Are you thinking about starting a business as an artist and unsure of how you can make it in the creative industry? Camilla D’Errico (successful urban contemporary painter, illustrator, character creator and comic book artist) shares her journey of pursuing art, learning the business and building a loyal fan base. She details the first steps she took in starting a business as an artist and how she was able to work with brands like Disney, Hasbro and Wiz Kids.

Whether you are an artist or not this interview is full of tips, tricks, and overall encouragement for any woman looking to dominate her industry and make an impact through her work.

How long have you been an artist and how did you start?

I’ve been an artist all my life. My mother told me that I was born with an artist’s hands, so from an early age I was always drawing. My art journey started in high school by taking every art elective I could and continued my education at Okanagan University and Capilano University. I built my skills with years of learning various techniques and different styles.

I had to struggle with prejudice against anime and manga as a serious art style. Luckily, I’m pretty obstinate, so when someone tells me I can’t do something, I tend to stubbornly prove them wrong. I started in comic books in 1998 when I went to San Diego Comic-Con and showed my portfolio to various publishers. From there, everything began to take shape and eventually, I became a painter in 2004. 

The owner of Ayden Gallery in Vancouver loved my art and encouraged me to create a series of paintings on canvas, which I had previously never done before. From there, I went down the “painter’s rabbit hole”. I think my biggest take away in life has been to expect the unexpected and jump on opportunities when they present themselves. I may not have intended to be a painter but I’m incredibly happy that I risked it.

 

How did you turn your artwork into a thriving business?

It took time and lots of hard work. It all started with going to local comic book shows and building up an audience. Then I collaborated with local clothing businesses to merge my art with their lines. From there I started to work with my sister, who was a businesswoman, and she helped me with the contracts, business model and expanding my reach. After my sister left to work on her own business, I built a team that helped with fulfillments, contracts, and keeping things organised.

When starting a business as an artist, you have to work with people that you trust and that believe in the product, in this case, my artwork. I love working hard and making sure I stay on top of marketing, licenses, ordering, and building out my five-year plan. Keeping the business going means working hard, finding ways to budget and build, and always pushing forward and overcoming challenges.

 

What challenges did you face in starting a business as an artist?

There were so many challenges and there still are. I think the hardest thing about starting a business as an artist is how the world evolves and how you have to stay ahead of the game. When I first started there was no such thing as social media and then, of course, Facebook changed everything.

After that came Instagram and now we have curated algorithms which at times make it frustrating trying to stay ahead. I’ve been doing art for twenty years and I’ve seen industries fall (the paper industry), I’ve seen industries rise (online selling) and it has never been easy.

There were also the times when people didn’t follow through on their deals so now I know from experience to always have a contract even with friends or people you’ve worked with for years. At any time things can change and the saying “it’s not personal it’s just business” will eventually bite you in the butt if you don’t protect yourself.

 

How did you connect with high profile companies like Disney for partnerships and catch celebrity attention?

I go to so many conventions and get my art in front of thousands of people. Having a booth with my art is like a beacon in the ocean. There are scouts from companies that go to cons and seek out talent. That’s how I got my chance to work with Disney, Hasbro, and Wiz Kids, to name a few. The celebrities? Well, that I can’t tell you. I think along the way people noticed my art and some of it went viral online, which may be how I got on their radar.

 

What are effective tools or methods you use to market yourself?

Going to conventions, trade shows, markets, etc. is an excellent way to market yourself. Being physically in front of a targeted audience that appreciates art and what I do is a great way to gain exposure as well.

I also do a lot of social media which keeps me in touch with my fans, and I love connecting with them, so we have a very personal relationship. I read and reply to comments and messages, and never take them for granted. Every single person has the ability to change the world so I will do my best to connect with people positively.

 

I see that you self-published your own series, Tanpopo. Can you tell us more about what it was like and how you did that? 

I self-published Tanpopo many years ago until Boom! Studios picked it up and published it as a graphic novel series. It was an interesting process and I learnt a lot about working with print companies. I recently released my newest collection of art, “The Beehive: A Collection of Fuzzbutts Vol. 1.” which is the first book I’ve published since Tanpopo. 

Book printing requires a lot of technical aspects, knowledge of paper, various printing techniques and marketing is also a considerable part of the publication process. I would say that self-publishing is one of the hardest projects that I’ve done.

 

What advice can you give to anyone else who is thinking of starting a business as an artist? 

Work hard, sacrifice, celebrate the successes, and learn from your mistakes. If you’re thinking of starting a business as an artist, you need to realise that being your boss and other people’s boss is extremely hard. You are in control of your destiny, so do not wait for others to find you or for success to fall out of the sky. 

I gave up a lot to build what I have, every day I give it my all and I still sacrifice. To be honest, it would be so much easier if I had a day job as I wouldn’t have the responsibility of an entire business resting on my shoulders. However, I wouldn’t be as fulfilled as I am now. I love my business and career, and for me, the hard work pays off. If you want to follow your passion, then be prepared to work your butt off for it.

 

Follow Camillia’s work

Facebook @camilladerricoart
Twitter @Helmetgirl
Instagram @camilladerrico

Camilla D’Errico is an urban contemporary painter, illustrator, character creator and comic artist residing in Vancouver BC, Canada. With roots in comics, Camilla’s beautiful work is seen on toys, clothes, accessories and more. Camilla is published by Random House/Watson Guptill books, Boom! Studios, Image Comics, IDW, Dark Horse Comics and more, with self-publishing roots for her literature-inspired series, Tanpopo. Camilla has distinguished herself as one of the breakthrough artists in Pop Surrealism.


Have you ever felt discontent in your job and considered branching out on your own? I think that thought has crossed a lot of our minds but with it comes fear about leaving a place of safety and security for something unknown.

Laura Gmeinder found herself in that place. She was a successful Human Resources director for a popular American brand for over fourteen years. Truthfully, she enjoyed her job, but the thought of quitting and going into business for herself as a consultant would not leave her. After coaching on the side for a few years she decided to take the leap and go full time.

In our interview, I asked Laura about leaving the safety of her corporate job and how she was able to venture into the unknown by starting her own business. She gives powerful insight on how to overcome self doubt, take a leap of faith, and even gain your first client.

Hi Laura! Would you tell our readers a little about you and your consulting business?

Professionally you can find me at the intersection of leadership development and business strategy. I lean on my degree in adult education from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, coach training from CTI, HR background and business savvy to provide leadership coaching and training, business consulting and motivational speaking. I’m always looking to one up my skill set. Currently, I am enrolled in a high level laser coach training program with Master Coach Marion Franklin.

I’m also a writer and filmmaker. My passion is female empowerment; I support emerging leaders and female entrepreneurs.  In addition, I am the Vice President of Disrupt Madison and Disrupt Milwaukee. Disrupt’s signature event focuses on empowering thought leaders to change the world of work. I’m also in leadership for the Doyenne Group, a women’s entrepreneurial movement that started in Madison, Wisconsin.

I’m high energy and love variety. I’m a Libra so I am always searching for balance which can leave me feeling conflicted or just going with the flow so I have to reflect on my decision. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling (I love the ocean), hiking with my poodle, baking, attending community events, trying new restaurants and volunteering.

I like vodka (which I refer to as Russian water). Quirky is interesting. I’m very spiritual and regularly focus on what I am grateful for to keep my perspective positive. I’m future focused. “Starting” excites me but I lose enthusiasm with routine. After years of trying to figure *it* out, I’m finally living the interesting life I always craved, in the spirit of “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  I’ve given up my search for Prince Charming and look forward to meeting Mr .Right-for-me when the time comes. I wake up every day and for a second I’m pleasantly surprised to find this is the life I am leading. And that, more than anything, makes me feel like a success.

Your website states that you loved your job in human resources, but chose to pursue your own business as a consultant. What led you down that path?

At my company, growth opportunities were only available in Michigan at our parent company and I had no interest in moving to Detroit.  That’s over simplifying it, but to make the impact I wanted to make in the corporate world I would have needed to relocate to our parent company. My situation is very typical. Women are leaving the corporate world in their mid 30s due to lack of advancement opportunities or because they are not offered enough flexibility to raise their family.

I looked for years at job postings while building my skill sets on the side (I started coaching about 7 1/2 years ago). After finishing my year as president of a women’s non profit I was challenged with the question, “What are you going to do next? That question combined with the fact that in my corporate role big changes were coming, a new President who had never held the role, I decided it was the perfect time to take my side gig to the main event. I gave notice to my employer and within a week had my first consulting client. And I never looked back.

How did you get your first consulting client? Do you have any advice on getting your “first” client?

A friend mentioned during a happy hour conversation that she had a meeting with someone who had a similar business to the one I was creating and then never heard back from her.  I slept on that nugget and by the morning I realized if I can’t offer my services to my friend how am I ever going to be successful? If you can’t sell you don’t have a business.

I put together an email sharing how I could support her and courageously asked for a meeting to discuss it. She said yes. The one rule we had for working together was that our friendship would always come first. Since then, we have worked on several successful projects over the years.  

My advice on how to get your first client is to believe in yourself and clearly communicate what value you provide. When you get started it’s so much about your passion and asking people to support you.  I scored my first coaching client by sending an email to 100 friends/family/acquaintances sharing about my passion for coaching and who I wanted to help. A friend of my cousin’s immediately thought of his sister who was stuck personally and professionally and connected us.

What have you enjoyed about running your own business?

Everything! (Truth: I loathe the accounting piece). I’ve discovered that my sense of adventure, love of variety, and ability to handle risk make me well suited for the entrepreneur life. My blind spot is, I am so future focused I always think tomorrow, next month, or next year will be better (which typically is) but it leaves me vulnerable and often not pivoting fast enough.  

What I love most is seeing my clients lives change. For example, I had lunch with one of my first clients the other day (who is now a dear friend).  The lady in front of me was almost unrecognizable from the lady I met almost six years ago. She is confident, down 50+ pounds, and she speaks up for herself which has improved her relationships with her family and friends. She went back to school, wrote a thesis, got her masters degree, and started a business. I’m blown away by her courage, determination, and ambition.  

It’s inspiring and it energizes me to know that in a small way I was able to support her during a period of significant growth. It’s beautiful to see what happens when someone believes in themselves and takes action to go from dreaming to doing.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

The hardest thing was the inconsistent income. My self worth felt tied to my income and moving past that mental block is hard. For example, I had one month where I made nothing, NOTHING. It was so frustrating. I was working so hard. When business wasn’t working out the way I thought it would I was so stressed and down on myself.

Because money was a hot topic in my relationship I hid it from my (now ex) boyfriend which made it worse. However I am very future-focused, so I always was optimistic that I was planting seeds even if nothing was growing.  Often after a month like that, I would have one of my biggest months. It was just how the money came in. I had to learn to chase opportunity without attachment and separate effort from results. As an entrepreneur, there are so many things out of my control. While I set monthly goals, I really focus on my annual goal and strategies along the way that will help me reach it. That big picture focus has empowered me to double year over year in 2017 and set a goal to do that again in 2018.

What is the best leadership advice that you have ever been given?

Make sure you are running towards something, not away from something (my last and favorite boss challenged me to reflect on that). I appreciate that she gave me that advice as I was transitioning from the corporate environment into my business full time. It challenged me to pause and think about it. Truthfully I was doing a little of both and am grateful I found everything I needed and more in my entrepreneurial journey.

How can we best empower this next generation of women?

By setting an example, you never know who is watching. Encouraging women to discover their potential and then  lean into it. When you take action and build on small wins you quickly gain confidence which empowers you to take bigger risks.  

This is my calling and why I am proud to share that I am co-producing a short documentary, “If You Don’t, Who Will? Empowered Women Empowering Women” on this subject with Coreyne Woodman-Holoubek.  It’s such an important focus! It’s hard to lead and it’s something we need to focus on every day.  I always ask myself, “how do I want to show up?”. And it’s one of the reasons I was named one of 2018’s Woman to Watch by BRAVA Magazine.

If a reader feels stuck in her current employment, what advice would you give her?

Get to know yourself. What do you like? What do you dislike? Try something new. Also, reflecting on what is holding you back will give you some insights as to why you feel stuck.  My challenge was that I hadn’t processed my emotions, which kept me stuck because it was safe.  If you can figure out what you are good at and what you like to do, and find a job or start a business at the intersection you will be fulfilled.


Many people see the idea of starting up a business as daunting and requiring a lot of time, money and preparation. It doesn’t have to be that way. Business can be fun and easy. There will be days where things are hard or slow but the overall experience could be much easier than you ever imagined. Asking yourself questions to gain clarity around your business will make creating your business much easier.  Here are a few questions you can ask to make starting up your business enjoyable.

Where should I start?

In order to establish what you think might be a great business, ask yourself: what are my particular skills and interests? You might be into health and fitness, enjoy baking, have a great knowledge of your local area, be a brilliant entertainer, have great website or computer skills. These are all clues to what type of  business could be fun for you. Anything that you do to create an extra income stream is a business – so start with something you know and love, and develop it from there.

There are local outlets for products that you make, farmers’ markets for food items, online sales outlets and the internet to advertise on, so you don’t require premises, just a corner of your house, garage, kitchen or property to start creating. Ask yourself: What would be fun for you to create? When you are having fun, you do things so much faster and efficiently. It doesn’t feel like you are even working.

Should I play it safe or dive in?

You may have been told that it is unprofessional and self-sabotaging to figure things out as you go, but some of our greatest creative capacities came from on-the-job learning.  When you are “thrown in the deep end” you tend to just swim.  You may not have all the answers when starting your business and you don’t have to. There are many places to seek information and many experts are happy to give you free advice if you are willing to reach out to them.

Try taking someone out for coffee or dinner and see how willing they are to talk to you about anything you wish to know. Industry groups are worth approaching too, as they will have up-to-date information on the legal side of the field you are in. Between diving in and going slow, I have tried both approaches, and both work. Ask which one is required for the business you are starting.

Where can I put my attention today to create the most?

We have always been taught that to get the most amount done we need to wake up at a certain time, check our e-mails for 15 minutes, do the same yoga class every Monday, work on a certain project every work day and so on and so forth. Routine may help you to be more productive in your work day but I have always found that asking where my attention needs to be will trump any routine.

You may think that maintaining routine, and the items on your to-do list are the most important. However, when I ask this question and decide not to go to yoga, but go to the gym instead, this has led to meeting someone who becomes a client. It creates more for my business! Sometimes instead of working I will have coffee with a friend, who I find out knows all about what I have been researching, and can give me the information I need much faster. When you ask questions, possibilities show up a million times faster and in many different ways than you ever could imagine!

What am I creating?

When you start your business you also need to figure out what your end plan is as this will influence how you develop your business. If you are creating an enterprise which you wish to give you passive income, then you will need to put systems in place so that eventually someone else can run it. Setting these up in the beginning will allow you the freedom to take time off even when you are in the building stage.  If you want to sell your business, once you have it up and running your aim should be to make the financials look really good for a prospective purchaser. Talk to your financial adviser about how to create great financials that will appeal to purchasers.  A successful business is one that is profitable, and can eventually run without you.

 

Creating a new business is not scary if you choose something you love doing and are interested in. Ask questions, as they are the key to creating a new business with ease. Seek help and support from people in the industry you are in, as experts enjoy sharing their knowledge. Begin with the end in mind:Am I creating a business for sale or one to retire from? Make sure you enjoy what you are doing, and “work” will feel a lot less than work!


Margie Hulse is a business coach, speaker, consultant, property investor and Right Riches for You facilitator for Access Consciousness. She has over 20 years of experience in the creation, investment, promotion and marketing of multiple successful businesses. Having gained financial security for herself, she loves to show others just how easy it can be to do the same.

 


Every entrepreneur or start-up business owner knows there are some common questions and fears that appear in the start-up world.  Having the ability to recognise them will help you identify strategies to overcome your start-up fears and lead to success. General manager Raeleen Hooper shares her thoughts and ideas on how to overcome the daunting experience of getting starting and pushing up to the top.

Believe in your ideas

It’s easy to focus on the negatives rather than thinking about the positives. Instead of believing in ourselves and rolling with an idea, we spend far too much time dissecting plans to make them perfect.  Remember, you don’t always need a polished business plan. As long as the concept is strong enough, believe in yourself and ideas will flow freely.

Instead of believing in ourselves and rolling with an idea, we spend far too much time dissecting plans to make them perfect.

It is important than when you face roadblocks, keep positive and seek advice and help from others. We are now in a connected world, where research is a lot easier and it’s possible to gain inspiration from people within the industry. Sign up for webinars, podcasts as well as join relevant groups on social platforms like LinkedIn.

Don’t focus on (potential) failure, focus on achievements

The fear of failure is very common and you are definitely not on your own here. Challenges will arise at times but an enthusiastic, well spirited entrepreneur will understand what the worst-case scenario looks likes and prepare for it. Plus, starting a business brings a lot of fun and exhilarating times that will overshadow the difficult times.

When doubt creeps in, use a simple technique: grab a coffee and take a break to reflect on the achievements to date. So often you get caught in the day-to-day rush of getting things done, that you forget to celebrate all the milestones you have already achieved.

Patience will pay off

Being patient may seem like a simple skill but it doesn’t come easy to everyone. Staying calm when under pressure or in worse case, a crisis, will help you keep your feet firmly on the ground and stay professional. Some things move more quickly than others in the start-up world and there can be a lot of hurdles to overcome in the early days.

Part of patience is also perseverance, which my parents had in spades when they opened their own bed and breakfast in a county town. By believing in their idea and finding their niche, they kept on delivering what their clients wanted for ten years to create a very successful business they were proud of.

Take a deep breath and step back

Most entrepreneurs start off with a great idea that lights the touchpaper and gets things rolling. After a while it is possible that you may hit a wall which can become quite daunting. Take a deep breath, step back from the project and re-visit with a fresh mind. Being realistic and putting the leg work in during the first steps means success is achievable at a mid-way stage.

Take a deep breath, step back from the project and re-visit with a fresh mind.

This is also a good time to get some fresh ideas and thoughts. A good technique is to talk with your ‘Circle of Influence’ – these are your most trusted friends and family. They will give you some honest feedback as well as know your vision so they will help you see through the fog for some clear thoughts. They may also be able to babysit your business for a short period of time which can give you an opportunity to visit similar businesses to freshen up your ideas.

On a couple of occasions I have seen a business owner go away for a quick break. Lo and behold, they stumble across a couple of new concepts that energise them and provide fresh ideas to help break through to the next success phase of their business.

Learn everyday

It’s a cliché but the best leaders learn every day and never stop learning. It is worth attending industry specific classes, webinars and conferences to gain knowledge from others. The best ideas can be attained from people with more experience and a wise work ethic.

I worked with a very successful entrepreneur who planned 30 minutes of daily education. The founder of this business would always be looking for ways to improve his business model, whether it was through streamlining the business processes or developing the marketing. He was not afraid to try new initiatives and was flexible to make change for the growth of the business. The business has had rapid growth and expansion but the daily learnings continue.

Make decisions and stick to them

In the early days, we find ourselves backtracking if an idea has received negative sentiment. Being able to make decisions quickly and effectively without persuasion is a skill that is much needed in business.

Being able to make decisions quickly and effectively without persuasion is a skill that is much needed in business.

There are some easy to use on-line survey tools that can help you test and gain feedback. Work with your customers as well as non-customers and ask them to provide information that will help you understand their needs. It only needs to be a quick poll that could provide you with some opinions that will help with your overall decisions.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

When something doesn’t quite go as expected, we often bury our heads in the sand. But remember, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, in fact, it is quite normal.

Having spent many years in franchising I have worked with hundreds of independent business owners. One of the most common themes across successful business owners is they have consistent contact with other franchise owners as well the franchisor. They ask plenty of questions, looking for ways to improve their business. Those who try and ‘go it alone’ can often take longer to find their feet.

Those who try and ‘go it alone’ can often take longer to find their feet.

As Voltaire once said “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire

Stick with it

There comes a point in the early days of business where everything becomes a little overwhelming and potential stakeholders can sway your decisions. Setting achievable goals in bite size chunks and making sure the basic plan is revisited will keep everything running along smoothly.

Once again this is where your patience and perseverance comes into play. As each goal is reached, reflect back and identify how you were able to reach the goal and repeat, repeat and repeat again.

There are so many stories of very successful businesses that started out with a great idea where early on the difference between success and failure was the determination to stick with it, being patient and persevering. Just keep your eye on the prize.

Marketing is easier than ever before

Gone are the days where you have to spend more money than you make on marketing. Now, all you need is a creative idea, a business card, a good website and a variety of accessible social media channels. Getting the word out there isn’t simple but there are more cost effective options available. Networking will be critical in the early stages, so get your business card into as many hands as possible.

It is easy to think that you need to implement as much marketing as possible across as many marketing channels as you can. Be wise with your time and effort. Make sure you choose a couple of channels that are the best for your business. Stay focused on these channels, work at them to the best of your ability and if it isn’t your forte, get professional advice.

Be wise with your time and effort. Make sure you choose a couple of channels that are the best for your business.

There are so many marketing options today, you won’t have time to do it all, however making sure you can be found online will be a major factor to the growth of your business.

What start-up fears did you have and how did you manage to overcome them? Share your story in our comments below!

Raeleen Hooper  is the general manager of the leading Australian print, design and website company Snap. With broad experience in all aspects of sales and marketing Raeleen knows what it takes to get a business off the ground and achieve results.

Photo credit: Bernard Goldbach


If you’ve ever dreamed of changing careers, you’re certainly not alone. (I myself have made the switch a time or four.) Maybe you are wondering what your next career step should be, or thinking about branching into a new field, and it can be daunting. With the average person moving between 5-7 careers during a lifetime, we talk to three inspiring women for whom professional reinvention involves image, passion and determination.

After 30 years of working in the corporate sector, Soraya Raju decided she needed a career that expressed her personality. So she started Strategic Style. Soraya says,“ I decided I wanted to help men and women to navigate through the maze of complexities with my own experience.” She found her passion and because she is self-employed seeks business networks such as Leaders In Heels, and associations, such as AICI, that guide and inspire her in her business endeavours.

For Susanne Taylor, her career change was extreme. She owned a Commercial Fit Out/Project Management firm when she decided her passion was image. Her determination gave her the courage to start her business in early 2014, called Biddy & Jean. Susanne says her challenges are “juggling all roles in the business myself.  Sales, marketing, book keeping, administration, social media etc.  Often I will think of a great new idea and want to implement it straight away, however this can lead to feeling overwhelmed, as it becomes another thing on my list to implement.  I am very hard on myself and sometimes expect miracles!” She is not alone.

There are also many women who choose not to do a total career change, but do a side shift instead. Claire Bigelow from Rockwell Creative is one of those women. Claire has been in the education and image industry for more than 20 years. Her passion is to “determine the right combination of aesthetic solutions to complement [women’s] appearance and express their individuality.” Yet, she has the challenge of having a fulltime job and establishing her business. Claire recognises that “juggling work, children and starting a business has its challenges–but even more so, deciding which exciting project to dive into first”.

All three entrepreneurs have combined image, passion and determination to suit their lifestyle and needs. All three women are passionate about making their mark in business. Like most women they face challenges and obstacles that at times it can be disheartening. When asked for tips to help other women make their mark in the business world they stated:

Soraya’s tips:There is no such thing as perfection – just aim to do your best. 

  1. Dress the part – Businesswomen need to portray the right image to create that first impression. Always check the dress code of the company you work for or your customers you are serving and dress accordingly.
  2. Phony syndrome – Women tend to doubt their skills and live in fear in case they are found out they are not good enough. Be confident because you wouldn’t be there in the first place if you were not good at what you do and offer.
  3. Delegation – Women are naturally nurturing, however they tend to be perfectionists and hesitate to delegate. Avoid being a control freak. There is no such thing as perfection – just aim to do your best.

Susanne’s tips:Look for opportunities to learn a new skill and share knowledge.

  1. Communication – is paramount. Always show courtesy and be open in your dialogue with others.  Speak clearly and concisely.  Be polite in written and verbal communication.  Get to know your peers, take an interest in them. What are they really like?  You may share similar interests, which can help build rapport.
  2. Leadership Lead by example, demonstrate respect for your colleagues, clients and yourself. Listen to others requirements and offer solutions.  Be willing to go the extra mile, encourage, support and help peers.  Set goals and treat yourself and/or team when achieved.  Look for opportunities to learn a new skill and share knowledge.  Take calculated risks and challenge yourself and your colleagues.  “ Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”.
  3. Body Language – Maintain eye contact when engaging in conversation. Keep an open stance and pleasant manner.  Listen carefully and acknowledge others comments.  Be authentic and true to yourself.

Claire’s tips:The visual clues upon first meeting determine whether someone is likely to engage with you

  1. Be congruent and consistent – in your image, language, message and manner. People will feel comfortable that you are exactly what they see. This builds trust, rapport, respect, and encourages supportive relationships – essential for good, sustainable business.
  2. Use colour to your advantage – colour psychology is so powerful. Subtle cues with colour can not only enhance and flatter your appearance, but also influence the reception you get from people you do business with. Think strategically about what you want to achieve as a result of the interaction, and use colour to support your message.
  3. Be remarkable and memorable – include elements into your style to help you stand out from the crowd and add interest to your look. People listen to others they find interesting. The visual clues upon first meeting determine whether someone is likely to engage with you – to hear your message. Supporting your business and brand by using with visual cues that link back to your brand such as brand colours, can also help you to stand out and your interaction memorable. Using interesting elements in your outfit such as statement jewellery, scarves or other accessories might also become a talking point for networking events.

What is evident in the business world is that your image is your brand and the brand of the business you own or represent. It is important that you are in sync so that you are projected as credible, likeable and authentic.

You may have reached a point in your working life when you need a new challenge, or you may be thinking about a completely new career direction. It can be unnerving and frightening but at the same time exciting. Whichever direction you take, you need passion and determination to succeed.

 

Cosimina Cosimina_portrait_bw5Nesci is a professional & personal brand specialist who is passionate about helping others realise their potential as a professional. She is on the board of the Association of image Consultants International (Sydney Chapter) in the marketing role, and her goal is to market the women who work as image consultants across Sydney.  She has a broad expertise in design fundamentals – an expertise that now enriches her work as an image consultant and brand expert.

Find out more about her services here.

Featured image: Paxson Woelber


I started my business, The Australasian College Broadway with just $1,600. Today it has been independently valued at more than $70 million.

I’m not blowing my own trumpet, but rather trying to convince business owners that you don’t need a huge stack of funding behind you to start a business. You need to be creative, strategic, driven and determined. You also need to spend the money you do have wisely.

The following are three key tips that helped me build my business from the beginning with very little money:

1. Keep overheads down

If you can, run the business from home initially. Don’t start out by selecting a stylish office in a sought after business area with a hefty monthly rent. In the early stages, you merely need a desk, laptop and phone. There are excellent serviced offices available for meetings if required that charge an hourly rate. This is a great option in terms of portraying a professional image without getting yourself into unnecessary debt.

2. Milk those contacts

It seems like a cliché but trust me, the people you know now, can actually help build your business. Don’t be afraid to reach out to all of your contacts through family, friends, former colleagues etc. Let them know what the business is about and the services you are providing and ask if they can help you in terms of introductions. Leveraging your contacts to generate leads and new business opportunities is an excellent way to kick start a new venture

You could also consider social media as a tool to assist with this. If you’re trying to keep costs down, then create a Facebook page for your business in the interim before building a website. Share the page with your contacts and spread the word virally across social networks. LinkedIn is another great outlet that you can use for free to spread the word about your business and connect with contacts.

These tactics won’t cost a thing but will deliver results.

Another useful way to leverage contacts is to have a coffee with another business owner who can offer you advice and recommendations based on their experience of starting a business. Reach out to contacts that have been finalists or winners of business awards such as Telstra Business Women and ask them how they have achieved success. It could be the best $4 you’ll ever invest.

3. Invest wisely in infrastructure

Speaking of investments, use your funds wisely on infrastructure so you can hit the ground running from day one. Think about the essentials and purchase only these in the beginning to ensure you can do the work you need to without the extravagant niceties. These can come later, once the business starts to prosper.

Purchase the right equipment, such as a reliable and reputable laptop and printer, and ensure your mobile phone is smart enough to handle your daily business requirements. Beyond that, you shouldn’t need to spend much more to get set up.

Making money clearly requires spending money. Mistakes will happen along the way and investments will fail. We operate in a risky environment so my advice is to spend as little as possible in the beginning to safeguard yourself. Ultimately it comes down to a lot of hard work, long hours and dedication. Think creatively about how you can keep costs down while also developing the business and work towards quarterly targets.

Starting your own business and building it into a successful entity with dedicated staff and a strong brand, is one of the most rewarding things any entrepreneur could wish for.

Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM

Maureen is the Founder and Chairman of The Australasian College Broadway. In 2011, Maureen was recognised for her leadership in business receiving the 2011 NSW Telstra Business Women’s Award – Business Owners Category. The College is considered to be the benchmark college in Australia for hair, beauty and make-up and is a highly awarded and recognised centre for learning and educational excellence. Visit www.tac.edu.au for more information.