Celia Rizothanasi, shares her story of setting up her consultancy and becoming a Queen Bee of LinkedIn.
Blissfully ignorant – that is how I describe myself when I left a successful marketing career in corporate to set up a consultancy in 2010. 'How hard can it be?', I thought.
Twelve years later, with a few bumps in the road and with more room for mistakes, here is what I have learned - so far.
(Re)discover your natural strengths
We all have natural superpowers. It is that ultimate state of flow when we are in our element, loving what we do and knowing we are so good at it. Creativity, inspiration, and delivery all merge - and the results are wonderful, for us and our clients.
But sometimes we disconnect. Whether it is a corporate culture or trying to do everything when we work by ourselves; we get pulled into all different directions. Being out of flow is miserable place to be.
I used advanced personality profiling to remind me where my natural strengths are. Ever since, I purposefully design my weeks to spend most of my time in my entrepreneurial bliss. For me this is training and developing marketing plans. I seek to partner with others who have complementary strengths to mine and outsource the rest. I have never looked back.
Invest in your personal development
Read avidly and train yourself ferociously. Surviving and thriving in the wild demands that we elevate ourselves into pro status. Not just in our core skills but everything to do in business.
Leaving the shielded existence in corporate, I quickly discovered that I had to develop a solid understanding of all the key areas in my business. No excuses. And the fastest way to do this is to read (good) books and train.
As a Chartered Marketer I have to demonstrate training of minimum 35 hours per year. I am proud that I have maintained this status for the last 12 consecutive years. (There are only 3,000 Chartered Marketers in the UK!)
In addition, every single week I read business books - anything from quick reads on Blinkist or the monthly book for my Read to Inspire book club. Reading books with others and sharing your thoughts embeds the learning even further.
Find your tribe
'Go out networking', they said. So, I did.
Fresh out of corporate I had no idea what this was but went for it anyway. Visited loads of groups, gave out lots of cards, met lots of people. It was very hit and miss. There were some serendipitous moments, and they are so beautiful when they happen, but mostly it was hard work. Something had to change.
The decision to move away from haphazard networking to a more strategic approach has been critical in growing my business. I came up with some criteria and decided to go hunting for my tribe – the group of professionals with whom I resonated the most. Then I committed - that’s where the the magic happens.
Get (the right) mentor
In my last corporate role, my director had actively encouraged me to get mentors. But finding the right one can be tricky.
Over the years, I met some good people while others tripped me up. Learning to assess who is a good fit, fast, is a valuable skill to hone. One I am still developing.
Doing my due diligence, (I paid the price when I did not), knowing they are out there working on their own business and that they have a genuine interest in what I do are some of the key criteria which have helped me over the years. Having someone by my side is non-negotiable for me now.
Work on your mindset
Our mindset defines everything in our lives, and it can be a huge blocker - in what we believe we can achieve, how much we are worth, on how big, or small, our business can become.
It turns out I have few of those myself. Some I already knew; others surprised me. I realised that developing further my emotional intelligence and becoming more aware of my blind spots was critical in my success. This is where having a good mentor and being in the right tribe can make a difference.
More training ensued. Guided meditation, gratitude exercises and journaling are some of the techniques I still practice on a weekly basis.
Asking for constructive feedback has also become a habit. Colleagues I highly value openly share their perspective of what has worked and what has not. And I am incredibly grateful for that.
Oh, and don’t forget to look back to see how far you have come. I might, just might, have ticked that one of my list.
New Year – updated plans
So here we are at the beginning of a new year and my plans are big for this year. I have rebranded to Queen Bee Marketing Hive and launching new implementation services. I have recruited digital bees who will help me, and my clients move forward.
Yours in flow.