Occasionally, despite being a Northerner, I think things happen in life at just the right moment. I feel like the Martinhal Family Brands Event, might be one of those things.
Martinhal is a small chain of luxury family resorts in Portugal, and company founder Chitra Stern brought together the founders behind creative, family-friendly businesses from all over the world for this one-day conference, attended by bloggers, journalists and entrepreneurs.
The sessions were really inspiring, and seemed to speak to some of the challenges I’m facing myself as a business owner right now. Lately, I’ve realised some of the things I’ve been doing for a long time? Have stopped being fun. And I don’t want to do them any more. But obviously, being me, I have a lot of angst about this. Is it sensible? Does it make financial sense? What should I be doing instead?
But what this event reminds me is you can’t be a successful entrepreneur doing something you’re not passionate about. So stuff the figures (to a degree) and do what you love. Ignore everything else.
And there were other lessons, too. Like, learning from failure, changing direction, not being panicked by big economic and political changes, building the right team, the importance of having a purpose… I’m going to be thinking about these ideas for weeks to come, I’m sure.
Martinhal pulled together a fantastic panel of speakers, including Chitra herself, who was able to build a business nobody thought would work, even while raising four babies.
Then there was the founder of Ella’s Kitchen, and the founder of Marmiton, France’s biggest food website, which now runs successful print publications and events. Dutch writer Elspeth Teeling, who built a 300,000-strong Facebook community in just over 18 months.
I loved listening to US travel journalist Melissa Biggs Bradley, who turned her idea for a travel site into subscription-based club and luxury boutique travel agency creating custom travel itineraries for adventurous families.
My favourite speaker was probably Niamh Sherwin Barry, who co-founded The Irish Fairy Door Company with her best friend, and their husbands. Niamh was living a fab life in Ireland before the mortgage crisis there, with a big house and BMW.
The crisis cost Niamh everything – but she picked herself up, kept working hard and now has a company with a product that’s owned by one in every two children in Ireland. How flippin’ amazing is that?
There’s a lot to absorb and far too many tips to share here, but if the event is repeated – and I hope it will be – then I would urge any women in business to go along. It’s a fab opportunity to be inspired, and it doesn’t hurt to have a setting this pretty.
I will share, though, some of my favourite tips from the day. Also, a HUGE thanks to Martinhal for hosting me at this event, along with Flea.
We’re looking forward to exploring the wider area this weekend and I hope I’ll be hitting the office refreshed and inspired come Monday morning.
10 Lessons from Successful Entrepreneurs
- Listen first, and speak second. When you do tell your story, do it with simple, emotional stories – as a small business, it’s the best way to be noticed. (Paul Lindsey, Founder, Ella’s Kitchen)
- For entrepreneurs, your work really IS your life. If you’re not enjoying it, you damn well shouldn’t be doing it. Have a purpose you can be proud of, and want to share with people. (Paul Lindsey, Founder, Ella’s Kitchen)
- Humour is a fantastic way to build an audience but you must consistently laugh at yourself, not others. Don’t be afraid to share small moments you wouldn’t share at dinner parties. That’s what makes you relatable – the times you got your children’s names mixed up. (Elspeth Teeling, founder, The Relaxed Mama Club)
- You can have a plan, but often it’s the accidents along the way you need to be open to. (Melissa Biggs-Bradley, Indagare)
- When a brand comes to you, don’t think about what you can offer the brand, but think about what that brand brings to your readers. What does your site give readers, and how does the brand help you do that? (Christophe Duhamel, founder, Marmiton)
- Entrepreneurs should never be afraid to fail, because that’s when you learn the most. (Christophe Duhamel, Marmiton)
- It’s really not about the money. It’s doing something to make someone’s life a bit better. Making a little bit of magic. I can honestly say this because we were skint without a spare tenner between us – that magic is the best thing. (Niamh Sherwin Barry, The Irish Fairy Door Company)
- In social media, it’s easy to exist in a silo – here’s my book, here’s my breakfast. It’s a lot harder to listen. Too many people are just talking and that’s not a good brand. (Christophe Duhamel, Marmiton)
- As entrepreneurs you feel guilty – am I playing enough with my son? Am I home enough? But he loves you, you’re his only Mum and he doesn’t know about the other sorts of Mum. I tell my son if he’s not happy he can go to the Mum market and choose another one, but he says, “But you are the one I love, Mama”. (Mariana Duarte Silva – Village Underground)
- I tell my team, ‘we always say yes’. No matter what the customer asks, we always say yes, with a big smile. Then we go figure out how to make it happen. (Vanessa Carlini, Baby Deli)