For Lisa Johnson, the path to entrepreneurial success has had lots of twists and turns, but it was only after becoming a mum to twins that she decided to take control and start her own business. Five years on, Lisa has a fully-booked urban wedding planning business, Carmela Weddings, and is now sharing her experience and business knowledge to help other women in the wedding industry through her coaching business Just Own This.
In this month’s In the Hive interview Lisa is sharing with us her story and how she balances multiple businesses and motherhood.
Can you tell us how you got started in the industry?
Well, I’ve had a strange road to getting here. After trying my hand at being a lawyer, TV Presenter and Actress, I fell into a role as Business Analyst in an investment bank. It was good money but very long hours and I wasn’t feeling especially fulfilled. I then had my twin sons, went back to work when they were 5 months old and knew I couldn’t go back to doing those hours and never seeing the twins. I got a local job as an Executive Assistant planning all of the corporate events for the company and realised that it was now or never for my dream of owning my own business. I’d loved the event planning side and so Carmela Weddings was born.
After achieving massive success with Carmela Weddings, you’re now also offering coaching packages through Just Own This. Can you tell us more about that?
In my 3rd year of business I was fully booked twice over. I had learned so much about business. I had read everything I could get my hands on and picked up a lot from my own high level coaches. I knew what it was like to be trying everything and not bringing in clients or not even knowing how to start your business so after a few requests, I started to help other women with their businesses through giving advice and sharing what mistakes I had made in my journey as well as what had worked. They started having great success really quickly, which was great!
I realised that coaching was my calling and so this year I officially started Just Own This to help ambitious determined women live their ideal lives through excelling in their own businesses and I absolutely love it! I have a Facebook group with some really ambitious lovely women in and we all help each other.
We all make mistakes in business, especially when starting out. What mistakes have you made, and what did you learn from them?
So many! The biggest mistake I made was not working out who my ideal client was first. I just rushed straight in! This meant a complete rebrand a year later – costly. Assuming I knew what problems my ideal client wanted me to solve was my second. I hadn’t bothered to just ask. Business can be so simple and yet we have such a tendency to complicate it. If you have a message and it gets in front of the people who need it, you will be successful. Instead of realising this, I just had a scattergun marketing approach and spent a lot of money marketing in all the wrong places!
Another biggie was not getting support from the start. If we want to learn how to get fit, we hire a personal trainer yet when I wanted to learn about business and success, it took me over a year to seek help from a business coach who had been there and could help me.
How did those lessons transform your business and get you to where you are today?
Those lessons made my business because one of my aims for my own clients in Just Own This is to stop entrepreneurs from making those costly mistakes. I don’t want any women out there thinking that they can’t design their business to work for them, to be able to see their kids more or travel while working, to leave their 9-5. Whatever success looks like for them, it’s all doable with the right strategy and mindset.
Many wedding businesses start as a hobby and become something more. What tips do you have for anyone thinking about making the jump to full-time self-employed life?
My biggest tip is not to make the jump straight away. If you have a back up in the form of a part time salaried position, you will take bigger better risks in your business and so will grow quickly. You’ll know when the time is right to make the big leap.
My second tip is to treat your business as a business. In other words, don’t do freebies and set your pricing to make money. If you don’t do this, you’re just running an expensive hobby!
You are a mum of twins (gulp!) and live in London with your family. How does family life affect how you run your business?
The best thing about it is I know why I’m doing it. Having kids can really focus you on your goals and I want my children to have a great life in a nice house and have opportunities that may not have been available to me growing up. A goal like that can keep you going when it gets tough, which it will in every business!
It’s made me great at scheduling! Every hour I have has to be accounted for, so that I schedule in time for the businesses, time for family and time for me. It also meant I hired in support much quicker than I would have otherwise and certainly before I could really afford to because I knew I had to invest to make sure I had time to grow the business. I had a cleaner, ironing lady, business coach, virtual assistant and interns way before I could really afford to. I’m so thankful for that because when I look back I can see how these investments made me think bigger about my businesses and grow much faster than I would’ve otherwise.
Do you use any apps or tools to make running your business easier?
Lots! I love technology and my VA has helped enormously in this area. I use social media scheduling apps like Later.com and Planoly, calendar apps to schedule discovery calls and business apps like 17hats. Anything that can be automated gets automated!
We hear a lot of talk about ‘mumpreneurs’ and ‘fempreneurs’ in the wider business world, as well as the terms #girlboss and #bosslady. Do you think being a woman, and a mum makes it harder to ‘make it’ in business, and should successful women be singled out or celebrated as different to their male counterparts?
I think it can be harder because we allow ourselves to be seen as the main childcare provider. I’ve never taken this view however and childcare in our household is shared equally so it’s no harder for me to run a business than for my Husband to. Although I see why we use the terms (it can certainly help our ideal clients resonate with us if our clients are also Mums) I actually really dislike the term mumpreneur because to me it’s patronising and it’s pushing the focus of my whole role as a business woman onto one single fact about me – that I have children. When I see the term Dadpreneurs banded about as frequently, I’ll have less of an issue with it!
What’s your definition of success?
My definition of success is freedom. I’m call myself a Freedom Coach because success means something different to everyone but the one thing most of us want in life is freedom to live it on our own terms and in our own way. For some financial success can give that freedom, for others having a business that gives them more time.
Do you think women can ‘have it all’ when it comes to running a successful business and having a fulfilling family life?
Yes of course – you can see it everywhere you look these days. A successful business to me means being able to have time as a family as that’s what was missing in my corporate life. It helps to have a partner that shares your values on work/life balance and shares everything else that comes with having a family too. Being organised is the real key to success here.
This month we’re looking at how women can turn their struggles and challenges into positives. What advice would you give business owners to help them do this more successfully?
The biggest piece of advice is to learn from every struggle. Take something away that will help you move your business forward. I’ve had so many challenges in both of my businesses but I learn from them all and I’m more successful as a result than if it had been an easy ride.
We’re looking forward to hosting your Money Mindset workshop at the Hive on 25th April 2017. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Money mindset is one of the biggest struggles my clients have. To be successful you have to think about money like other successful people do. You have to be wealth conscious. Everyone has their own money story (and most don’t even know they have!) which has a huge impact on whether we bring in the money we want or not. Once I sorted out my own money mindset with the help of my coach, things began to change for me very quickly and so I hope to help others have the same results.
How can we get hold of tickets?
Tickets cost £99 are available in the Hive Shop!