So 9 years ago I set up a blog all about being a plus-size runner. I was frustrated with the progress I was making, how difficult it was to find running gear to fit AND coming last in races.
I did not intend for this blog to become a business, or for me to become a full time serial entrepreneur.
OK so I had done some freelancing, and worked as a consultant…but that felt different, that was being commissioned to deliver on specific briefs, that wasn’t me being completely responsible for the creation of employment for the rest of my life.
But lets go back a minute.
The year is 2012, I am in a full-time job…my blog has gained popularity despite being anonymous, and me only posting every now and again, I am 7 months pregnant…and my boss at the time calls me into his office and I find out I am being made redundant….for the 4th time in 10 years I might add.
In that moment…OK well maybe after I cried the whole way home on the bus (never a good look for a pregnant lady) I decided never again would I let someone else be in control of my wealth.
About a year went by before I decided to officially turn my blog into a business, a loan from the jobcentre helping to make it happen. Things were moving fast…I was selling branded merchandise, and working with brands, I’d even managed to put my daughter into nursery a few days a week.
And that’s when I got a phone call from a major TV company asking if I’d like to go on a well-known TV show hosted by a well-known TV gardener.
The premise for the piece was a makeover.
I had been nominated for a blog award, and I had nothing to wear…so it made for a great story.
“Should I wear my running gear?” I asked the lovely producer
“Yeah that would be great…I’ll send a car”
I was so excited I told everyone, my friends and family, and my thousands of blog readers….my first stint on national TV…it was going to be fab.
Turned up at the studio and was told,
“We’ve had a bit of a change of mind, we didn’t realise it is valentines day so the feature is going to be valentines themed”
“OK’ I said. Thinking about how I could spin this for my business.
Then the bigger picture unveiled itself. The feature would work like this.
They had pulled two random people from the audience, and the three of us would have to find boxes in a heart shaped pit, one of them would have the prize of the make over.
It all just happened so fast.
We were ushered onto the stage. The man himself said hello briefly. And then we were live….and we were being introduced. No background info just our first name, and then we were scrabbling around on our hands and knees for the bloody boxes.
I’ve never felt so embarrassed in my life.
In part, because I was the only one in my running kit, which hadn’t even been explained properly…it must have looked like I had literally been dragged in off the street.
Needless to say I didn’t find the right box.
As I waited in the green room for the private car to come and collect me I could feel my face flush, my throat tense and my eyes start to well up. How bloody embarrassing. What a waste of an opportunity. I’d bloody paid for childcare for this. What would people think?
I was mortified.
I think the runners thought I was crying because I didn’t win…when in fact I was crying because I felt like such a big fat loser…just generally.
When the show went live on the TV I could barely watch it, and I cried all over again.
I was mortified. The TV adding all those extra pounds people often talking about, and then some. My running clothes riding up as I dug around in that stupid box.
I can laugh about it now.
But I was broken back then.
That’s the thing as an early stage entrepreneur, you throw yourself into every opportunity, you never ask enough questions, you somehow can’t find the way of saying “no this isn’t going to work” well at least I couldn’t.
I later went on to do 6 weeks on ITVs This Morning with my programme 5 weeks to 5K, helping 3 viewers who had never run learn to run in just 5 weeks….and I’ve appeared on numerous over programmes since.
I will never forget that experience though.
Heres the thing though. I am proud of that person back then. She fearlessly went after what she desired, even though it didn’t work out. Yes, she felt embarrassed, but she didn’t let the fear of embarrassment stop her from moving forward.
So many small business owners are afraid of visibility in case it all goes wrong, but you can not have success without putting yourself out there, its just part of the territory.
Being an entrepreneur is a relentless life filled with opportunity, choice, review, reflect, and then more choice. The one thing you can not do as an entrepreneur is staying still.
We must be brave, we must be bold, we must be decisive and say yes to things even if there are no guarantees of success.
The only thing I have regrets about in the early days of being an entrepreneur was not surrounding myself with other small business owners sooner.
I was lonely.
I had nobody to seek advice or commiserations with.
I had no strategy for PR or Media, I had no strategy at all. And even though my rise to success as a business owner has been pretty swift, I made most of that progress the moment I started working with coaches and building my network of other business owners.
I literally wasted 3 years in the wilderness
Do I still get embarrassed at things these days?
Hmmmm not so much.
As I like to say,
“Shame is something others feel on my behalf”
Failure is not embarrassing, going after what you want is not embarrassing, asking for help, not knowing all the answers, getting things wrong, asking for a sale and being told no is not embarrassing…this is just the mechanics of business…and if you are not willing to put yourself out there, chances are you are leaving money on the table for those people who are willing to be vulnerable.
My name is Julie Creffield and I am a serial entrepreneur and transformational business coach and strategist. My expertise is in growing vibrant and profitable communities around your business and finding creative ways of engaging your customers, followers and fans.
Next week I will be revealing my enormous plans for 2020.
In fact, on Tuesday 19th November its Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and I will be revealing my plans and offering a no brainer way of working with me next year. This opportunity will be for just 33 small business owners, and the offer will go out to my Tribe first for the first refusal.
I get goosebumps whenever I think about the impact this next step is going to have for my life and of course the lives of my clients (and their clients)…coupled with occasional bouts of self-doubt…but that’s just normal. I can not wait to share my plans.