It is 8.45am on a drizzly and soggy Saturday in June, (got to love the British summertime!) and I am sitting, shivering, on the doorstep of a trendy west end restaurant. Clutching my bag of props and laptop I await the arrival of a staff member to let me in. This is it. It’s D-day! Why do we always give ‘firsts’ a war reference? Maybe it’s Do-or-Die Day! I take a few moments to gather my thoughts and reflect upon the journey so far.
The start up honeymoon
I settled on the idea of running a training and mentoring business just for women about a year ago and I recall the clarity with which the original vision came to me and the way it warmed the cockles of my heart. I had created a process for tapping into the true source of purpose and passion and had tried it out on myself first. It had been liberating: I, Salli Glover, would become the Super-Heroine of Women changing the world! What followed were a couple of months of absolute euphoria as I ran around town sharing my great idea with anyone that would listen and began to research the market need. It all stacked up: The Government were on a mission to have more female representation at board level; Harvard, McKinsey, Deloitte and Bain were all extolling the virtues of women in leadership roles and business. Even the Queen got hot on the trail and changed a 300 year old law ensuring that the first born inherits the thrown – even if, wait for it, it’s a girl!
I was in heaven during that honeymoon period, I had a head filled with romantic notions of sell out programmes, women living outrageously delicious lives, employing my team of super-savvy female marketers and PR girls as I took up with the Big Boys in government and business and showed them that this indeed was the way. Bless me.
Beware – starting up can delay start up!
So I did what any sensible woman on a mission would do and I sought the help of experts. Many experts. Way too many experts. I’m not really sure what happened to the months of February, March and April, we could have had a freak tropical heatwave and I’d have been none the wiser. I lost my way, turned into a child of the cyber forests, got eaten by cookie monsters, tweeted and twitted and heard things about spiders that I still don’t understand, and I think if I had stayed there I may well have never come back from the void.
In amongst all of that noise and overwhelm and information overload, there was a little voice whispering to me from the echoes of my soul; “just get on with it Salli” and the occasional “stop fannying around” for good measure. I ignored her of course. I mean, couldn’t she see I was TRYING? Had she no idea how much there is to be learned? You can’t just START goddamit! What about brand positioning, and online presence, and building a list, joint ventures, content marketing, there’s blogs that need to be written, lead conversion to be considered and for goodness sake where have you been woman? That rush hour traffic to Successville is not going to drive itself to my website. Oh no, SEO, Google analytics, keyword search tool. Just make it STOP, please, someone just make it stop. To be honest there were days the noise in my head became so loud that I questioned whether I was launching a business or developing bipolar.
And so, concerned that I may well be certifiable, I brought myself back from the brink, and into the real world; where the real people live their very real every day lives and have real conversations with people who have actual faces. It was like The Awakening; suddenly the world had colour again. I noticed birds and trees for the first time in months. Even the rain made me feel alive. I reconnected with Women, starting contributing to them and their causes; I smiled a lot more and most importantly of all got realigned to my WHY. Ah, yes, my original purpose: To inspire Women to create a world that works for everyone. There she is.
Just get on with it!
Now this may sound like a personal breakthrough, hurrah, I’ve reconnected with my purpose and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow suddenly appears. But no. I knew there was something else going on with me, beneath the perfectly acceptable shop front with the sign saying ‘gone learning, back some day’. I was interested in the truth beneath the truth. I was interested in that little whisper calling to me ‘just get on with it Salli’.
And there it was: I was hiding. Hiding from just getting on with it. The more I had focused my energies into a whole new realm of ever changing rules and strategies the farther away I had gotten from my real burning passion – to teach. To share stories and move people and take them on a journey. And in doing so I had also forgotten to take them on my journey. A lesson well learnt.
Enjoy the start up journey
Taking people on the journey with you is a Must. I have found compassion, support, collaboration and the best forms of advice since doing so. And people love the authenticity of a Woman on a mission who isn’t pretending to know it all; at no point do I declare that I have all the secrets to a ‘millionaire mind’ or gloat over my 6 figure sales breakthrough, and my customers and collaborators alike appear to respect me all the more for it. I make no apology at all for being a startup, and my brochures may not yet be glossy and my venues may not yet be exclusive but at the same time my early adopters are aware that they are reaping the rewards of this by virtue of not being charged extra for all those luxury trimmings. I have also been told that my startup status makes me more accessible, more real and in reach than if I was a big hitting industry name. In short, they can relate to me and I to them.
So it turns out there was no need to hide. That fear of being exposed as the fraudulent, inexperienced, new kid on the block was irrational, as all of our womanly fears tend to be. Paradoxically it was coming out of hiding and being raw and honest that won people over more in the end. I wish someone had told me this information in February (was there a freak heatwave by the way? I really have no idea). Then maybe I would have just got on with it and the little voice in my head could have bugged me about something else instead, like my split ends or how far behind I am on planning my imminent wedding…
As I sit there on that cold doorstep pondering my navel I have another realisation which makes me smile and glow all at once: St Martins Lane, heart of the Theatre District, and a much loved teenage haunt of mine. As a Cornish girl I had dreamed of appearing in the West End one day and would often wander up this road past all the hustle and bustle of lovies and theatre goers in total awe of the bright lights and the big city. In the end it turned out I didn’t get on with the ‘fakery’ of that world and so here I am, just little old me, sitting on a step in the West End, about to give the performance of my lifetime: As Salli Glover, just being me.
The event, contrary to little Miss Bipolar’s fears did not in fact crash, burn, self destruct or implode and was a roaring success, leaving me with only one question: What took me so long?
So, if you’re wondering whether you’re ready to get going or not, take a little advice from my little voice: Just get on with it! (And do try to enjoy the ride, freak heat wave’s are a rare commodity and not to be missed).