For the last 17 years that she has worked in West Cork Jackie Gowran has witnessed a quiet revolution taking place. Female entrepreneurs are sowing the seeds of their business dreams and nurturing them to fruition. Here she explores some of the art of cultivating a sustainable business that is aligned with you.
The seed: Germination of your business idea
Every business starts as a simple concept — an idea that germinates in the fertile soil of your imagination. It might come to you in a moment of inspiration or evolve slowly over time as you identify a need or follow your passion. Just like any seed, it requires the right conditions, care, and nourishment to grow into a sustainable business. Entrepreneurs are discovering that the journey includes cultivating not only their business but also themselves.
Strengthening the soil:
First, I suggest you explore your identity as an entrepreneur. What makes you tick? What drives you? Understanding yourself and identifying your strengths and stretches are fundamental to nurturing your business idea. Just as a plant requires a strong root system, your business needs a solid foundation rooted in your values, beliefs, identity and commercial potential and viability.
Why are you the right person for this business? Why do you do what you do? Your why is about the impact you want to have and the ripple effect of that impact.
When we look at this first it can appear quite surface level. When you peel it back it has much more depth. It is about looking under the layers. Your why isn’t just about money, it’s deeper. What is it that motivates you? What fuels and inspires you.
Planting the seed:
Turning ideas into action
Once you have your business idea, it’s time to plant the seed. This involves taking concrete steps to turn your concept into reality. Research is your first tool in this process. Understand your market, your potential competitors, and the needs of your target audience. At this stage I’d recommend signing up for a Start Your Own Business programme with the Local Enterprise Office or booking one of their advice clinic sessions.
• Creating a business plan is like crafting a blueprint for your seed’s growth. It outlines your goals, strategies, financial viability and market. A well-structured business plan serves as your roadmap, in truth many entrepreneurs unless seeking investment shy away from committing to this process. At the very least, I highly recommend you commit to fleshing out your management (you), market and money plans on paper, it does not have to be formal at this stage.
• Vision development is the cornerstone of strategic planning. Where do you see your business in the future? What is the change you want to bring about in your industry or community? Crafting an outline of your vision is like charting a course for your entrepreneurial journey and gives you direction.
• Business values are the compass that guides your decisions and actions. They form the core of your brand’s identity and are an essential part of your business DNA.
• Consider your brand as a living entity, with a personality, voice, and values. When these elements align, the impact is profound. Developing your voice pillars allows you to communicate effectively with your target audience, creating resonance and connection.
• Financial planning is also critical. Ensure your business has a solid financial foundation with a budget, cash flow management, and a strategy for raising capital if needed. It helps you identify and explore the commercial reality of your business idea.
Nourishing the seed: Passion and
Much like a plant needs water, sunlight, and nutrients to grow, your business idea requires nourishment in the form of passion and perseverance. This is where many female entrepreneurs shine. Your passion for your idea will sustain you through the inevitable challenges and setbacks.
Just as a plant adapts to changing conditions, your business idea must evolve to meet the demands of a dynamic market. Sole entrepreneurs are usually more agile and able to adapt and innovate which is crucial for long-term success. Pay attention to customer feedback and market trends, and be willing to make adjustments to your products or services accordingly.
Entrepreneurship is a journey that tests your resolve. Your doubts, and limiting beliefs can be formidable obstacles. Embracing them, instead of shying away, is key to creating lasting change. Leadership isn’t just about managing a team; it’s about leading yourself effectively. You wouldn’t treat a dear friend with anything less than respect, strong boundaries, encouragement, compassion, and love, would you? Apply the same principles to yourself as your own boss. Learning how to become your own best boss is part of business growth..
The journey ahead: Embrace the seasons
Just like the changing seasons, your entrepreneurial journey will have its ebbs and flows. There may be times of rapid growth and seasons of introspection. Embrace them all. Entrepreneurship is not merely a means to an end but a journey of self-discovery, growth, and making a positive impact on the world.
Surrounding yourself with a supportive network is also essential. Seek out mentors, advisors, and fellow entrepreneurs who can provide guidance, share their experiences, and offer emotional support. The Local Enterprise Office is a wonderful resource for this support, through providing mentors, training courses and inspiring networking events such as NWED.
Nurturing your business idea is not a solitary endeavour. West Cork is blessed with a supportive business community and local resources. Networking events, like those organised by Network Ireland West Cork also provide platforms to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs. The road to success can be lonely at times, but a strong support system can provide the encouragement you need to keep nurturing your business.
Remember, your journey as a woman in enterprise not only enriches your life but also inspires others to plant their own seeds of success. Cultivate your idea, watch it grow, and let it be a beacon of hope and innovation in your community and beyond.
Jackie Gowran is a business coach who specialises in blending traditional business training with a holistic person centred approach. With over 35 years of business experience she helps you weave the heart and soul into your business.