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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Reed

Inspiring business advice: Top five lessons

I recently attended Stylist Live at London's Business Design Centre, which featured 150 talks and workshops led by an array of inspiring women. Stylist is my favourite magazine in the world. Unlike many of other women's magazines which have a habit of fuelling female insecurities, I think it's genuinely empowering and motivating; tackling lots of relevant issues that face women.

Therefore, I was obviously very excited to go to its event and be in the presence of wonderful female role models; from business leaders such as Liz Earle (beauty entrepreneur), Belinda Parmar (CEO of Lady Geek) and Cassandra Stavrou (Founder of Propercorn) to Spice Girl, Melanie C!

It was great to hear their success stories and advice. I thought I'd round-up some of the highlights, as well as some of my own lessons that I've learnt over the past ten years of my career. Here are the top five:

1) Be persistent

Some important advice shared by Liz Earle was never to take "no" for an answer when building a business; that's there's always a solution to an issue if you persist. I think determination is one of the most vital characteristics if you want to do well in business. If I'm passionate about something, I'll put every effort possible into making sure it works out. The Founder of a social media marketing agency that I worked at in the U.S. definitely reinforced the importance of determination to me, especially when it came to generating new client leads and persuading clients why they should work with us. I learnt a lot from that experience and it's been something that I've put into practice when running my own social media business in the UK.

2) Confidence comes with time and experience - don't let it defeat you

Melanie C - aka Sporty Spice! - said at Stylist Live that she's felt more confident with age. Something I struggled with in the early years of my career - and even at times later on - was self doubt. The nagging feeling that I didn't belong in a certain job role; that I didn't have the right experience or was too young. It took me a while to realise I WAS qualified to do all of my former jobs. A good thing about this lack of confidence was that it motivated me to work hard and generate good results. I also never let it defeat me - it's important to push through it. My advice to anyone at the beginning of their career who is feeling a similar way would be to seek support from a mentor. I'd have loved to have a mentor in my earlier years.

3) Make the sales process all about the client

This sounds obvious but when you're selling your service to a prospective client, it can be tempting to begin with talking about what you do, your background, what fantastic services you offer, etc. Something that was, once again, reinforced at the social media marketing agency I worked at in the U.S. was the importance of focusing on the client's needs and what exactly it is you can offer to help them!

4) The idea is just 10% of business success

Cassandra Stavrou (Founder of Propercorn) said that when building a business, the idea/product is just 10% of what you need to succeed; that you need in place a range of elements, including good accountancy, PR, social media marketing, design, staff, etc. Once again, this is probably very obvious but it's important to have a grip of all these other factors and if you don't know how to do them, ask for help from someone who does. My younger sister has an art business (I may be biased but she's very talented. Check out her feel-good art here) and this is something she's had to learn along the way. Being incredibly creative, at first creating the art was her main focus but she's now thinking like a business woman and, for example, using social media marketing to drive sales. In fact, 95% of her sales come from social media.

5) Slow down

This was a piece of advice that Liz Earle shared and it really resonated with me. She said that her business partner used to say: "If a decision needs to be now, it's no," as she felt it was important to consider everything carefully. Liz said that if an opportunity was meant to be, it would still be available in the future. I have a tendency to operate at a million miles an hour and love to multi-task. Especially with the nature of what I do - managing social media channels for businesses - I feel like I am switched on 24/7; constantly checking and responding to notifications and emails. It was refreshing to be reminded that it's not only OK to slow down, but can be beneficial to your business if you do so.

What important business lessons have you learnt? Did you go to Stylist Live too and hear advice from any other inspirational speakers?

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