Make no mistake, economic times are tough right now. The UK is facing a cost-of-living crisis, with rising inflation and a reduction in disposable income. In other words, not a good day to start a business from scratch. Or is it?
It takes a special type of vision to see fertile opportunity where others see a barren landscape. Everything starts from somewhere. So for this piece, London Business Magazine speaks to 7 enterprising women offering timely advice for the trail-blazing souls out there – those willing to make 2022 the year they open shop.
KenQwonna Clarke: “Find someone and become the student”
From a background in social service, KenQwonna embodies the spirit of her nickname – “the Possibility Powerhouse”.
Now a best-selling author, she’s also a branding strategist and coach who helps women influencers gain the visibility they need.
After an abrupt ending to my traditional career and almost two full years of being isolated at home with my brand new baby, it’s an understatement to say I had to adjust. Most times, life changes are indeed meant to challenge us to adapt – your next move will start with a single spark!
In my case, I released a new bestselling short read called #I’m On Your Heels. This pep-talk between the pages dives deeper into the one piece of advice I have for those ambitious souls looking to start an enterprise in the near future.
Here goes. So first things first, find someone who is successfully doing what you want to accomplish and become the student. You need a coach to put you ahead of the learning curve and collapse time for you. Lisa Nichols was told by her English teacher that her writing was the worst in her school and that she should be selective about her future career choices. However, Lisa found that single spark, which was her strength as a public speaker. Since then, she’s become a seven-time bestselling author.
Words are powerful and have the ability to bring life or death when released. I was told that I was a “pipedreamer”. But like Lisa and so many others, I was smart enough to understand that just because someone said something about me, didn’t make it true. Oprah Winfrey was told that she didn’t have the look for television and fired as a news anchor. However, she went on to be the first African-American female Billionaire with a “B” by 2003.
My point is that it only takes one spark. That spark will come at different times and forms. Once your spark is lit, it’s your job to recognise it and protect it at all costs.
My last example is me. I almost allowed the circumstances I mentioned earlier to smother my spark. Uncertain of how I would pivot after the pandemic and becoming a parent, I had to bet on myself and go all in. I had to truly believe that I deserved to succeed and that I could. Many things will try and discourage you along the way. However, there are three keys that opens every door in life: clarity, courage and confidence. It only takes a single spark.
Miriam Feiler: “Advice now needs to come with caveats”
With an eye to the future, Miriam has turned her focus to adapting business for the Metaverse.
Such is her committment that she has produced a free podcast to share her insight on this up-and-coming development.
In the pre-pandemic world, the advice I would have given to anyone thinking of starting their own business is: “Find what lights you up and then build a values-driven business around it.”
However, with the world as it currently is, this advice now needs to come with caveats. I have seen way too many micro and small businesses decimated by the pandemic.
Today, I would add the following to my advice:
“Future-proof yourself by building a business that can withstand a crisis on the scale of COVID. Build a business that can survive lockdowns and restrictions. Build a business that you can do remotely from anywhere in the world, should future circumstances mean you need to leave where you are.
Build something online that does not rely on inventory or supply chains. And build a business that is socially responsible and kind to the environment.”
Amrit Kaur: “Be sure to have a vision”
With a background in fintech, Amrit now works as the chief digital product officer for a health tech start-up.
She also uses her versatile experience – including being based in the Middle East – to assist start-ups across various industries.
There has never been a better time for entrepreneurship and starting a new business! Anyone can start their own business, you do not need a degree or lots of funding or a huge network.
To begin, you must have a solution to a problem you’ve recognised, identified a gap in the market, and have the drive to get started! Be sure to have a vision, even if it is at a conceptual level. Name your business as soon as you can. The moment you have a name everything becomes real (you can always change it in future if you must!).
Every sector is undergoing a digital transformation; your business must be conscious of what the future of your industry holds and what to expect. Technology has made everything more accessible, faster, and more competitive – make sure you keep the future in mind. Learn how artificial intelligence everywhere, everything-as-a-service, no-code revolution, digitisation, datafication, and virtualisation will impact the industry you’re focusing on.
We founded The Startups Hub so entrepreneurs – whether they hold an idea or are already on their way – can avoid costly mistakes and have access to a network of professionals who can help and guide them along their journey.
Jacqueline Lawrence: “Monitor trends and look for opportunities”
A professional solicitor, Jacqueline started out in financial services and worked for a number of international firms.
Her 15 years of experience is now being used in the service of helping others through career coaching – including youth from marginalised backgrounds.
The impact of COVID-19 has resulted in a huge shake-up in the way we operate and work within society. Losing loved ones, the impact on mental health, furlough and the shift to working remotely has prompted many people to reflect on life in general. In turn, this has led to many quitting their jobs in search of a better work-life balance or to pursue their true aspirations.
Some people have opted to make the leap from employee to business owner. If this is something you’re considering, before you take that step, ensure you thoroughly research your products or services and the market/industry you propose to operate in, including future predictions.
If you’re stuck for business ideas, monitor trends and look for opportunities within those sectors e.g., the on-demand economy (where consumers want instant access to food services) continues to increase. This could present an opportunity to set-up a cloud managed kitchen, like Kitopi, who provide a one-stop food supply chain.
Leveraging your expertise in a particular field would benefit many people seeking to enhance their skills, especially the time-short. You could cater for this community by creating online, bite-size courses on demand. Domestika is an example of a successful provider in this market.
If you’re considering the sustainability sector, research the needs of the vegan industry. Due to the growing awareness of the impact of meat consumption, more people are becoming vegans, resulting in a surge in demand for vegan-based products and food outlets.
Tracy Repchuk: “Find out what is needed and wanted now by the public you want to serve”
CEO of InnerSurf International, Tracy has gotten used to staying ahead of the curve. So it’s no surprise that she is working to empower people to set up their businesses from home.
As a 37 year entrepreneurial survivor, and someone who has predicted most trends from being a pioneer on the internet (yes, I started a software company in 1985 and navigated the internet in 1992), to social media adopter, you are best to take 2022 with a slightly different viewpoint. Here’s why:
The world has had a global reboot, with personal contact, gatherings and careers completely disrupted. This displacement opens up a new scale of impact – but contains many historical trends of success that need to be applied.
The first is to find out what is needed and wanted now by the public you want to serve. That’s the traditional beginning (but often skipped if you’re lucky enough for hit-and-miss networking to provide you with the clients you need). Now, because we are in a predominantly online world, your skills need to be laser focused to reach your target market.
That means finding out which platform they’re on and understanding that YouTube serves as a central content distribution network across social media. Leverage that, as well as the search engine optimised world of Google, to reach your audience.
Video media is the most dominant method of consuming data. It’s also growing exponentially with the success of TikTok. With this one-two punch as your lead generation and audience engager, you will have mastered a necessary skillset that will help you build a strong foundation and organically bring you long-term value. Moreover, it is still only properly used by just 9% of businesses. That’s the focus of my 2022 – building out my and my clients YouTube channels.
Jacqueline Shaulis: “Lean into normalising asking for help”
Harnessing the power of introverts, Jacqueline has made a name for herself as an executive coach and speaker with an intersectional mindset.
Founder of Awesome Enterprises, she shares her insight on starting out.
Your passion for what you do isn’t enough. You’ll need help throughout your entrepreneurial journey, so get support early and expand incrementally.
When starting, you may be using services like free business mentorship and advice, or low cost tools to systematise your processes. Later, you may include having a team to delegate out non-revenue generating tasks, or a coach to learn how to manage scaling your successful business.
The key is to be as clear as possible about your needs, so you can choose the best options. It’s those options that can actually help you get your goods or services into the world to serve and add value.
Embracing your AWESOME is all about bringing your amazing works of expression to the fore to serve others with maximum enjoyment. So lean into normalising asking for help and receiving support to do just that.
Joyce Wazirali: “Our talents are our innate potential”
With her 30+ years of experience guiding successful entrepreneurs, Joyce Z. Wazirali; founder, CEO and author of Unity Conscious Leadership®, shares three secrets to success.
1. Know your talents and mission.
Use that as a compass for the right choices and direction in your life, business and relationships. Our talents are our innate potential. They give colour to who we essentially are and represent the building blocks of our mission. The more someone knows their talents and mission (and uses them), the easier it becomes to do the things that come easy, make them happy and successful.
2. Take your leadership from the perspective of unity consciousness.
Knowing that we are all interconnected, interdependent and influencing each other constantly. With the awareness that our outer world is a reflection of our inner, start with self-reflection. Be the hero you want to see in the world, and find the answers and solutions within yourself.
3. Personal development
The collective crisis caused by the pandemic is a traumatic experience for many people and businesses worldwide. Keep working on uncovering your potential and healing your trauma.