Melitta Campbell is a Business and Communications Coach who guides women in confidently building profitable businesses through her step-by-step programs and coaching.
She started her entrepreneurial journey 12 years ago following the birth of her first child. She didn’t know if she had what it took to succeed, but found it a wonderful way to engage in meaningful work and create the flexibility and balance she wanted in life – but not without making a few mistakes along the way…
When did you start your first business?
Officially, I started my business twelve years ago, when I set myself up as a communications consultant and corporate writer. But I actually ran two businesses as a child, so maybe entrepreneurship has always been in my blood.
Aged 14, I ran coloring competitions in a pony magazine, raising more than £200 for a donkey sanctuary. Then aged 15, I ran a Tuck Shop with four friends at school, selling sweets and drinks at break times. We won a Young Enterprise Award for our achievements and made £100 profit each, which felt like a lottery win!
How much do you feel your business education has enabled your success?
That’s a great question. I gained my first business degree from an art school, which has enabled me to look at business problems with curiosity and challenge myself to consistently find new and better ways to deliver results. Seeing things differently and being able to create innovative solutions has definitely been an asset over the years.
Five-years into my career, I gained my CIM postgraduate diploma in Marketing and Communication. This gave me a robust insight into what it takes to build a solid market position and build a business that’s connected to real client needs and desires. I feel this is critical knowledge for all business owners.
Having said that, the real learning comes from the experience of putting the theory into practice, pushing its boundaries, reflecting on what works best and refining your thinking and processes accordingly. Then your new knowledge becomes a practical tool.
Do you think entrepreneurs need a formal business education?
Not necessarily. There are plenty of MBA graduates who have failed in their start-up and business owners who have succeeded without any formal education. Knowledge is great, but success in business is all about action and momentum.
If you want to by-pass ‘learning the hard way’, then learning what works through courses, books or a coach is the best way to go. Even if you already have some business knowledge, I believe that success and growth is all about mastery through incremental improvements, so it’s important to embrace life-long learning.
How did you know the time was right to start your own business?
While I loved my corporate career and I had worked hard to build my position to a leadership level, when I had my first daughter, my priorities changed, and I wanted more flexibility. I had no clue if I could succeed in my own business, but I knew I had to try at least. It’s been an extraordinary journey, which has been incredibly tough at times, but twelve years on, I’m so pleased I took that leap of faith.
What has been your biggest challenge since starting your business?
My first business was actually quite easy. While I worried about everything initially, I had a good network and a solid reputation within the communications community, so I found my first clients quickly and, through referrals, networking and public speaking, I was able to consistently attract a steady flow of interesting and well-paid work.
What I learned, however, is that not all clients are the right clients. As demand for my expertise grew, instead of using that opportunity to refining and elevating my offer for my best clients, I said ‘Yes’ to everyone. This caused me to fall out of love with my work, and I found myself close to burnout. Thankfully I caught myself in time and was able to make changes before the inevitable happened.
I took a step back and refocused on my strengths, purpose and what gave me the most joy – which was creating value, meaning and connection through authentic marketing and messaging. That’s also when I decided to use my skills, knowledge and experience to coach small businesses rather than consult for large corporates.
Why do you only work with women?
In my corporate career, when I landed a promotion that saw me move into a prominent leadership position, I wanted to use that opportunity to inspire more women to move up the career ladder.
Typical of most Swiss banks at the time, my company was male-dominated and so my aim was to give members (male and female) access to inspiring female role models, run workshops to help women explore their natural leadership abilities and host panel discussions to find solutions to common challenges.
I loved this network and the way it started to change the company culture for the better, making it stronger and more inclusive from the inside out. But when I started my own business, I couldn’t find an equivalent network for female entrepreneurs and that was always in the back of my mind.
When I moved into business coaching, I saw my opportunity and created the Driven Female Entrepreneur Club, a free online community to promote networking and discussion amongst female entrepreneurs. I also started a podcast with the same name to give business owners access to inspiring role models.
To help more women build a profitable business that feels like their own, I created the ‘Dream Clients Blueprint’, a group business-coaching program that provides clear step-by-step guidance through learning modules and live coaching. I also include regular live sessions with other leading business experts to drill down deeper into topics such as sales, visibility, mindset and pricing.
Although this group is exclusively for women, I do work with a handful of male entrepreneurs on a 121 basis – business best practice works the same for men as it does for women.
What’s the future for your business?
My Dad once gave me this advice: “Whatever decisions you make in life, make sure they result in choices,” and I feel that that’s where I am right now, facing a range of choices in terms of what direction to take my business and community next.
I will definitely continue with my existing community and group-program as they are getting fantastic results, often in just a matter of weeks, and having access to a supportive and caring community is more important than ever in these challenging times.
In terms of how I plan to deepen the support I offer to Female Entrepreneurs, you’ll have to watch this space. I have some exciting ideas and collaborations on the horizon!
What are your top three tips for business success?
It’s so hard to narrow success down to just a few tips as there are so many dimensions in play. But these are three aspects I feel are often overlooked:
Be Authentic – It’s crucial to know who you are and what’s important to you. Without this, you can’t share your vision and value with the confidence needed to connect with your tribe, and establish a meaningful position in the market. Linked to this will be knowing who you most want to serve and how you want to show up for them.
Stay in Action – Nothing happens if nothing happens. That said, it’s important to remain focused on those actions that will take your business forward in ways that are aligned to your vision and values. As I mentioned earlier, consistency and momentum are key to success.
Get Support – It takes courage and conviction to launch and thrive in business and it’s hard to achieve this alone. Build a network of inspirational and supportive people around you who get your vision and want to see you succeed – and for whom you want to do the same.
I’d also recommend getting a business coach too. I know I’m biased on this point, but having a customized business education (that pays for itself), accountability and ongoing support will help you achieve success faster, and in ways that not only ensure you build a stable and profitable business, but that support your desired lifestyle too.