5 powerful truths about business that I learned at Girl Tribe Gang Live

 
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On Saturday morning I got up at 5am despite the fact that my children were staying at my mum’s house. I got ready in record time and set out on my journey in the pitch dark. At 6am I picked up my friend Lisa, founder of Mama Be Kind, and set off on what turned out to be a four hour journey to Manchester. Why? Because Saturday was the first annual Girl Tribe Gang Live event, and I knew it would be well worth the effort!

I was right. I left later that day hugely inspired, with a notebook full of ideas and a handful of new friends and contacts. I also had the privilege of speaking on a panel about blogging - I absolutely love having the opportunity to give other business owners the tools they need to start thinking about their content more strategically and using it to further their business goals.

Today, I wanted to share some of the important lessons I learned about business at Girl Tribe Gang Live.

We all need support

Catherine Asta Labbett is the inspiring founder behind Girl Tribe Gang. She’s an award-winning psychotherapist and coach and started the collective just over a year ago, having moved from the NHS to private practice and found the process of working for herself to be kind of lonely. Since then it’s grown impressively quickly, with over 30 tribes across the UK, including Bristol.

It was great to meet Catherine in person for the first time at #GTGLive18. Her whole ethos is one of support, collaboration and authenticity and the event space was full of inspirational posters and prints - designed by Bristol Tribe Boss Amy Goodall of I Should B - which summed up the heart of GTG. Like this reminder for the speakers: “The only thing that matters in public speaking is not confidence, not stage presence, or smooth talking. It’s having something worthy to say.”

Hire slow, fire fast

There were several sessions to choose from in the morning but I wanted to go to the #fiercefemales panel because I love hearing how other entrepreneurs have got where they are today - and the challenges they’ve overcome along the way. I wasn’t disappointed by Annie Holt (Ethereal London), Emily Fitchett (Fitch Brew Co), Suzie Walker (The Primal Pantry), and Claire Hurst (Primo Distribution), whose journeys reminded me that the path to business success is rarely straightforward.

Suzie’s story in particular spoke to me. She shared the challenges she has faced around staffing her business - the people who were the wrong fit and needed to be let go, those who were the right fit but left. At one point she went from 26 employees to 11, an idea which - as someone who is currently just building up a team - filled me with dread! And yet she has emerged from the experience stronger, with a thriving brand. And I’m determined to learn from her experience. As fellow panelist Emily Fitchett said, “Hire slow, fire fast.”

Sexism won’t stop us

I wish I could say I was shocked by the story that Annie Holt, founder of Ethereal London, shared during her panel. In a nutshell, when she applied for funding, she did so in two stages. The first meeting she attended by herself - and was patronised and essentially dismissed by the man she was meeting with. The second time, she deliberately took her husband - an experienced accountant - along, and instantly secured the finance she needed.

Statistics show that sexism is rife in startup investment, with just 9% going to businesses with a female founder in 2016, despite the fact that female led businesses are less likely to fail. There’s no doubt that needs to change. But I love how Annie didn’t slink off and lick her wounds. She knew that having a man in the room would get her what she needed and so she played the system and got it. The more women we have succeeding in the entrepreneurial space, the more power we have to change the way that things like investment work.

You know more than you think

Imposter syndrome is something many business owners I know would admit to. I definitely have moments where I worry that I’m about to be exposed as a fraud who has no idea what I’m actually doing! But I think it’s easy to forget just how much we do know, simply because to us it’s… well, stuff we know.

I was reminded of this during the Q&A session after the blogging panel I took part in. All of the questions were very sensible, but it was encouraging to remember that there are lots of things I know that other people don’t. I might be winging it in lots of ways but when it comes to copywriting, I really do know my stuff. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of what we’re good at.

Be true to yourself

One of the inspiring speaker at GTGLive18 was radio presenter Stephanie Hirst - formerly Simon Hirst. “Simon” was outwardly very successful, an award-winning DJ working at Capital Radio in London. But the reality was that she was suicidally depressed. Making the physical transition to become the woman she knew she was inside would, she thought, ruin her career. But she knew that she had to do it. And you know what? She didn’t lose everything. She still has a successful career, but now she has it as herself.

My take away from this is that it doesn’t matter how successful you are - how much your turnover increases, have many clients or staff you have - if you’re not happy then it’s all pointless. For me as an employer, I would extend that sentiment to include my team. Mental wellbeing in the workplace - and in life generally - has to be a priority, because everything is built on that. Which is why I will continue to put my own happiness and that of my team firmly on the business agenda.

So there we have it. Some important lessons in business from the incredible team at Girl Tribe Gang. I’ll definitely be back for next year’s event and I’d definitely recommend booking a ticket. In the meantime, if you’re looking for fun, support and inspiration then come along to your local Girl Tribe Gang meet up. You won’t be disappointed.

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