Last week I had the pleasure of introducing you to Alice Holden and Fleurette Mulcahy from Attollo Lingerie in the latest instalment of my blog series, ‘Entrepreneurs in 2019: Born or made?’.
In the first interview, the guys shared the personal reasons why two geography students threw caution to the wind and launched their first ever business. This week we discuss the importance of looking after yourself as well as your business (a subject very close to my heart), the importance of revisiting the purpose behind your business to inspire you to keep going when times get tough and what a real super hero looks like!
A little refresher: Attollo is a London based lingerie business built on supporting and empowering fuller-busted women. Fleur and Alice weren’t willing to accept that in the current lingerie market in Britain, D+ cup sized women had to constantly compromise between style and support. Driven by this desire to empower women and shake up the industry, these two university students embarked on a bold entrepreneurial journey that I found incredibly insightful and inspiring.
As with all the incredible entrepreneurs I have gotten to know through this series, Fleur and Alice have so much wisdom to share and experiences to learn from. Every story is different.
If you’re looking to build your own business, it’s definitely worth checking out the full interview. I’ve also jotted down my top five take-always here:
1. Reach out to business owners and entrepreneurs who are a few steps ahead. Ask for their feedback and advice. You’d be surprised at how willing people are to help if you only ask.
2. Think outside the box when it comes to developing your pitch and communicating the problem in the current market.
3. Stand out when you network. Meet with investors and key business contacts face-to-face, even if that means turning up to their offices unannounced. It’s too easy to get lost in the crowd at networking events and via e-mail introductions.
4. Never lose sight of your purpose and core business values. Personal determination and an altruistic vision should charge your entrepreneurial spirit.
5. Maintain perspective. This comes down to instilling work-life balance and recognising when you need to take a step back. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed and lose sight of your purpose when you’re building a business from the ground up. By practicing mindfulness, you can recognise when you’re losing balance. That’s when it’s time to take a moment to regain your purpose.
After living off £1 egg sandwiches every day for a year, Fleur and Alice learnt that if you don’t look after yourself, you can't look after your business.
In my role on the Leadership Team at Virgin Management over the last decade, I’ve been particularly dedicated to People and Purpose. At Virgin, we believe that you cannot have purpose-led business without prioritising employee wellbeing.
We strive to implement innovative people policies and recognise that our people deserve all that we can offer. I’m delighted to see that businesses across the board are placing an increasing emphasis on employee wellness.
So, budding entrepreneurs, listen up! You may be the founder, the sole shareholder, the only employee - and feel at times that your family are your only customers - but if you don’t take time to rest, have a bit of fun and put your work-life balance in perspective, you’ll have no business left to stress over!
To conclude the interview, I wanted to ask Fleur and Alice their thoughts on whether an entrepreneur is born or made.
The good news — both were adamant that anyone can be an entrepreneur. Fleur and Alive simply believe you need to have a personal connection to the problem your business is looking to solve and the drive to be the one who solves it.
It sounds like entrepreneurs can come in all shapes and (cup) sizes and if you’re personally driven to change business for good, you really can do anything. As one Attollo customer put it:
“Not all heroes wear capes, some wear really good bras.”
Next month, I talk to a husband and wife team about how they have handled launching a business from scratch and still stay married!