Sell your skills. We have so much more knowledge and experience than we give ourselves credit for – all of which is unique to us. So find a niche you can own and monetize your skills.
Hannah Martin is the founder of Talented Ladies Club and a small business and careers expert. She regularly appears in the national media and on TV and radio.
A passionate advocate of women in business, Hannah is a member of two All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) in the UK, and is a mentor for Natwest Bank’s Entrepreneurial Spark programme.
Hannah is also an award-winning copywriter and digital strategy consultant, with over 21 years’ experience in the advertising industry, and a qualified psychotherapist, hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner.
Where did the idea for Talented Ladies Club come from?
When I fell pregnant with my daughter I decided to give up commuting and freelance from home. I was lucky; I was able to build a successful freelance business working the hours I chose from home. But my friends weren’t so lucky.
I met so many ambitious mothers who were struggling to do what they were good at and loved, and get paid for it, once they had children. So I started Talented Ladies Club with my friend Kary to inspire women to expect more, and share advice to help them get it.
Since then over 3million women around the world have read our website and used our resources.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m an early riser so I can usually squeeze in a couple of hours of work before the school run. I drop my daughter at school at 8:30am and walk to my office. I’m lucky – walking from my home to school and onto my office takes around 10 minutes. I leave work at 3:30pm to pick my daughter up from school, so I really make the most of those working hours.
I usually eat a big breakfast, which means I can power through without stopping for lunch, and then cook an early dinner when I get home.
I make my day productive by working smartly. To organise my time efficiently I make a list of what I need to achieve that day, prioritised by urgency and importance.
I also make sure I switch off properly in the evenings so I can re-charge and get a real break from work.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By turning them into goals and chunking them into tasks. I’ve met so many people who talk a good game, and some with fantastic ideas, but who never actually make anything of them. And me too – I’ve had many ideas that I have never actually done anything with myself.
But as soon as you decide on a SMART goal and chunk that goal into achievable tasks starting right now, you have an idea that you can (and will) realise.
What’s one trend that excites you?
In this case, it’s more a trend of seeing through trends!
I’m excited to see an increased awareness of schemes like MLMs and the six figure coaching industry. Over the past few years there’s been a proliferation of people and companies using envy marketing (known as attraction marketing) to lure people into their schemes and programmes – and failing to live up to the promises they sell.
But gradually people are becoming aware of the fantasy they sell. I’m seeing more articles in the mainstream media exposing MLMs, and more people seeing through the make-a-million-in-a-month-just-like-me rhetoric.
It’s time for more honest, realistic, gritty messages about running a business – shared by people who actually have a financially successful business (profit, not turnover) built for longevity.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
List making! That and working in Focus Blocks. If ever I find myself uninspired or procrastinating I’ll use a 90 minute Focus Block to motivate myself and start working.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry. When I was a teenager and in my early 20s I felt lost; like I hadn’t found my ‘path’. I realise now that there’s no path laid out in front of us to follow. There’s only the path behind us.
I was lucky in that I had a clear idea I wanted a creative career, and a determination not to settle for anything less. That drive helped me talk my way into a job at a top advertising agency with zero experience. It’s also helped me navigate the ups and downs of growing a career as a mother, and later going freelance and starting my own business.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
When we first started writing features on MLM we got a LOT of slack from their fans and members. But over time, more and more people are aware of these companies and the lack of genuine opportunity they offer (according to research published by the FTC, an average of 99.6% of participants will lose money when business expenses are taken into account).
It felt risky coming out so strongly with an opinion, but I felt it was important to tell the truth to try to protect people.
I feel the same today about the six figure coaching industry. I published an article about it a few years ago, and since then have heard from so many women who have lost thousands of dollars to well known gurus. (The worst case was one woman who ran up over $45,000 of credit card debt.)
These gurus are powerful people with persuasive messaging, and they sell an intoxicatingly desirable dream – that you too can live a millionaire’s lifestyle (with money earned while you sleep) if you just buy their programmes. Sadly, the reality for most people who invest is that they just lose a lot of money and hope.
But these gurus are well-connected, and part of powerful cliques, and they use their influence to bully and silence their victims and anyone who dares to try to speak out against them. They also tell a LOT of lies. They’re not unlike the cult-like MLM upline leaders. (Indeed, many of them use very similar sales and recruitment techniques.)
Speaking out against this industry definitely does not make you popular! But like MLMs I think it’s important to protect people by telling the truth.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be consistent! All too often we look for ‘big’ answers that will magically transform our success. But the real secret to growing a profitable business is consistently doing the same things over and over again.
I recently worked with a small business owner who was frustrated at her lack of progress. But when I asked her what actions she was taking, I could see that she was trying a technique or strategy for a couple of weeks or a month, and then abandoning it.
So I helped her design a simple daily routine that worked towards the goal she wanted, and encouraged her to stick at it for a few months. Within just two months she’d doubled her traffic – something she’d failed to do in nearly three years previously.
This is often the secret to success – finding the right things to do and keeping going, long after everyone has got bored and given up.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being obsessed with our numbers. I have a profit and loss spreadsheet open on my laptop and I update it daily. I know exactly how much my business costs to run, how much profit (that’s PROFIT, not turnover) we have made so far each month, and what are my most profitable products.
This enables me to make calculated decisions that ensure I actually make money, and set realistic financial goals to keep my business on track.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There are so many to choose from, but probably the biggest is not knowing my numbers, or at least not focusing on the right ones.
I used to be obsessed with our website traffic and social media numbers. And while that certainly helped the business to grow spectacularly, it wasn’t making much money. As soon as I switched my focus to income, the money started flowing into the business. As a result, our Q1 profit this year was 26 times higher than the same period two years earlier.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Sell your skills. We have so much more knowledge and experience than we give ourselves credit for – all of which is unique to us. So find a niche you can own and monetize your skills. That can be teaching, creating your own courses, writing a book, becoming a speaker, or selling your expertise as a freelancer or consultant.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A flight to the South of France to visit my friend Kary. We started Talented Ladies Club together, but she’s since left the business and moved to an idyllic French farmhouse hidden away on a mountain.
Every year, my daughter and I fly over to spend a week with Kary and her daughter. We swim in lakes, collect eggs from her hens, cook with home-grown produce and drink wine watching the sun set over the valley. Life is slow, sun-drenched and wonderful.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I love Google Drive. I use it for everything from storing and sharing images with my team, to preparing presentations and classes on Google Slides and using Google Sheets to plan our publication calendar and stay on track of our finances with a profit and loss sheet.
Google Drive is easy to use and, just as importantly, everything is easy to find as it’s in one place!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
It’s a popular choice, but The Big Leap really changed my life. It helps you identify any upper limits that may be holding you back from the personal or professional states you aspire to. Not only have I used this to eliminate my own upper limits, but I use the learnings to help other people identify theirs.
What is your favorite quote?
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been” by George Eliot.
- If you want to be productive, make a list every morning. Prioritise your most important tasks and get those completed first. Use Focus Blocks to help you beat procrastination.
- Start a profit and loss spreadsheet and update it daily. Know exactly how much your business costs to run and where your income is coming from.
- If you want to get an idea off the ground, turn it into a SMART goal and then chunk that goal into a list of tasks you can start work on right now.
- If you want to start work every day feeling creative and energised, make sure you take a proper break. Have a defined ‘office closed’ time and turn off notifications on your phone.
- Be consistent. Set up systems for your business and follow them every single day. The compound results of this effort will reward you far more than switching between shiny new ideas.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.