Getting To Know You: Claire Mitchell

What do you currently do?

I run The Girls Mean Business – a global online community of over 17000 women business owners. My day-to-day work involves writing and delivering coaching programmes to female entrepreneurs on marketing, confidence, productivity and sales as well as dropping in on my social media groups to answer questions and have a chat. My team and I are finalising our first annual event, The Girls Mean Business Big Event in Covent Garden on 14 September. We’ll be launching our Girls Mean Business awards then, which is an exciting development. We’re also going to be visiting cities all over the UK in 2013 and 2014 with our Girls Mean Business Roadshow.

What is your inspiration in business?
My inspiration is the ladies I work with. Every day I hear of women building businesses while raising a family (harder than it sounds!), battling ill health, dealing with tragedies and holding down other jobs. I defy anyone not to be impressed and inspired by these women’s stories. I love the fact that they have turned The Girls Mean Business into a huge, amazing community which provides a support network and sounding board for so many people. I’m very lucky in that I am surrounded by inspiring people every single day. I’m also inspired to build my business for my family. I have a 5 year old daughter and great husband who keep me on the straight and narrow and I want to give us the best life I can.

Who do you admire?
I admire anyone who builds a business just by being themselves. Being authentic (as opposed to fake) is really important to me, especially in my business ‘world’ where many online coaches talk a good game but it’s all a front. I love Oprah Winfrey and I’ve got a lot of respect for Richard Branson too. I also admire the people who have helped and coached me along the way – Ian Waddelow, Karen Rutter and my current coach Kim Duke who’s based in Canada.

Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
I have made so many mistakes I can’t even begin to count them. I was a square peg in a round hole in the corporate world for 12 years before I set up on my own. I made pretty much every mistake in the book – undercharging, not managing client expectations, not understanding my finances. It wasn’t until I opened a marketing agency that I realised I’m a terrible man manager and if I turned back the clock I’d give that one a miss. I have to say, though, that all of these mistakes are what made me who I am. I wouldn’t have The Girls Mean Business without them and it’s given me a wealth of experience I can dip into when someone needs advice!

What defines your way of doing business?
Being authentic and doing what you love – and outsourcing what you don’t enjoy. Most of my clients are small and micro business owners who often ‘fall’ into starting a business because they can’t get a job after raising children, or they’re made redundant or they just can’t stand where they’re working any more. They have a great idea, something they’re passionate about but then they end up creating a ‘job’ for themselves where they’re working too many hours, not charging enough, struggling with their marketing, lacking in confidence and they get themselves into a rut. It’s not what they signed up for and they fall out of love with their business because they’re worn out, broke and stuck. I help them to realise that they CAN run a business, they can manage their finances and marketing and that they can have a life too. I also encourage them to outsource the jobs they hate so that they free up mental bandwidth to focus on what they’re good at.