Birmingham Entrepreneurs: Tips For Starting Your Own Business

Birmingham Girls share their views on the positives and negatives of starting their own businesses, alongside their top tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Ilham Soulkani, founder of Orkani Skincare

Luxury natural skincare brand;

Originating from homemade recipes as a teenager in Morocco, Ilham has gained professional qualifications and conducts months of research to develop each natural and organic skincare product.

The positives...

The best thing is turning an idea into a reality, with freedom to make decisions. It is nice to be in charge of your own destiny for finances too.

The negatives...

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It’s not easy to make your brand stand out in the UK market, so it was a lot of work to build trust in people trying our new products, instead of staying with their favourites. We experienced issues with marketing strategy and faulty packaging in the early stages, but these were simple to fix.

Top 3 tips:

  1. Your business idea must be something that you really like, as that will keep you motivated because you want to achieve that dream. 

  2. Know your strategy, how you plan to gain clients and make yourself heard in a saturated market.

  3. Don't stop. Every business goes through struggles, but if you can find a way through, then don’t give up on your dreams.

Ana Savuica, founder of The She Approach

Blog Strategist and Coach;   

Beginning as a CV-enriching skill, The She Approach developed into a resource empowering women to build better blogs and grow their online platforms.

The positives...

My schedule is flexible, which allowed me to raise a puppy, work from home, take extended holidays and fit in my University classes without sacrificing a full-time income. Working on something reliant on my own efforts and creativity has offered a new sense of purpose and confidence that I carry every day.

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The negatives...

As a young online entrepreneur, my world tends to be lonely. While I thrive professionally and am most productive working by myself, it was hard not having friends who understood the work I was doing. Luckily, the online space is an awesome place to connect with people globally, so I joined communities and events where I found like-minded people who inspired me to keep pushing.

Top 3 tips:

  1. Go for it, even if you don't have everything figured out yet. The only certain way to adjust your direction and grow your business is to start one!

  2. Find mentors, surround yourself with people who understand what you're trying to achieve and encourage you to do so. Invest in a business coach to grow your business faster, avoid mistakes and develop the mindset of a real entrepreneur.

  3. Figure out what you have to offer the world. Find where your expertise, experience and passion intersect to create a product, service or business that aligns with a need.

Kalei Marie, founder of KMP

UK clothing and swimwear brand;  

Creating a dress for a friend’s birthday reignited a passion for fashion, leading to developing a brand of custom dresses and swimwear, expanding to original artwork for t-shirts and hoodies.

The positives...

I go through a rollercoaster of emotions with every piece I create but once I see it hanging up or being worn by a customer the feeling of pride is indescribable.

The negatives...

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I am my own worst critic and no matter how many successful garments I create, I will always second guess myself and be nervous about releasing a sketch or final garment.

Top 3 tips:

  1. Work hard - nothing comes easy and when it’s got your name on it, slacking off is definitely not an option.

  2. Be confident but open to opinions - customer/client feedback is essential to any developing business. At the same time be confident, push your message and stay strong to your values.

  3. Enjoy it - creating a successful business is stressful and hard work, but take a moment to enjoy each achievement and that will serve as the motivation to push through.

Ellen Pope, founder of Ellen Pope Communications

Marketing and PR Consultancy;

Harnessing an enthusiasm for marketing, Ellen grows small businesses through branding, digital and storytelling.  

The positives...

Being in charge of your own destiny, knowing the decisions you make each day are yours. You have to become an entire business overnight (accounts, HR, marketing and business development) so you never truly switch off, but it also allows you to have a blank piece of paper without restrictions. 

The negatives...

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As a freelancer it can be very lonely, so surround yourself with people you can rely on for advice. Also, income can fluctuate as there is no single payday anymore.

Top 3 tips:

  1. There will be times when you feel lonely, concerned or have had a client loss, which can lead to you losing confidence, but surround yourself with other business owners as we all experience the same thing. Always follow your gut - you believe in your business, have put in the hard work and know what you want.

  2. Add courses, networking events and seminars to your monthly to-do list for personal development.

  3. Be sensible - pay your taxes, get insured and don’t spend all your money.

Megan McCormick, founder of Oneday Theatre

Theatre and Dance School;   

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Through years of acting experience and enjoyment working with children, Megan opened a children’s theatre school, expanding to create classes for babies, toddlers and adults.

The positives...

Doing something you enjoy and seeing others enjoy what you have created. 

The negatives...

The financial risk is very stressful and you might not make any money for a while! 

Top 3 tips:

  1. Believe in your idea.

  2. Make sure you have emotional support from family and friends when it gets tough! 

  3. When working for yourself it’s hard to switch off, so take breaks and when you return the work will be easier to tackle.

Written by Hannah Bird, who can be found as @thehbird on Instagram.

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