The Thrive Effect: My Start-Up Story So Far
12 months ago, I embarked on a start-up journey with – quite frankly – no plan, just an idea and a passion to raise the profile of female entrepreneurs in Sussex. Originally starting out as a free business magazine exclusively featuring female founders, my social enterprise has gone through various iterations whilst I have tested my start-up hypotheses and developed into becoming a purpose-led membership organisation for female founders in Sussex.
Having just finished my first year of trading, it seemed like an appropriate time to reflect on my start-up journey to date. As The Thrive Effect is all about encouraging people to share and learn from each other’s experiences, it seemed fitting that I share my own start-up experience, so that other social entrepreneurs can learn from it.
1. Have a vision
I am a visual thinker and one of my strengths is being able to picture my business ambitions. From the very beginning of my start-up journey, I have had a clear image in my head of what I would like to achieve with the work of The Thrive Effect. This vision motivates me and drives me forward, particularly when I am experiencing moments of self-doubt. My vision even became a reality at one point when I won a cash prize in a national competition I had aspired to win!
2. Don’t be afraid to get your ideas out there. Just do it
If you have an idea, don’t waste too much time procrastinating! Develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test out your idea as soon as is feasibly possible, so you can see whether there is an actual need for your products or services, and whether people are genuinely prepared to pay for them. Listen to your clients and end users’ feedback, and tweak things accordingly.
3. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Say ‘yes’ lots
Although it can feel very scary at the time, try to accept opportunities which push you out of your comfort zone! A couple of months ago, I was invited onto BBC Radio Sussex to talk about The Thrive Effect. Although I am used to delivering workshops and talking in public, I have no experience of talking on live radio. Despite it being a daunting experience at the time (!), I know that I am now more confident when talking on radio, and as a result, I recently accepted a second invitation to participate in a radio interview – this time without hesitation!
4. Find lots of cheerleaders and lean on them
Starting out can be an extremely exciting experience, but it can also be a very lonely one. Make sure you find some people who can cheer you along throughout your entrepreneurial journey, and who can act as a sounding board whenever you are looking for guidance. Don’t underestimate the power of a supportive network, and don’t be afraid to ask them for help and advice when you need it.
5. Experiment with your business model until you find something that works
Any start-up plan is just a plan, until you test it out in the marketplace. So, if your initial plans for generating revenue don’t work out as well as anticipated, talk to your clients (as well as The Good Business Club!) to identify how you can change your business model in order to build a more financially sustainable venture.
6. Be prepared for knock-backs
On a financial note, be aware that just because someone “loves” your product or service, it doesn’t mean that they will actually pay for it. This is why it is essential that you test the market with some kind of a MVP before you proceed to create a fully formed product or service.
7. Partner up
When you first start up, it can be very difficult raising your profile within the marketplace or community – particularly if you have a tight marketing budget. So, it can be very beneficial to partner up with relevant people or organisations who share your values. For The Thrive Effect, I have been very fortunate to have received support from Barclays Eagle Lab in Brighton. Not only do they enable me to host my monthly Meetups at the Lab, they also partner with me for a quarterly business brunch featuring talks delivered by female founders. Not only has this collaboration enabled me to host my events in a suitable location, it has also allowed me to reach more female founders and business supporters via their network.
Clare Griffiths is an award-winning entrepreneurship educator, business support practitioner and social entrepreneur, all rolled into one, whose passion lies in enabling individuals to realise their business ambitions. She founded The Thrive Effect to create practical learning resources, networking opportunities and events for female founders.