My very first podcast guest is Hannah Martin. Hannah and I have been connected for around 6 years and met through a mastermind group. She’s the founder of the Talented Ladies Club, an online magazine and training provider for entrepreneurial and ambitious women. Launched in 2013, it’s already attracted over 4 million readers all over the world. You’ll learn more about Hannah’s journey and how she achieved that amazing milestone since she launched the Club
What you’ll hear
● [1:32] About Hannah and her background
● [3:10] What made her decide to become an entrepreneur
● [6:03] How she came up with the idea for the Talented Ladies Club
● [7:32] What her family do and how they shaped Hannah into what she’s become
● [10:42] How she found the motivation, courage, and inspiration to set up and run a business
● [12:50] What help she had in building her business
● [14:50] The point where Hannah started making money from her business
● [20:00] How she faced and overcame challenges, particularly from a mental perspective, when it’s easier just to give up
● [27:45] The most interesting place in the world Hannah’s visited
● [28:45] Hannah’s final tips
About Hannah and her Background
Hannah started her career as a copywriter for advertising agencies, moving to Hong Kong aged 23 after dropping out of art college. A careers adviser told her to get an office job, so she took a risk and bought a one-way ticket. At the time, Hong Kong was still under British rule, so she didn’t need a work visa.
She went with no contacts and no plan, but found a career she loved. Five years, she moved to London and had success in agencies there. After the birth of her children and juggling her responsibilities, she decided to set up on her own.
Why She Decided to Become an Entrepreneur
In 2007, Hannah gave up her secure, full-time job. She was going through a divorce and felt that she needed to make a change. With a lot of responsibilities, she had a profitable first year as a freelancer.
Once her daughter arrived, she stopped commuting to London and worked from home. Running her business locally allowed her to meet other women in similar situations. Hannah found that they were all talented and successful, but struggled to find a way to be paid well for the career they loved while being a mother at the same time.
It dawned on Hannah that there must be thousands of women around the world in the same position, but there was no supportive community online, instead, she says:
“The only sites I found that addressed mothers and working said things like ‘you had a career, now maybe you can have a job on a till at a supermarket.’”
How she Came up with the Idea for the Talented Ladies Club
Those early experiences gave Hannah her new idea, to provide women with inspiration, hope and permission, and to provide networking and opportunities for collaboration.
Having no money to build the site for some time, Hannah’s friend Carrie finally offered to help her get the idea off the ground. She also introduced Hannah to a newly-qualified business coach looking for someone to work with.
The coaching sessions helped Hannah to define exactly what the Talented Ladies Club (TLC) would do, and enabled her to find a developer. Four months later, she launched the business.
What Hannah’s Family do
Hannah admits that she didn’t see herself as an entrepreneur, and that held her back for a while, despite being a successful freelancer. Both parents ran businesses when she was younger – her father started out in the building trade and bought houses in need of complete renovation.
The family lived in the house while it was done up – doing this allowed them to move up the property ladder and eventually led to a successful building firm. After selling that, Hannah’s parents renovated a large house which became the highest-rated guesthouse in North Devon.
Her parents had no connections or qualifications but were entrepreneurial and hardworking. Hannah believes they set up their own businesses out of necessity, as a way to get out of poorly paid jobs that were holding them back.
How She Found the Motivation, Courage, and Inspiration to set up and Run a Business
Hannah says that there are times when motivation ebbs and flows – sometimes you’re excited by what you do, and other times you’re bored with it, or you have a rough patch.
“Everyone goes through those things, so to pretend that every day is joyous would be misleading to people.”
She adds that she stays enthusiastic and exciting by constantly evolving her business, making it interesting and taking risks. Getting out of her comfort zone really helps. She’s able to do this because of the people she works with, including her coach.
“It’s good to have someone to talk to about your business, in a ‘war room.’ Rather than being that foot soldier on the ground, fighting the battle, sometimes you’ve got to be in the war room with the generals, planning those battles.’
Working with other people allows Hannah to see her business from a distance, which inspires her to make decisions and find her bigger purpose. When the tough times come, you’ve got to just put one foot in front of the other, but find people to help you and get you through it.
What Help She had in Building her Business
Hannah explains that when she worked with her friend Carrie, they set up a membership site, with a plan to have 100 workbooks available to the members and new ones added all the time.
Hannah wrote the workbooks and Carrie designed them, but it was Hannah who was the driving force. After a year of hard work, Carrie had lost her passion for the membership. They parted amicably and Carrie still does all the branding and design for the business.
The Point Where Hannah Started Making Money from Her Business
TLC always made money and never operated at a loss, but in the beginning, this was a very modest sum. Hannah hired a business coach so she could take the business to the next level and be able to take money out of it.
She met her coach when they were both speaking at the same event, and Hannah knew immediately that she wanted to work with her. A month’s coaching cost more than the business turned over each month, but Hannah was able to take some money out to cover the expense, knowing that she was able to do so without risking TLC.
Within a few months, TLC began to make money, and it has continued to grow ever since. The coach showed Hannah things that she was getting wrong in the business, which taught her a lot. Having the accountability and being able to draw on the coach’s expertise also made a big difference.
Hannah adds that knowing she was investing a lot of money meant that she had to take things seriously and that early success has led her to work with other business coaches. She explains that the process involves fixing one part of the business at a time and finding the right person to help at each stage.
A coach only needs to be a couple of rungs ahead of you on the ladder, but it can have a huge impact – they’re able to show you how to get to where they are now. And, Hannah says, in turn she reaches behind her to help those further down the ladder.
How She Faced and Overcame Challenges
Hannah says she’s always taken risks in business and they haven’t all worked out. However, they’ve all taught her something, and whenever she has a setback she takes the time to regroup. A setback makes you feel battered and unable to be creative, so Hannah does something else.
She gives the example of bringing on board an intern in the early days of TLC. Her plan was to find a mum looking to develop her skills – in return for helping out in the business, Hannah would train her to either join as a full-time employee or find work elsewhere.
The plan initially worked out well, and Hannah was ready to make her intern a partner in the business. Unfortunately, at that time TLC still wasn’t making enough profit, so the intern made the decision to find a more secure role.
While Hannah understood and the parting was amicable, she admits to feeling crushed at the end of her hopes and dreams, and like she’d gone backwards in the business. Her solution at the time was to sit down and do admin – routine tasks which had to be done for the business that would help her settle down.
There is a happy ending, though. Hannah stayed in touch with her intern, Jo, and when TLC started to make a healthy profit a couple of years later, she offered her a full-time, salaried position. Jo’s been on the team ever since.
Hannah says that relationships are really important to her, and of all the people who’ve worked with her in TLC, she’s remained friends with. She’s prouder of that than of her business successes.
With regard to confidence, Hannah says she was a painfully shy teenager, but she says she’s worked hard to not let it hold her back. Moving to Hong Kong, for example, was a huge challenge, but one she overcame and led to great success.
And she’s applied the same rule in business. Hannah says she’s constantly scared by things, but she puts one foot in front of the other and just does it:
“The only way we gain confidence is through experience. Not every experience will go well, but at this age, I’m wise enough to know that.”
The Most Interesting Place in the World Hannah’s Visited
Hannah says there are two countries that hold a special place in her heart – Indonesia and Nepal. If she had to pick one, it would be Nepal. It’s a beautiful country, and the people are very gentle, despite how harsh their lives are.
Hannah’s Final Tips
“Keep going, and don’t let failure hold you back. Accept that not everything is going to go well, but also accept that you’ll learn from things when they go wrong.”
About this episode
Hannah Martin is the founder of the Talented Ladies Club, an online magazine and training provider for entrepreneurial and ambitious women.
Launched in 2013, the Talented Ladies Club has already attracted over 4 million readers all over the world. In this episode, you’ll learn more about Hannah’s journey and how she achieved this amazing milestone since she launched the Club!