APPRENTICE star and West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady answers your career questions and meets an inspirational CEO.
Here, she gives a reader advice on how to overcome the fear of speaking to prospects.
Q) When I watch TV shows like The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den I always get excited to think that maybe I can start growing my little business selling craft supplies that I started a few years ago and that I now carry a little more cash while at the same time looking after my children.
But what keeps me from going to trade shows and trying to expand is that I get so nervous talking to people about what I’m doing.
The pandemic meant I could do everything via email and through my Etsy shop but now the restrictions have eased I know I should get out and meet people and it scares me even if it’s on a one- to one basis is! Do you have any tips?
Jane, via email
Congratulations on running a successful small business and finding new customers with a booth at a trade show is a great idea.
Try to rationalize your fears – what makes you nervous? You know your products are good, so don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Speak proudly of them and your passion will shine through.
Think of a few conversation starters: “Are you looking for something specific today?” or “Have you seen these new tapes?” etc.
With practice, you’ll know if a person wants to chat or be left alone.
Stroll through a few county fairs and see what stallholders use for conversation starters, and stop and chat to build your confidence.
If you’re willing to do it yourself, take a friend or family member to help you.
Don’t let fear hold you back – as Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed in the things you didn’t do than in the things you did.”
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A day in the life of…
Lynda Harding, 57, is the CEO and founder of baby sleep aid company Sweet Dreamers. She is single and lives in Hampshire with three of her six children and their dog Reggie.
I wake up at…
5.45 a.m. Over a cup of tea, I check email, our international and Amazon sales, and our position in the top 100 baby products. We’re usually the best sellers in sleep pacifiers, but I’m always on the lookout for new products. After taking Reggie for a walk, I get ready, eat cereal, and then go to my office next door, which is above the daycare I’ve owned since 1990.
A normal day includes…
After my team of five arrives at 9:30 am, we meet to discuss any outstanding issues as well as product and business development. We develop our ideas in-house and last month launched a partner for our Ewan The Sheep sleep aid, Misty The Smart Cloud, which monitors room temperature, is a sleep coach and can be used with an app.
Three of my sons work for me. Bernie, 33, does graphics and runs the website, Harry, 30, runs sales and marketing, while George, 29, manages logistics. I spend much of my day recording parenting demos and advice segments about safe sleep for our TikTok, which launched in lockdown. I’m an early graduate, so I chat with parents during the day, and sometimes I livestream TikTok in the evenings.
The best thing about my job is…
Working with my sons and knowing I’ve helped change bedtime for 1 million families worldwide.
And the worst…
Brexit and the pandemic have led to a huge increase in shipping costs. We’ve just paid £13,600 to ship containers to the UK when it used to cost us £2,500. It’s impacted our margins so much that we’re now more focused on a direct-to-consumer model. When I developed Ewan, I was in my late 40s and had no retail or product development experience, but I thought, ‘I can do this’ and have built a successful global business.
I relax by…
I finish by 5pm, make some dinner, lock up the nursery at 6pm – it’s run by a manager now – and then go for a walk with Reggie. When one of my kids is there we watch a movie and I love star gazing it’s so relaxing especially when there is a meteor shower.
Karren cannot answer emails personally. The content is provided for general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/17950150/karren-brady-overcome-speaking-anxiety/ Karren Brady’s career tips for overcoming speaking anxiety