Female Entrepreneur: Sara Knowles
What motivated you to start your business?
After my job of 12 years was made redundant, I wanted to continue the work I loved, but it was in a niche area. I worked in the field of cultural relations as a learning consultant and education specialist. Traditional job search techniques did not produce any satisfactory results, but by leveraging social media I attracted some incredible opportunities. These included being invited by the Slovenian Embassy to speak at an event for diplomats and business leaders in Holland, meeting the Cabinet Secretary and TV Dragon Peter Jones and being interviewed (about my story of reinvention and business) for BBC Radio4 by Eddie Mair.
Tell us about your business.
MojoLife helps business and individuals to find their mojo, their ‘voice’. We help them to define what makes them distinctive and craft and deliver a compelling story, both online and through their face-to-face interactions. So we provide training and coaching in presentation skills and public speaking, marketing and communications consultancy and keynote/motivational speaking. Storytelling is at the heart of what we do and we have developed a showcase of incredible stories of entrepreneurship, reinvention and how ordinary people have overcome challenges to create extraordinary things – it’s called MojoLifeTV.
What is a day in the life of you like?
Every day is extraordinary and flys by. On my drive to our office in Manchester I often discuss the day ahead and new ideas with my business partner or make business calls. There is no typical day, but every one is full of new people, opportunities and challenges. My work is incredibly varied – it may include designing learning materials, developing and marketing a new programme, attending networking events, meeting clients, business planning, managing the accounts, hosting events, managing our social media, updating our website with new content or interviewing someone for MojoLife TV or being a speaker at an event.
What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?
The biggest challenges have been having to juggle so many things – maintaining a pipeline of new business, while managing the product/service delivery and operational needs of the business, not to mention family life (as a full time working mum). It has also been challenging being a start up in the recession, with virtually no budget or previous business (private sector) experience. It has been a very steep learning curve, exhilarating and daunting at times, but fascinating, exciting and definitely worth it.
How did you overcome these challenges?
One of the things that helped enormously is having a business partner whose skills complement mine, so we are able to work on the things best suited to our interests and skills. It has also been important for moral support – being able to pick each other up when things have been tough.
I had to think entrepreneurially to ge the business off the ground – gaining sponsorship from other companies to enable us to exhibit at an event, running our own (low cost) events and speaking at events helped us enourmously to gain profile and market our services. I also invested a lot of time in networking widely (both face to face and through LinkedIn) and building relationships – I cannot over emphasise the importance of this.
Also, finding a good accountancy firm that was able to advise us on business development, corporate structure and both management and financial accountancy…this has improved my business life no end!
What have you found to be the most effective way to get new clients?
By far the most effective way has been by speaking at events on themes related to the services we offer – business fairs, corporate events and for membership organisations. It is important to know your target audience though and to ensure your audience is right for the message you have and your wider business goals.
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Know your story, craft and deliver it well and get other people to start telling it for you.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I visualise success and the big picture of what I want to achieve in life in general. I also consider times when things have been tough and I have found a solution or something has happended that moved things forwards – I think this kind of experience gives you the confidence to know business and life in general is all about ups and downs and that’s normal and necessary!
What’s your favourite quote?
‘Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.’
Rumi – a Persian philosopher/poet
Who inspires you?
Ordinary people who achieve extraordinary things. Some of them are interviewed on our video channel, MojoLife TV
Do you have a business philosophy?
Business is an extension of who you are and what you stand for; a thing to be loved, nurtured and respected and never taken for granted.
Get in touch…