What Makes a Successful Business?
June/July/Aug are important months for Mrs Mummypenny. In June 2013 Mrs Mummypenny was born and then two years later on 30th June 2015 I took redundancy from the corporate world to focus solely on my fourth baby Mrs Mummypenny. I was determined to make it success and poured my all into the development of the business.
There has certainly been ups and downs. But I wanted to share some of the things I have done that have made me successful. Skills that make a great business owner and entrepreneur.
A Strong Corporate & Commercial Background
I know that my corporate background has helped me out hugely with my business. I have 16 years of corporate experience working for companies including M&S, Tesco, HSBC and EE. My corporate career saw me work my way through the ranks, getting a CIMA, commercial accounting qualification along the way. I worked for several blue-chip companies and was a key person making commercial/financial decisions.
Experiences of working for highly profitable and high growth companies, failing companies, companies full of red tape and others where decision making was easier was invaluable. I have spent my life communicating with directors and teams via presentations, emails and spreadsheets. And I know how to make and save a company millions of pounds.
My corporate career stood me in good stead for building my own business.
Mentors & Support Network
My corporate background also gave me the most wonderful mentors. People who have given their time and advice willingly over the past four years. I am a firm believer in finding the right guides when you set up your own business. I am one person, having to make huge impactful (on me and my business) decisions every day. Sometimes I need another viewpoint from people who are experienced in a different way.
There are many to call on depending on what help I need. I have friends who are experts at strategy and life coaching. I have friends who have set up their own businesses and successfully sold them, now millionaires. There are legal experts, tax experts, marketing masterminds. I have many people to turn to when I need a bit of advice. I am blessed.
In turn and to complete the circle of mentorship and support, I am a mentor to many. I have lots of friends who turn to me for guidance and advice on the many subjects from career to money management and self-employment. I am an expert on negotiation and pricing and talk often to bloggers, freelancers about how to set their pricing and receive the right fees. Look out for me doing a talk at the annual SHOMO UK Money Blogger Event.
Building a business takes time, which is slightly stressful if you need it to earn money as soon as possible (like I did!). I had a pot of redundancy money that covered the bills in the beginning of Mrs Mummypenny but that ran out at around month 15. (That is when the debt started to build up, 16k paid off in two years).
This did mean there wasn’t too much pressure to earn money in my first full-time year, making it more about networking, writing content and learning my trade. I made a loss in my first year of trading. I spent more than I received in income.
Things changed in year two where I did make some money, but it was never the most important objective. This meant I could say no to a lot of work. Pay day loan companies have offered thousands over the years, always a no. Companies in financial trouble have offered money for campaigns and I have said no.
I have not been perfect; I have said yes to some work that I maybe wouldn’t say yes to now. During year two my redundancy money ran out, and I still had to pay for £2kish of monthly bills. I did take on some work that I wouldn’t do now, McDonalds and some pre-written link building work springs to mind.
By year three the business was doing well. I made a clear profit and paid a big chunk of tax to HMRC. My turnover seems to be doubling every year if I was to pull out a pattern. I am soon to end my 4th financial year and I am now financially sound. I even have money in the bank to pay for the summer holidays when costs increase.
Having a Strategy
When I started full-time Mrs Mummypenny, I spent a few months over the summer of 2015 planning my business and strategy. I spent much time with a small business advisor and wrote a good business plan. It was deemed a good business idea, so much so that I received a national enterprise allowance from the government. I appointed an accountant and set up the legal structure of my company, with advice.
During 2017 I worked with a coach Kay Byles coming up with a brilliant strategy for the long term of the business. I went with the strapline, healthy wealth, body and mind. This meant brands I partnered with had to match this objective.
During 2018 I focussed even further on my strategy with guidance from one of my mentors, we spent a day in the Hospital Club and ripped apart my business and rebuilt it. We came up with the statement ‘Inspire others’. This made it simpler to decide on clients and work that I was being approached to do. All work I accept, sponsored posts, public speaking etc must inspire others.
We also devised guidelines to help me to validate clients, all my clients must have ethics and morals like mine, be environmentally positive, look after their staff (as happy staff generally means good customer service) and be financially stable.
I must also point out that in 2018 I was duped by another coach, a new person and not a friend. They were paid a lot of money (£2.5k!!) and didn’t gain anything of value. I learnt a lot from this experience and am grateful in a way that it happened. I am firm believer that we learn more from our failures than our successes.
There were definite times when I lost faith and began to think that Mrs Mummypenny wasn’t going to work. January 2017 was a scary time. 18 months after leaving EE, the debts were mounting up and my income was not high enough.
I met up with the right person at the time who helped to guide me. She asked the right questions that made me realise my business idea was sound. I looked back at some of my achievements from the previous 18 months and saw how far I had come. I decided to focus even harder. It came good, the few months that followed saw some amazing jobs being agreed and income that enabled the debt repayment to start.
In September 2018 I ran out of money. The summer was tough, my income dropped, and my costs increased hugely. My debt repayment went backwards, and I was at the very end of all my overdrafts. It was a tough time. A friend took me out for Thai dinner, he paid, and we rationalised it. Although I was cash poor, I had invoices outstanding that were soon due to be paid. He gave the tough talk and focus I needed, and I kept the faith. All was fine just 2 months later.
Anyone who is a blogger or person in the public eye needs a thick skin. I have haters, particularly as my brand builds and builds. The comments written after any piece I write for a newspaper are painful, so I very simply never ever read. I have read comments on other people’s articles and know I do not need that kind of emotional turmoil.
I get nasty comments on social media and on my blog. But I have this innate ability to read the first 3 words and I know its going to be nasty. So, I just delete and block. Simple.
I like to imagine the trolls cowering in a corner of a room sad and lonely. They only way they can gain any self-worth is to send out hateful messages to people in the public eye. My counsellor helped me come up with this coping mechanism, yes, I needed counselling to deal with some particularly nasty trolling that hit my DMs during 2018.
Trying new things
This one is important for the growth of any business. You need to try new things. And be prepared for some/many to fail! I have tried so many things that have failed and have pumped money into them too. I wrote this post about failure and what I learnt from it.
But equally I have tried many new things that have worked. My podcast is now 50 episodes old and is very successful with thousands listening and I have the most amazing guests. And I am sill unique in my delivery of Mrs Mummypenny Talks where I interview inspirational people.
I have written and self-published a book, Blogging Your Way To Riches with Emma Bradley, and have another in the pipeline. I have self-published an eBook Dear Debt its time to say Goodbye, get your free copy with the pop-up on my website!
If I am asked to do anything that scares me, I normally say yes, as you never know where it will lead to!
Over to you, what has made your business successful?
These are the things that I know have helped my success, maybe you have other things that have helped you? Please share in the comments so anyone reading this can go off armed with ideas on how to create successful business. Thank you for reading.