Diamond In The Rough
Ladies, I wanted you to see this interview with a great woman, Kindah Mardam Bey (Editor-in-Chief) of Press +1 (http://Pressplus1.com). I am humbled by how she put it all together. Thank you, Kindah.
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: An interview with author and businesswoman extraordinaire Erica Diamond
What a delight it is as a businesswoman to sit down and read a book like Erica Diamond’s 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before….Starting Their Own Business. Of course, I wish this book had appeared on my desktop prior to publishing Press+1, but it was reassuring to know that many of the pitfalls, hardships, learning curves and successes along the way were not my own – they were shared by other businesswomen on a similar journey.
Diamond turned an unintended twist of fate into a successful business endeavour in the corporate custom gift empire. After Erica Diamond sold her business, her initiative took over once again and she developed another successful and growing empire, the “Women On The Fence” blog. Diamond has a gift, a talent and a lot of skill for turning an idea into a business success, so it was inevitable she would pass on her wisdom to others who were just starting out as entrepreneurs.
99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before….Starting Their Own Business is a book full of wisdom, intelligence, common sense and sound advice. If you are a woman deciding to become an entrepreneur, then this is the book for you. No matter how big or small you want your business to become, Diamond will give you the inside edge on common business sense learned through years of experience.
As her book recently launched, Erica and I had the chance to sit down and chat about her new book, being businesswomen and being women on the fence….
PRESS+1 (Kindah): What inspired you to be an independent businesswoman?
ERICA DIAMOND: Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. This is not a word of a lie. My play in the basement when I was growing up as an only child was always me owning SOMETHING… a restaurant, a boutique, whatever. I always knew, even after I flunked my GMATs and didn’t get into MBA school, that I would eventually become my own boss. That was the dream.
PRESS+1 (Kindah): What are some of the positives and negatives to being a woman in the world of business, and especially as a self-starter?
ERICA DIAMOND: Positives: Make your own hours, make your own pay, make your own way. Change the universe if you so choose. Your destiny is in your hands.
Negatives: everything I just stated! LOL! Scary that the buck stops with you. Despite making your own hours, when it’s your own business, it’ll never be a 9 to 5 thing. All encompassing. And it’s quite a big responsibility. You gotta have the stomach for it. 😉
PRESS+1 (Kindah): If you could give only one piece of crucial advice to someone starting up their business, what would it be?
ERICA DIAMOND: Do what you love and the money will come. I didn’t coin this phrase. Actually, I think it was my idol, Oprah, who did, and I believe it to be 100% fact.
PRESS+1 (Kindah): You make an interesting point about being a businesswoman without going overboard and being a control freak (pg. 32). Being an independent businesswoman myself, it was a huge bridge for me to cross in handing over the reigns and not trying to do everything, but oversee everything. Tell me a little bit about your own development in this area and what helped spur you along.
ERICA DIAMOND: When we started making mistakes in our business, I knew it was time to delegate. No one can do it all, and you don’t WANT to do it all in your business. Surround yourself with people SMARTER than you, and delegate, playing to everyone’s strengths. You will not be able to catch every falling star, and unfortunately you will probably learn the hard way (after a few slip ups), that spreading the reigns is a good thing. But remember who’s boss!
PRESS+1 (Kindah): In your #25th thing women wish they knew before opening a business, you discuss starting from home and not necessarily racing downtown for some prime office real estate. This seems like such an invaluable tip, especially with online being so prominent theses days. Between your previous business endeavours and your successful blog, perhaps you can elaborate on some of the benefits of starting a business at home or online.
ERICA DIAMOND: Cost savings is obviously the biggest, but there’s also flexibility, more time with your kids. We were literally busting out of our first office before moving to a larger showroom and office. No harm in thinking big, but starting small.
PRESS+1 (Kindah): You discuss in Chapter 4 a lot of personal skills and internal dialogue required to be in business. You talk about “mental toughness” and “emotional strength” as core attributes to success. Not to mention self-belief and an ability to absorb constructive criticism, even if it is wrapped up in the attitude of a “hater.” Do you have a particular memory or learning experience in your own career that stands out where you had to use mental toughness, self-belief or turn a “hater’s” comments into constructive criticism for your own growth as a businesswoman?
ERICA DIAMOND: A client once told me I lost an order after working very hard on closing it. I traced back all my steps and I couldn’t figure out what went wrong, until I realized I was doing most of the talking and not the listening. I wasn’t being attuned to the client’s needs. Someone else was, and my competitor got the order. It taught me the art of listening. Listening to learn, listening to gain insight into the other person, and listening to help your own brand grow. You always have to LISTEN.
PRESS+1 (Kindah): One of the most personally beneficial aspects of business for me has been how honest with yourself you seem to end up being. In your book you discuss how it is important to learn what your fears are, be honest about your strengths and skills, take constructive criticism and so on. As you majored in psychology at University, tell us a little about how growing your own business can also contribute to a businesswoman’s personal development as well.
ERICA DIAMOND: There is one thing I credit my good self esteem to. Actually 2: my parents for instilling the notion in me that I can be anything I want to be, and proving to myself that I can be successful. My self esteem shot through the roof as I started proving to myself that I can dream something up, falter along the way, but still make it happen. Becoming a female entrepreneur will add greatly to your personal development. It will take you out of your comfort zone, and will be scary at times, but you will derive much satisfaction.
PRESS+1 (Kindah): You give some really valid advice in your book to budding entrepreneurs. Quite often these “tricks of the trade” are held back from newcomers and they learn along the way during a sequence of “hard lessons.” Tell me why you were so willing to be generous with your own lessons you learned along the way to your readers.
ERICA DIAMOND: That is who I am. Despite never having been a teacher, I enjoy the teaching
role. If I can help a woman avoid pitfalls while starting her own business, ones that I already made and know not to make again, teaching that is a tremendous sense of accomplishment for me, as well as for her. So, once I’m helping her, I’m not holding back. I’m giving her ALL the tools. I do the same in my Blog, WomenOnTheFence.com. I don’t hold back there at all either.
PRESS+1 (Kindah): You also give some great advice in Chapter 9 on how to keep your company out of debt, and even incorporating that philosophy at home. In essence, the book doubles at times as a “how to” in life as in business. Did you do this intentionally? Why was that?
ERICA DIAMOND: That’s what makes this book compete… it’s about business, life and balance. Everything I incorporated into my own life to become successful. It’s not just about the business, or just about the kids, or just about making time to do the things you love. We are multi-faceted individuals, so I wanted that balance chapter in there, as well as tips to a good life. It brings the arc full circle. So that’s why I wrote about all of it!
PRESS+1 (Kindah): In Chapter 10 “The Emotional Side of Business? We Are Women After All!” You discuss an important business trait for both men and women – “emotional Intelligence.” I tend to reference this in my own business as that intersection point between logic and instinct. Is “emotional intelligence” a skill that business owners are looking for more and more? Is this a key skill to cultivate in order to build your career as an entrepreneur or as an employee of an entrepreneur?
ERICA DIAMOND: You bet! And it goes a lot on intuition. You have to have that sixth sense when it comes to choosing employees. This may be a productive employee, but is this an honest employee? Is this a hardworking employee who cares? Is this one that is going to disrespect you and other employees? Does this employee show good morals and values? That is worth much to your company. Emotional intelligence is very important to the productivity of your business.
PRESS+1 (Kindah): You have a fantastic and successful blog “Women On The Fence” that we also feature on Press+1, and that can be seen at www.womenonthefence.com. Tell us a little bit about where the inspiration for your blog came from, and what you hope to achieve with it.
ERICA DIAMOND: Sitting on the fence in my life last year, 4 years after I sold my company, I didn’t know where to put myself. My kids were in school and I was growing bored at home. My entrepreneurial spark was going off again. My dream was to connect women who were in the same position as me, on the fence, but in ALL areas of life… on the fence in marriage, career, with kids, in sexuality and health, etc… I wanted it to be a hub, for support and inspiration. My goal is to continue inspiring, teaching and hopefully entertaining the world. My readers are all over the globe, and the feedback has been tremendous. I have my sights on a few things, but I’m gonna keep mum on them for now. I am currently working on something that is enormous, and if comes through, will change my life.
PRESS+1 (Kindah): What is your favourite quote or advice you like to live by?
ERICA DIAMOND: I have 4:
“What makes you different makes you beautiful.” – Author Unknown
“Don’t judge those who try and fail. Judge those who fail to try.” – Author Unknown
“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou
“To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before….Starting Their Own Business launched entirely digitally and is eco-friendly. This has many advantages for the reader, as the book is about 10 to 15 dollars cheaper than in a bookstore and the information is instantaneous. You can find out more about Erica’s book here: http://www.WomenOnTheFence.com/ericas-book/ and http://99-Series.com