'm ready for it all!

Midnight Muse: Dreamers and Doers, a poem.

Tara Shelton1 Comment

Entitled? Or too audacious to settle.

Unfocused? Or too enticed by your imagination.

Competitive? Or an impossible standard you believe possible.

Impatient? Or a vision so clear you don't want to wait.

Reckless? Or bored by the path travelled by most.

Frustrated? Or you just know there is a better way.

Lonely? No. Lonely in crowds who don't care to challenge or create.

Selfish? Yes. This life is my life not yours.

Overachiever? Imagine a world built by low standards.

Dreamer? Or brave enough to imagine what doesn't exist.

Don't tell me to lower my expectations.
To create more balance.
To accept what is.
To be grateful and accepting.
Don't build walls or ceilings.
Don't make me fit in, be safe or secure in what you believe.

I'm a dreamer. I'm a Doer. And I'm in a life long love affair with what doesn't exist.

I'll always be chasing her, so let me run free.

You can doubt me.
But I can only drown from that poison when it's my own.

So please, leave me here.
Slow dancing with my dreams.

 

Midnight Muse: The Most Unlikely Combination; Baby and Business

Tara SheltonComment

Sitting down to write a blog post is near impossible with an almost six week old baby, which is why I recorded this one during a recent walk with Estelle and had a writer transcribe it. Resourceful, huh? My baby is now 18 weeks and I am only JUST publishing this blog now. My to-do list gets ticked in slow motion these days but it feels nice finally cross this one off, releasing my thoughts into the world!

This blog is one I’ve been wanting to write for a long time and is a collection of thoughts that have been seeding in my mind, about my business (Dream & Do) and motherhood. Here goes...

At first I thought motherhood would completely distract me from my business but it has actually brought the business to my attention and caused me to see Dream & Do in a whole new light.

I keep preaching the importance of changing your environment constantly and having new experiences in order to stay creative and that’s exactly what has happened to me as a result of motherhood (I say motherhood like I’ve been doing it for a long time but like I said, it’s only been six weeks!).

You wouldn’t think that motherhood and business really go together but they actually share a lot of similar qualities, so I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt so far...

LESSON #1

You’re not as important as you think you are

While I’ve quickly learnt that I’m the most important person in my daughter Estelle’s life - she quite literally needs me to survive - I’m also learning that I’m not the most important person when it comes to the life of my business.

I thought I was that person to my business and when I got pregnant I never wanted to have to choose between the two. I’ve always wanted a family and I’ve always wanted a business so I knew I had to make the two work.

When I got pregnant, naturally I freaked out:

“How the hell am I gonna run a business without being there?

“I’m the most creative.”

“I know all the clients.”

“I know how to run things.”

“Everyone asks me for help.”

“What is going to happen when I’m not available?!”

I went into planning mode and hired what I had essentially become - an account manager. I found a great account manager in Laura, but I only had 3-4 months with her and I knew that if she wasn’t to work out, I wouldn’t have time to hire anyone else. Thankfully she did work out.

Laura is doing a fantastic job. Our clients love her, perhaps more than they love me and I’m ok with that. I always thought that when I did leave, things wouldn’t go as well as they are going right now and I had hoped I’d have the time to check my emails, steer the team, approve all of the creative and respond to texts at the very least. I thought that was what the business needed but how wrong I was! I don’t even have time to shower some days (today being one of them).

Despite my absence, the work they are producing is phenomenal. There are some projects that I haven’t even seen the concepts for but I’ve got client emailing me saying how amazed they are.

Part of me wonders if the business even needs me, but the proud founder in me is like WOW!

Within 18 months - 2 years I’ve created a business and a culture that is able to run without me and that is so empowering!

I’ve learnt that I’m not the most important person in the business and I don’t need to be. By stepping back and not being able to micromanage (not that I’ve ever been a micromanager), I’ve seen the power of trust. If you give people the problem and let them find the solution, you’ll really be surprised. Trust makes people great.

LESSON #2

Giving up is not an option

I’ve always wanted a baby but I think in my case at least, I was very focused on the baby itself. I was so excited about the cuddles and that beautiful time when, almost like a puppy, you don’t want them to grow up, but I’d only ever imagined that time. I naively didn’t realise the permanence of having a child.

As a mother, you’re bringing a life into this world, one that will always be here. My baby is here now. Estelle, a human being, is here now and there’s no further choice in the matter. When she cries and doesn’t stop crying it hurts and there’s times you just want to walk away, but you can’t. You think about your old life and see it for what it was and how amazing it was, but you know there’s no going back. You’re here now and you can’t give up.

In business however, giving up is always an option. You can give birth to a business and bring it into the world but at anytime, when it gets too hard, you can give up.

People say that 50% of all startups fail within the first two years and I wonder how many of these fail because the person gave up? We hear the stories about rewards coming to those who don’t give up in the face of obstacles. These people have such a strong vision and even though it falters at times, they don’t give up. They stay flexible, they innovate and they grow and I think that’s something having a bub has taught me about business.

With business, you’ve brought something into the world so perhaps giving up shouldn’t be an option. It was your dream at some point and by remembering that it was your dream, you will remember why you started.

LESSON #3

The importance of purpose

I started my business with an unknowing desire to find something that I wanted to do everyday. I wanted to use my skills in a way that excites me and I was self aware enough to know what made me tick. I love design but what really makes my heart beat faster is business.

To me, business is creative. It’s an extreme type of creativity, where you’re bringing something into the world that people want. Firstly, I wanted to find a way to use design, branding and creativity within business. Secondly, I love helping people with a dream and giving them confidence. I also love that business can create your life. I’ve seen it happen for me - it’s still happening for me - and I want to see it happen for everyone who wants it.  It can bring a lot of happiness to the world, not only through what you can offer, but because you can get out of bed every day and do something you love.

It’s recently become a bit of a flavour, to find purpose in your life and entrepreneurs with a purpose are often the most successful. In the last six weeks I’ve found that the same can be said for motherhood.

Bringing a human life into the world, and the heavy responsibility that follows gives your life a huge amount of purpose. Obviously it’s up to you to keep this human alive and because it’s a human that you care so deeply for, you work harder to give them the best - to give them the home, the pet, the school, the activities - everything you think will give them a happy life.

You’ve also gotta work hard at creating morals and values so they become good people, no matter what they have. All of a sudden you’re a teacher too.

When you have a child, the purpose of your business becomes so much more important because the outcome of achieving that purpose directly affects your child. It’s the story of your life and you want to be the best you can be, so you can proudly say to your child, in this case, my daughter,

“This is what I love, this is what I stand for, this is what I work hard for and you should do the same.”

I find myself getting emotional just thinking about this.

I’m always preaching the importance of dreams - to the world, to my partner and to everyone I meet. Just the other day I caught myself in the living room one morning, dancing around with Estelle to the Spice Girls (which of course made think of my childhood with my sisters.)

I was dancing around, feeling on top of the world and later I found myself explaining it to my husband..

“It reminded me of the little girl I once was, with all of these dreams. Now I’ve grown up, I’m holding my daughter and I’m a girl whose dreams have come true.”

I’ve always been a dreamer and I loved encouraging my sisters and visualising what my life would be. All that I could want in life, I actually have right now. I don’t want to sound boastful but I really believe that what you focus on and imagine, you really can have. Yes I’m an optimist and perhaps I’m luckier than some, but I feel so grateful. One day, I want my daughter to feel the same, which is why I am so passionate about dreams and having a sense of purpose.

LESSON #4

You are more capable and resourceful than you think you are

Since becoming a mother I’ve learnt that time is a limited resource. I had originally planned to write this blog myself and I even took my laptop to the park with the intention of typing it up once Estelle had settled, but in reality, I didn’t even get a chance to open the Word doc.

Motherhood limits the amount of time you can dedicate to creative pursuits, which is a shame because I’ve never felt as creative as I feel right now (probably thanks to all of the these new experiences and emotions I’m having!). I’d love to be able to capture them all but I just don’t have the time which is super frustrating.

It’s difficult to even keep up with the ideas and emotions. I don’t have an answer, but I think having a team around you, a dream team, is so important because it allows you to have these fleeting moments of brilliance and then your team have the time to care and listen and bring that brilliance into the world, even if you don’t.

There’s no denying that becoming a mother changes your life and your business but that’s not to say it hinders it. Experiencing motherhood has given me a new perspective on business and despite the stress and amplified emotions (as if I wasn’t enough of a crier already!) it has all added more shades of colour to my life in unexpected ways.

If you want an unpredictable life, start a business. Then if you’re STILL bored...have a baby!