New Year’s Resolutions seem to split opinion these days but for me, the dawn of a new year offers a plethora of opportunities and I for one love a blank canvas to play with and make my own.
Especially when it comes to my ever-mounting plans for this business and finding ways in which I can improve She can. She did.
With that in mind, instead of trying to conjure up a new ‘list of lessons learnt this year’ post for you all (side note: if lessons are what you’re looking for though, the list I wrote this time last year and on She can. She did.’s first birthday cover a fair few!), I thought I’d share some personal observations drawn from 2018 that I can foresee myself needing to hear throughout the course of the next 365 days and sod it, I’ve thrown in a few resolutions for good measure.
This business has felt like my best friend, my worst enemy, my boss and my baby at varying points this year and yet, despite knowing that the likelihood of some dodgy days cropping up to challenge us all next year (amongst the fun bits) is high, I’m more excited than ever to get going on 2019…
1) Don’t get comfortable/ complacent/ any other word that resembles lazy as shit!
If there was one observation that emerged from every Midweek Mingle and interview this year, it would be that the key to each Founders’ success thus far, directly correlates to the consistency in which they’ve committed to their end goal. It’s an obvious one but one that is so often overlooked in equal measure.
In my opinion, to get the results you need to put the work in to begin with. In order to grow you need to continue to work. In order to stay ahead, you need to ensure that you innovate.
When I first started interviewing Founders for She can. She did., I remember being so surprised when I asked the question about whether they deem themselves to be “successful” because more-often-than-not they were constantly plugging away at bigger and better plans (so their answers went along the lines of “in many ways yes, but…”). In my eyes, they were successful, no questions asked. I can now appreciate however, that the goal posts when you run a business are constantly shifting and they all shared a common desire to keep plugging away at new plans.
With that in mind therefore, even though I’m so proud of what I achieved with She can. She did. in 2018 and it’d be all-too-easy to take my foot off the pedal and coast for a bit (because let’s face it, the past few days of doing nothing but eating my body weight in cheese have felt so. damn. good.), this business is nowhere near where I want it to be yet and there’s a whole lot of ideas ticking away in my head that require some serious slog and commitment next year to get off the ground.
Whilst I’m a lot better at walking away from my laptop if I need some headspace now therefore and am all for booking a holiday to switch off and recharge, when it comes to the daily habits that aren’t always glamorous (ie. putting in the hours/ doing things that aren’t always in my comfort zone/ working through some weekends etc…) I’m determined to make sure that I don’t take the progress I made in 2018 for granted, find ways to add to the She can. She did. offering as it stands, and approach new goals come January with no less energy and enthusiasm as before.
2) Tackle the ‘business admin’ head on this year!
I feel so lucky that I receive so many supportive emails and messages from you all, sharing your stories and dreams or questions with me each week but for every “Hi Fi” a, “To the She can. She did. team” and, “Hi ladies” comes through and I’m often left having to explain that it’s just me plotting away behind this screen. From my side, I’m not a business coach or business expert (nor have I once claimed to be!) and I don’t have an official team working alongside me each day; so for all the ambitious suggestions and questions that come my way (which I’m so grateful for), I’m still learning myself about this crazy business world and am still trying to navigate my way through all the do’s and don’ts.
For the past seventeen months, I’ve got by without sending a single email to promote an event to She can. She did.’s growing list of subscribers (relying solely, instead, on Instagram to promote and sell The Midweek Mingle tickets); I’ve lived with an overflowing box of receipts under my bed each night, putting off learning about what exactly it is I’m supposed to do with them each day; I’ve borrowed money from family to help with cash flow pre-each event and then paid it back the second the event money comes in a few days later (and prayed that my card wouldn’t be declined in the meantime à la that time in Asda of all places when I tried and failed to pay for a small food shop and everyone in the queue looked horrified when my card said “no” earlier this summer!) and I haven’t enlisted the help of any form of PR support to get the brand seen and heard, relying on good old word of mouth from you lovely lot (thank you as always) and a well-timed hashtag to get by instead.
But I’m well aware that for this business to grow in the way that I want it to, getting a good grasp of ‘business admin’ in the same way that I’ve tried to get a grip with the oh so mundane ‘life admin’ in recent years, will stand She can. She did. (and my attitude towards it) in much better stead going forward this year.
From recently signing up to Xero to help with my book keeping and accounts going forward (after hearing SO many positive things about it from the Founders I’ve interviewed since launching), putting aside some time in January to finally learn how to use Mail Chimp so that I can make better use of She can. She did.’s growing list of subscribers and raise my marketing game throughout the year, to ensuring that I save money from the 2018 roadshow so that I have a buffer to help settle upfront costs ahead of the list of events that I’ve got planned for this year, this resolution is a no brainer for me as the business grows and will (I’m hoping) relieve a lot of the stress that has built up from doing things on an ad hoc basis thus far.
3) Do the above whilst keeping the start-up spirit and mindset alive!
Like any good – albeit cheesy – relationship advice goes, once the honeymoon period wears off and your matching undies get traded in for M&S’s finest, you need to work at keeping le romance alive and in my opinion, I have a feeling it’ll be the same for my attitude towards how I run She can. She did. going forward.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t imagine falling out of love with why I started She can. She did. in the first place – the ethos behind the business and the big dreams as I’ve said, are what keeps me plugging away each day. For obvious reason though, my diary now compared to when I first started is a lot busier; with my resolution above out there in the world, things like organising the events, releasing the soon-to-be-launched podcast and sorting out my accounts will (fingers crossed) be less ad hoc; and my biggest goal for 2019 is to get the idea I took to investors up and running; so the time I have to play with each day will no doubt be reduced even more.
With that in mind, it’d be all too easy to batten down the hatches and shut down any random opportunities that crop up that don’t fit into that “plan”.
For me though, it’s those random opportunities that you say “yes” to without thinking in the early days – that more-often-than-not led me down the most random but exciting pathways – that I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of next year. Be it agreeing to go for coffee with so and so who you met via so and so; saying “yes” to a call to listen to someone’s proposal to collaborate; or finding the time to just sit down at your desk and make unfiltered lists of everything you want to achieve; there’s something to be said for the blind optimism and fun that you have in the early months that holds a lot of value and I’m going to do my upmost best to keep it alive, no matter how busy my diary gets, going forward.
4) Drown out any unconstructive noise and always go high when they go low
This theme has cropped up in some of the lessons I’ve shared along the way be it, ‘you can’t please everyone/ not everyone is going to ‘get it’ or you and that’s ok’ etc… but regardless, it doesn’t stop the fact that negative feedback for the sake of being simply negative (as opposed to constructive); people pitting you against other businesses without your consent; or fellow business owners blatantly copying ideas or trying to undermine you; can feel like a personal attack when it’s your business and reputation in the firing line.
Compared to some business owners I’ve spoken to or followed from afar this year, I’ve got off so lightly which I’ll forever be grateful for but there have been a handful of occasions recently – which have unsurprisingly correlated with when She can. She did. has shown a glimmer of growth – where I’ve felt hurt, betrayed and to be frank, pissed off behind the scenes from some of the above!
I was warned about it from the start, I’m reminded that it’s a common theme throughout many of the interviews and I have no doubt that it will (sadly) continue to crop up in the future as our businesses grow.
For me, there’s a reason why I chose to launch a business that works predominately with women. There is so much good to gain from working with and supporting other women, giving each other the space and encouragement to shine and grow and friends to be made when we’ve got each other’s backs. I am and always have been a real girl’s girl but I’m not naïve to the reasons why some women choose to label themselves otherwise.
I was lucky enough to grow up unharmed by bullying as a child but the two times I have been bullied have both been by other women. Once when I was seventeen in school when I ran for Head Girl and later got that position and once when I was twenty-one by a boss about ten years my senior, that invited me back to work with her for the second summer in a row, only to make that summer pure hell, then proceed to tell me that, “your damn good at your job Fi, it’s you I don’t like.” (And of course then proceed to list the reasons why..!)
Both times, I turned to my Mum for support and both times she shared the exact same advice: “It stems from jealousy, hold your head high, and don’t for one-minute stoop to their level.”
Going forward therefore, it’s advice that I will bring with me on this little journey if needs be.
You will never please everyone in life nor should you feel the need to and there will always be “baddies” in business – it’s one of those shitty facts of life! For me, it’s just a case of reminding myself of that. I trust my gut instincts and I trust my moral compass so in the wise words of Michelle Obama (whose new book, Becoming, FYI is so worth a read by the way!), “when they go low, we go high”.
5) Never ever let the words “sorry but not this time” stop you from dreaming big
Whilst my experiences from this year alone tell me that the big ideas are highly unlikely to happen straight away (and that as frustrating as it can seem sometimes, you really do have to build your business up one baby step at a time) for me, the big dreams are what keep me going on a day to day basis and without them ticking away and allowing my imagination to run wild, the smaller steps I’ve taken this year that have built up to create a year that I’m proud of, would have never been entertained in my head without hearing a “no” first.
Bloody long sentence I know but roll with me here..!
The Midweek Mingles after all, were born out of a January spent pitching a much grander event to a few multi-billion pound companies who politely but firmly told me to prove myself first.
However brutal hearing that seemed at the time though, in hindsight it’s so obvious to me why that was the case!
To set the scene, the amazing Maddy Russel hadn’t yet designed the She can. She did. branding so I was taking a ‘sponsorship pack’ that I’d printed at home, stapled in the corner and put in a plastic wallet (featuring the old ‘logo’ that I’d made myself on logojoy.com in my first week of She can. She did..!) and was asking them to support me without any proof that I could get one bum on a seat, let alone the two-hundred odd I was pitching to them in each of those meetings..!
But it was starting 2018 hearing that recurring “no” from said companies, that forced me to start smaller and find an event that I could get off the ground without the support from multiple sponsors backing. I took a step back, I brainstormed with my friend Brogan, I followed up with a few contacts that I’d been told to speak to en route and by mid-February, The Midweek Mingle series was born.
In a similar manner, it was only by diving in at the deep end and pitching nothing but an idea to a big VC fund on my birthday in August and taking on board their subsequent advice that came hand in hand when they said “no”, that I had the experience with the team of angel investors that went on to put forward an offer a few weeks later. Whilst I ended up having to walk away from that offer for reasons I explained in this post, that experience forced me to secure proof that the components I’d need for the idea to work would be on board and with that knowledge, I’m now more convinced than ever that I need to build this thing (and am now looking at ways to get the MVP off the ground in 2019 without external funding or at least, without the grand total I went after initially!)
Put simply, for me, it’s those elaborate dreams of ‘what could be done’ when my mid-afternoon slump hits or the grand visions for where I could take this thing that pop into my head mid-workout each morning that get me excited, get me moving and eventually lead me down the path I need to take.
Convoluted though that path may be at times, the experiences I learn en route make it one so worth walking and for that reason alone, are something that I refuse to give up.
So there you have it! My goals/resolutions/life lessons that I’ll be taking with me into the New Year!
Whilst I have absolutely no idea what’s in store for us all next year, one thing I am certain of is that in 365 days’ time, each and every one of us will have grown our businesses or ideas in some shape or form and will have achieved something – or maybe lots of things – that will make our current selves proud.*
For me that’s something so worth getting excited about.
As always, I wish you all so much luck for next year. Dream big, take some inspiration from the women that have done it, work harder than you’ve ever worked before and no matter what, if you truly believe in your business, don’t for one minute give up.
See you on the flipside girls – let’s make it a good’un.
*that is of course, if we all put the work in between then and now..!