Corina Kellam made our shortlist of five female entrepreneurs up for the title of Stylist's Business Ambassador - and now she's sharing her secrets to set you on the path to business success. A former journalist, Corina, 29, founded Life History Books – an affordable memoir service – two years ago. Already, it spans five countries and works with a team of 32. Here are the five key things she would pass on to future businesswomen.
1) Keep control of your website
Learn an easy program like Dreamweaver, pay a good designer £500 for a straightforward six-page website, take a two-hour lesson on how to use it, and make sure no-one else but you is in charge of it. With a small business, flexibility means being lucrative. You can speak to a client and five minutes later have a new service or product on your website. Give it to someone else and it could take three days. Your website should be an immediate reflection of your business. Don’t put someone else in charge of it.
2) Wake up to your business
Every morning, when you wake up, make a list of the three things you want to achieve that day. Your mind is freer at that point in the day, before distractions from employees and clients creep in. I’ve stuck to it for a year and it really helps me get tasks done, and helps me feel more fulfilled when I do.
3) Demand brutal honesty (and act on the feedback)
Not just from friends but from strangers you’ve really tested in your target market. When I first set out, I found all the feedback too confusing, so I didn’t listen. But a year later it finally hit home and I made the difficult decision to change everything. It was time consuming, but worth it. I just wished I’d listened in the first place.
4) Practise makes perfect
Write down the three messages you want clients to understand about you and what your company offers. Then video yourself presenting your business to an imagined audience for 10 seconds, 30 seconds, and two minutes. These are your ‘adverts’ and are a great learning tool for establishing how to present to clients and employees.
5) Money saved is money made
In the first year of my business I didn’t go out, I barely spent a penny. You don’t need a fancy desk to start a business, your sofa is free. All the money should be in the business, because clients sense when it starts to run out. When you need a sale you won’t get it. Scrimping is the only way to get there.