How to be a little more you and a lot less them

Top Tips from Successful Personal Brand Strategist Who Was Inspired by her Gran

Nicki James, 31 is a hugely successful personal brand strategist and champion for female entrepreneurs, and it was her Gran who inspired her. She says, “My Grandma Betty taught me that we get to choose how to pay our adversity forwards and the power we have as women.”  Nicki was challenged to step out of her comfort zone and into her potential by her Gran, a fabulously forthright lady who saw more in Nicki and encouraged her to do more and be more, from a total place of love – “be a little more you and a lot less them”. 

Betty took Nicki aside and told her she was destined for greater things and her Nan wasn’t wrong. Nicki now runs a multi 6 figure personal branding business and has experienced highs of 50K months and she now champions other women in business, just like her Grandma Betty championed her.

Nicki hasn’t always had a voice. The 6 year old version of her had it drilled in to her it was ‘better to be seen and not heard’ and that it was indeed safer to keep quiet and hide, thanks to growing up with an alcoholic father with aggressive tendencies who had regular visits from the bailiffs. Blending into the background and hiding was actually a honed skill and very much her coping mechanism, something that was further accentuated when she experienced bullying at school . It’s taken her a lot of personal development work to fight against this intrinsic belief that it’s not safe to stand out, and she sees many of her clients struggle with deep-rooted beliefs from past experiences that are also keeping them hidden.

Her career path was always pretty aligned as she had a passion from a child for art and knew she wanted to study graphic design. At 16 she studied for a BTEC diploma in graphic design and then a degree and in doing so became the first person in the family to go to university. She soon started working for magazines including National Geographic Traveller and Health & Fitness magazine. It was a difficult time in the print industry and she was made redundant – four times in four years.

By the time she was 27 she’d become the Art Editor at Olive Magazine – and to the outside world was successful but she knew something was missing – as did her Grandma Betty. Just before she died Betty took Nicki aside and told her she was destined for greater things than her 9-5 – and this was a huge driving force in her entering the world of self-employment.

Nicki’s husband Rob, is a copywriter and the couple did their own stationery for their wedding – this was where Nicki’s initial business idea was born. They created a business named Betty Lou Designs in memory of Betty, and 6 months later after realising she was earning more in her side-business than from her salary. On the brink of burnout, she left the world of magazines behind. However this business didn’t completely fulfil her, and Nicki realised she could use her design skills in more powerful ways. She decided to focus on her brand knowledge and connect that to her love of design, and to her desire to help other women to achieve success, and after getting herself a business coach she launched her branding business in 2017.

Her mission to release the magic of other women in business- by giving them permission to be themselves, helping her clients to show up, get visible and kick imposter syndrome into touch as they step into their true zones of genius and rightful places in the world, so that they can grow successful businesses whilst still celebrating their individuality and true purpose.

Fighting against the misconception that you need to be split personality as a business owner- one person for work, one person for home, Nicki is passionate about empowering female entrepreneurs with confidence and clarity around their marketing helping them see that the rocket fuel that helps them fly – is them, and that the secret sauce they need to grow their business isn’t the latest ‘marketing magic’’ – but their individual magic, which needs to be conveyed. She empowers women to unlock their full potential by building a brand that looks, feels and sounds like them.

Nicki’s Top 5 Tips on How to “be a little more you and a lot less them…”

  • Remove the Masks – Define who you are and bring that to the table with your brand. There is no mask to be worn here. You don’t need to become something you are not. The most successful business owners I know are just owning who they are and rocking it. It’s about working out why you are special and different to everyone else that does what you do and showing that every single day.
  • Start building connections by telling your story. It’s true there will be a million people who can teach what you teach, there is no such thing as new news, but there is ONLY one you. So how do you stand out amongst your competitors? Especially when they might have more experience than you? You need to use your story and the journey you’ve been on so far as this is your individuality in a crowded market. It’s a way for you to teach your lessons in a way no one else can. You can use your story to help people to identify with you and relate to you. When people feel a connection with you they are more likely to buy.
  • Be Collaborative – Find Your Cheerleaders – Everyone needs cheerleaders around them, supporting them. I always put collaboration over competition. Always. And as a champion of women I love the power we can harness when we all come together. We’re unstoppable, right? And if 2020 taught us anything it’s that we need each other – raving cheerleaders who push us, support us, inspire us and are ready to fix each other’s crowns.
  • Niche down = sales up! A common misconception when first starting out is to try and appeal to everyone. If you create something that appeals to the masses then surely you will attract more people because you are more diverse, no? Nope! When you think about the type of customer who truly sets your soul on fire and talk to a smaller number of people you have more chance of converting them to paying customers. Don’t go too broad. Understand your customer inside and out and reap the rewards from doing so.
  • Have a Vision – Have a vision of where you want your business to be. A big mistake entrepreneurs make is that they launch into the world, logo and website in hand and think that they will by magic get to where they want to be. Be inundated with clients and it just doesn’t work that way. Having a vision of what success will look like for you when you get there and a strategy to get you there is the key to brand success. We can’t brand our business for where we are now. It’s about looking to our future and aiming for that.

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