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Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Emma Thomson: I’m Emma and I started my business ‘Gemz By Emz’ 10 years ago. Following a period of depression, I started making jewelry as a distraction and here I am today! I started my business with no savings and whilst working full time within an Insurance Company. I did not pay for any advertising or marketing in the very beginning, I simply started a Twitter account and the business grew quickly from there.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Emma Thomson: I believe Entrepreneurs are born, not made. You need to be a certain type of person to be an Entrepreneur! You require resilience, self-motivation, drive, and passion. I believe Entrepreneurs are driven by creativity, thinking outside of the box, and enjoying the actual journey rather than chasing money. I don’t believe these characteristics can be made.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Emma Thomson: I would say that I am resilient as I have overcome some really hard times whilst still running my business. I’m very creative as I am always thinking of new ideas and designs and things to try. I would also say that I’m passionate because even on the worst days I absolutely love what I do! And lastly, I would say I’m caring because I do care so much about my customers and making them happy.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Emma Thomson: My business originally started with me hand-making and selling jewelry. I still do this, however, I have a background in photography and so I found a niche engraving actual photos (alongside handwriting, baby ultrasounds, and more) onto jewelry a couple of years into starting my business. This is where my business is at now and it’s been booming ever since I shifted my niche. I also sell canvases and cushions but everything I sell is primarily based on photos and treasured memories.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Emma Thomson: An entrepreneur should assume that they will be working a lot more hours than any day job, especially in the beginning. They should be aware that some competitors are not nice and they need to have resilience and a strong backbone to be able to ignore this and not lose focus. They will need to remember why they started their business because this will keep them going on their bad days or the days where sales are down. Any entrepreneur also needs to be self-motivated and understand that in the very beginning they will more than likely be doing absolutely everything themselves- web design, social media posts, ordering stock and supplies, accounts, marketing, advertising, creating, responding to queries, etc. It’s not easy at all but it’d be worth it.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Emma Thomson: I don’t believe I made any wrong assumptions and I think that’s because I actually started out making jewelry as a hobby and it gradually just grew into a business. I never made assumptions and just went with the flow.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain
Emma Thomson: I would tell myself to not rely solely on social media and to explore other avenues as well eg collaborating with other businesses, attending events, and networking more. I would tell myself to ignore any mean competitors that I came across, to stay focused on my growth, and to start engraving much sooner!
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Emma Thomson: For me, the worst advice was actually to create a business plan and to receive funding! I have never written a business plan, nor have I needed it! I also worked alongside my business in the beginning to fund it, doing it this way is hard work but I would much rather that than be in lots of debt. I also found this a more secure option should anything go wrong or should I run into cash flow problems.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Emma Thomson: I believe some entrepreneurs think that they need to follow the old school route of writing business plans and going to the bank for a loan or finding premises to start a business. I believe Covid-19 has shown us all that we don’t need any of those things! Nowadays we can work from a laptop from home, we can outsource work to contractors who don’t even live in our area and we can get to know our audience and build a bond with them using social media for free!
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Emma Thomson: I believe a common myth is that you require tons of money to start a business. This is not true, particularly today! You can start a business on barely any money, it will require a lot more work but it’s absolutely possible. I would advise them to always start a business in something that they are passionate about because when you’re passionate it makes all of those long hours and hard work worthwhile. It doesn’t feel like you’re working when you love what you do. Once the hard work pays off and you start to earn a lot more money you can then hire others to do the tasks you dislike or are not as great at.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Emma Thomson: Before starting a business I believe that you need to be passionate about your business idea. Running a business is a lot of hard work and long hours in the beginning so you need to be doing something you love and are passionate about. You also need to remember why you’re starting a business for the same reason – to keep you motivated on the bad days. It is vital to have self-motivation and drive in the world of business because you are your boss so you need to be disciplined enough to ensure you do what needs to be done! Rather than having the attitude of ‘I can do that tomorrow.’ I also believe you need to be very resilient to start a business! You’re going to come across other difficult businesses and competitors- some will do nasty things and you have to be able to shake it off and separate your business from yourself. Never react and do the professional thing! The same goes for customers- now and again you will experience a difficult customer and you cannot let emotions get the better of you.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Emma Thomson: The business world is changing all of the time and we are becoming more and more involved with the online world. I don’t think any of us can predict what the future will hold but I would say educate yourself on business, on profit margins, on accounts, and on managing cash flow. If all of those are in order then it will make the ride so much smoother! I have purchased books from other well-known entrepreneurs and I am always reading success stories, business articles online and in print.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Emma Thomson: I truly don’t think I would choose a job that involves working for anybody else. The reason being I like the freedom that entrepreneurship brings. With that being said I am extremely good at investigating and have a huge interest in crime, fraud, and photography so I would probably be a fraud investigator or a forensic photographer.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Emma Thomson: My dad! Because he is an entrepreneur himself and I get all of my traits and a lot of my ideas from him.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Emma Thomson for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Emma Thomson or her company, you can do it through her – Facebook
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