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I wanted to share some of the personal challenges I faced when I started Liwu Jewellery and sometimes still do. I hope my tips on how to overcome them help all you budding entrepreneurs.


Aine and Lucie Kitchen Table


Initially, the lack of social interaction was one of the biggest challenges I faced, for those who know me, I adore chatting! I was always in trouble in school and in one job I had, I was given my own office to make sure I’d get stuff done, not because I was so important! Some of my greatest friends, I met in various jobs I’ve had. Sure even my husband, is a former work colleague of mine!

Related to this is having someone to bounce stuff off, and sound out decisions. Being your own boss often means listening to your inner critic 24/7! This may sound childish but it was hard for me not to be praised and appreciated every single day. I had to work at new ways to celebrate my successes and recognise my achievements. I think business people have a habit to keep going for the next big step for the business rather than stopping and celebrating on the successes and how far they have come!

To combat this potential loneliness, seek other local entrepreneurs or freelancers in your locality or online. There are lots of lovely networks such as with your LEO, Women’s Inspire Network, Network Ireland, Local Chamber of Commerce or apply for Acorns (www.acorns.ie) , an amazing programme.

Celebrate the successes within these networks and enjoy the journey.

Focus and discipline

‘Step away from the washing basket’. Working from home has its challenges and its perks! Perks – good coffee, short commute, seeing your kids more often. Downsides – very tempting to clean up or to stick on a wash. Honestly, what I learned is the washing machine became the new Facebook for me, i.e. the biggest distraction.

Ideally, eventually like me you’ll build an office in your yard external to your house, or rent an office. Many businesses initially thrive at the kitchen table. For me, I need a separate work space, so carve out an area in your home as a dedicated workspace. If you are located in an area where there are shared workspaces, go for it.

Build your day as if you had a boss and stick to the working hours you set yourself. Be mindful though as well, if you need to go the dentist, don’t feel bad. As was correctly pointed out to me, if you were working in an accountancy firm, you’d get time off to go! Lists, daily planners and weekly planners which I sit down and do on a Sunday night is key to me getting stuff done and still seeing my family during the week

And as all freelancers, remote workers and entrepreneurs know, friends and family often think that if you are self-employed or the boss, that it means you can drop everything for coffee with them. Stay strong, say no. They will end up with greater respect you and your business.

Having to do EVERYTHING yourself

Printer breaks down, you deal with it. Computer crashes, you deal with it, set up social media, PR, marketing, sales, accounts, ordering, order stationary, you deal with it………the list is endless.

If you have always worked for an established business this can be tough. Luckily, I now have people to share the workload but when the printer breaks down and Mr IT isn’t on the other end of the line, and you are having a bad day you can feel very overwhelmed and think ‘I can’t do this’.

Recommendation – make sure you have a Dad, Mum, best friend, or family member who can step in and help. I fondly call my husband – display and logistics manager! Eventually, when he is CFO of the business I have grown, he will still remain in charge of this, because heavy lifting and painting, are two things I hate! 

Identity Crisis                                                                                                                 

Accountant to jewellery designer and entrepreneur is quite the jump, so for me my Identity has been quite the challenge. As I have said accountancy is very black and white and now everything very much grey. Instead of doing something highly specialised, I am now a ‘jack of all trades’!

Despite having done courses in jewellery design, having worked in retail and with my business background, I still felt I like imposter when I called myself a jewellery designer and entrepenuer. So what did I do, up until recently, I hid behind the accountancy, like a security blanket and continued to work as a freelance accountant while running the business.

If you feel like this two pieces of advice on this, you’re not super woman and you can only do two jobs for so long. Secondly, almost everyone including Neil Armstrong (the first man on the moon), feels like an imposter. For more on Neil Armstrong and imposter syndrome check this out https://qz.com/984070/neil-gaiman-has-the-perfect-anecdote-for-anyone-with-impostors-syndrome/

Hope this little insight helps anyone thinking of setting up their own business! Please share if you know anyone, who may enjoy reading.


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