By Sophie Attwood, founder and Managing Director of public relations consultancy Sophie Attwood Communications, which focuses on trailblazing brands and experts in the health, aesthetics, surgical and beauty sector.
As a young woman who has founded her own startup, Sophie Attwood knows first hand the challenges that women face when taking a business idea from conception through to implementation and delivery.
After graduating from The University of Birmingham, now award-winning PR consultant, Sophie started working in the public relations industry and quickly discovered her passion. From there she gained a wealth of experience in the sector before taking the huge leap of faith and founding her own public relations company in 2017.
Since then she’s worked hard to build a talented and creative team and curate a portfolio of exceptional brands, representing trailblazers within the health, wellness, beauty and medical aesthetics industry from household beauty names through to leading cosmetic surgeons and award-winning skincare brands.
She regularly sees clients featured in Vogue, Tatler, Glamour, Vanity Fair, as well as broadcast and television channels.
In addition to gaining first-class coverage for her clients, Sophie’s ethics and integrity are paramount – meaning that she works to advocate industry guidelines and act as a positive influence in a sector which often comes under negative scrutiny.
Amid the brand’s global expansion, Sophie shared her top tips for overcoming the challenges faced by women in business:
- Understand Growth Mindset
Overcome the fear of challenges and the unknown by understanding the Growth Mindset. This is essentially the belief that skills and intelligence can be improved with effort and persistence. People with this mindset embrace challenges, stay resilient when faced with difficulties, and learn from constructive criticism. They’re also inspired by the success of others so if you work with this belief you develop a fantastic office culture of positivity through shared knowledge. We don’t all naturally have this mindset but it’s a really positive one to try and foster, both in business and everyday life.
- Accept that some failures are inevitable
There is a tendency nowadays for people to try and do everything they can to avoid failure and I see this a lot in the workplace, especially amongst women. However, my advice would be that if you learnt to accept that some failure is inevitable you’ll be less scared to take risks and more likely push yourself out of your comfort zone and use any mistakes to learn from them and move on with improved knowledge.
- Take a step back sometimes
When you’re at the centre of your business, no matter how big or small it is, this can be very hard to do. However sometimes being able to take a step back is vital because it will give you the perspective to see the bigger picture. To look at what’s going well and assess what can be improved.
- Keep a check on your work-life balance
This is one of the biggest challenges faced by many women who are starting and running their own business, because there is always more that can be done. And nowadays with technology allowing more flexibility of working than ever, the benefits of this can sometimes be negated by the fact that many women feel like they never truly switch off from the demands of work. Consequently they lack a healthy balance with their work and personal life. There is no miracle solution for this but one of the best things to try and achieve a better work-life balance for me has been to turn off my phone for hours at a time at weekends and only catch up on work until a set time in the evening.’
- Realise that money isn’t the most important thing
It sounds counterintuitive to some people to think like this when you’re running a business, because that, after all, is the nature of most businesses. However my experience has taught me that running a business fuelled by passion needs to take priority. Underpin your services with your ethics and values and channel your mission statement into everything that you do. Remember that the most unique thing that the business has is you – and if your sole focus is money then the customer will cotton on to that pretty quickly.
- Own and celebrate your achievements
I find that women often have a tendency to credit other people, circumstances or even chance for their successes. Whereas men often seem to do the opposite! Sometimes this is because women are scared of being perceived as boastful or competitive, however, this tendency can in fact be hugely negative to confidence.
You can start to overcome this by practising acknowledging and celebrating your successes. Some people find it useful to do this in writing, or even to hold a regular meeting in the workplace when all employees have the opportunity to celebrate their successes and achievements. (I do this, and my team still struggle to find something positive to say about themselves!). By seeing this as a celebration rather than a ‘boast’ you will not only improve confidence but also foster a more positive mindset – for both yourself and your team.