When I realised that the corporate marketing life wasn’t for me and decided to start my own marketing agency, some people gave me their two cents worth. People said I’d fail, they said it was so much work, they wanted to know what I would do if it didn’t succeed. Lots of people queried my decision to open a fully-remote small business, with no office, back in 2016 when it wasn’t yet the norm. This was years before the pandemic and remote working, and some people thought that workers couldn’t be trusted to deliver if they didn’t have a boss standing over their shoulder.
Turns out, those fears were unfounded. The business is succeeding – so much so that I recently opened a second agency – and my team is thriving in an environment of trust and respect. Staying curious and continuously learning has always been my mantra. I have always spent time attending industry events, networking and reading books and listening to relevant podcasts. I always learn something and love keeping up to date with industry and technological trends.
“Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally. It comes from what you do consistently.” – Marie Forleo, Entrepreneur This quote is on the money. Starting a small business is hard and frustrating and stressful at times but the rewards outweigh all the bad things. Showing up and giving it your all is the best way to live your life.
Starting The Bubble Co. was the best thing I ever did. Growing it to the position it is now is a close second. These are some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way:
1) Set clear goals: Before you can create a successful business or a vison of how you would like your life to look, you need to define specific and goals. A clear vision of what you want to achieve will guide you and keep you focused.
– Setting SMART goals is the best way to keep yourself accountable:
Specific: Goals should be specific and well-defined – identify what you want to achieve.
– Measurable: Goals should be measurable so that progress can be tracked and evaluated. Establish milestones to gauge your success.
– Achievable: Goals should be realistic and attainable. Consider the resources, skills, and time available to ensure that the goal is within reach.
– Relevant: Goals should be relevant and aligned with your overall business objectives. They should directly contribute to your success and be meaningful in the context of your business.
– Time-bound: Goals should have a specific timeframe or deadline. Setting a target date creates a sense of urgency.
2) Find a mentor who inspires you – and return the favour: Having an experienced mentor who wants to share their knowledge and encourage you to be better is invaluable. I’ve gained priceless information on every aspect of being an entrepreneur from mentors along the way.
Success is not an individual thing, it comes from putting aside the ego and learning from those around us who have ‘been there, done that’. A good mentor will offer support, encouragement, and accountability. They will provide reassurance during challenging times and help you stay focused when things don’t go according to plan.
Research shows that having a mentor can increase your chances of success but you need to be willing to put the work in, too. Be open to advice and put it into action, even if it scares you.
In turn, I mentor young entrepreneurs by sharing my insights, knowledge and experience. Helping the business leaders of tomorrow develop their leadership skills and make connections is rewarding and inspiring. If you’ve been helped by a mentor on the way up I urge you to share your skills with young entrepreneurs – I guarantee you’ll get just as much out of it as they do, if not more.
3) The magic happens outside of your comfort zone: You’ve studied, done your research, undertaken feasibility studies and decided to launch. Welcome to the fear! You will have many moments of uncertainty on your small business journey, which is completely normal. No-one has the all the answers, especially not at the very beginning.
That’s why networking, having a mentor and believing in your businesses is so important. Or, as the saying goes, feel the fear and do it anyway.
4) Embrace innovation Be open to new ideas and technologies that can improve your products, services or processes such as AI. Some people seem to be apprehensive about introducing AI, such as ChatGPT, into their work processes. When they see how much time is saved by automation of tasks and admin they are amazed. In fact, many people have said that the advent of AI is as big a game changer as the Industrial Revolution.
5) To get the best talent you need to offer extra Providing a remote and flexible workplace helps The Bubble Co. attract and retain some amazing people who otherwise might work elsewhere. Our strategists, designers, web specialists and content writers are located across Australia and New Zealand. Our strong systems and processes ensure everyone is aware of their deadlines and responsibilities, and we champion open communication so there’s always a team member and a clear list of procedures to follow if an issue arises.
Having catch ups and team competitions – online and in real life – helps us stay connected and have fun. We must be doing something right as we received a nod from the SmartCompany and ranked in Smart50: Workplaces 2023 for our leading approach to people and culture. Of course, trusting our team goes without saying. I wouldn’t hire or work with people I didn’t trust. When people are trusted, they feel safer and will do more than what is expected.
Surround yourself with talented, passionate people who share your vision and values. We invest heavily in employee training and development to empower our team, and offer both online and live training events to encourage a positive work culture.
Remember: starting a small business can be hard but it can also be the best thing you ever do. Don’t overlook networking, innovation and remember – pushing yourself to reach your goals will help you grow as a person while your business also succeeds.
Surely that’s a goal everyone can aspire to.
Renee Francis is the Founder & Director of The Bubble Co. and Take3. She is available for interviews and podcasts.