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Empowering Women in Business: 'Find people on a similar journey’

3-minute read

Catriona Smith

10 March 2022

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Having faced discrimination and harassment in their corporate careers, the founders of Watch This Sp_ce wanted to create a world where everyone is treated fairly and feels they belong.

Interview with Watch This Sp_ce

As part of this years’ International Women’s Day theme of #BreakTheBias, we caught up with Allegra Chapman, co-founder of Watch this Sp_ce, to find out more about her journey setting up a diversity and inclusion business in Brighton.

What challenges have you faced running your business?

We started our business at the beginning of a global pandemic, which came with all sorts of challenges. We weren’t able to meet in person for months, so most of the early business decisions and team meetings all took place via Zoom.

At the height of the pandemic, most of the businesses that we were targeting as clients were understandably very nervous about what the future would hold. It was therefore really important that we emphasised the business benefits of the work we do – that diversity and inclusion make businesses more successful, more profitable, and more likely to survive during times of crisis.

What key qualities does it take to be a successful business owner and entrepreneur?

We’re keen to challenge the stereotypical idea of what a business leader or entrepreneur should be – there’s room for lots of different types of people to be running businesses, and the more variety there is within the business landscape then the more innovation and creativity we will have.

It helps to have a co-founder, or a team, involved in setting up a business, so that, whatever skills and qualities you bring to the table, you have someone else to bring different ones, as well as to challenge you and to help you consider different points of view.

The most important element of entrepreneurship is to really believe in what you are doing and to be truly passionate about making it happen.

It’s a long and complex road getting a business to a point where you feel successful, so having a clear purpose to guide you and genuinely caring about the impact you want to have is what will carry you through.

Quote from Allegra Chapman

What's been your proudest moment so far as a business owner?

Winning the Simply Business Business Boost competition was an incredible moment for us. To have a panel of experts that we greatly admire and respect all think that our business deserved that support meant the world to us. It still hasn’t really sunk in.

Apart from that, the brilliant feedback that we’ve had from our clients has been wonderful. Knowing that we’re making a difference to their businesses and inspiring positive change is the whole reason that we started this business and it makes us incredibly proud.

What motivates you to keep going, even when things are difficult?

In our previous corporate careers, we all had terrible experiences of discrimination, bullying and harassment in the workplace. We’ve also heard so many stories, and continue to hear stories every day, from friends and people we work with about their horrific experiences. We don’t want anyone else to go through that.

Our main motivator is our vision for a better world of work where everyone is treated fairly and everyone feels they have a place to belong.

Watch This Sp_ce team photo
From left: Mo Kanjilal, Allegra Chapman, Rachel Pearson

What's been the most important lesson you've learnt while running your business?

Be prepared for the unexpected. Even without global pandemics, life and business are both highly unpredictable.

A flexible approach to working has really helped us, to be able to work around kids, pick up work when someone else is having a crisis and adapt to what our clients want. Have a plan, but be prepared to throw it in the bin and start again from time to time.

What would be your number one piece of advice for women aspiring to start their own business?

Do it. In our coaching work we come across so many brilliant women with amazing business ideas who are holding themselves back because they’re convinced they’re not ready, or they’re not the right person to run a business, or they’re not good enough, or they won’t be taken seriously.

It’s a great idea to get your business concept validated and to put a business plan in place, but don’t use that as procrastination or to put off getting started. Take the plunge and get stuck in as soon as you can. The world needs you and your business. If you wait forever, it’ll never happen. Make it happen.

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Download your free template – it’s editable, so you can fill it in on your computer, or you can print a copy.

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Do you have any tips for business owners on how to build a support network?

Find people who are on a similar journey to you so that you can share experiences and work through challenges together.

People who understand your lifestyle and needs are especially helpful – if you have kids that you need to get to school first thing in the morning, you’re going to quickly get irritated by people recommending meditating for an hour before breakfast.

Connect with people that get you and will support you, and also people that will share openly and honestly. There are loads of great groups you can join, including ours at Watch This Sp_ce.

Watch This Sp_ce will be speaking at our Empowering Women in Business webinar on 17 March. We’re also running an exclusive competition for one female entrepreneur to win a mentorship with Baroness Karren Brady CBE. Find out more.

Have you got an inspiring story about running your business that you want to share? Let us know in the comments.

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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