Carrie Green started her first online business, Easy Mobile Unlock, at the age of 20 whilst studying Law at the University of Birmingham. Within a few years she had taken it global, selling throughout the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and Europe and receiving over 100,000 hits on the website every month.
After feeling isolated running her business she wanted to connect with women who were going through or had gone through similar experiences. This led her in 2011 to start the Female Entrepreneur Association, which helps women interested in business to keep motivated and overcome challenges. It has thousands of members from all over the world.
Easyspace were delighted to interview Carrie:
Q1. Carrie, you graduated from university with a Law degree. Please tell us a little bit about your background and what led to you to becoming an entrepreneur instead of a lawyer.
I started my first business, a mobile phone unlocking company, in the summer of 2005 in between my first and second year of studying Law at the University of Birmingham. I’d used up my student loan from my first year and needed to find a way to make some money – I had a look around for jobs, but found nothing I liked and then I spotted an opportunity to start an online mobile phone unlocking business. I knew nothing about mobile phone unlocking and nothing about starting a business, but I thought it would be fun and I had nothing to lose.
I really had no clue about getting started, so my only option was to ask for help! Within a few weeks I’d created a website (which was awful, but got me started) and I set up a Google Adwords account to drive traffic to my site and with a credit card and a spending limit of £30 per day my business was officially up and running. When I wasn’t in lectures I was learning how to grow the business – reading books, listening to audio programmes, going to night school. By the time I graduated, the business was going really well! I was confused about whether or not to carrying on with Law, so I got some work experience at Warner Bros. working in with their in-house legal team. It was an amazing experience, but I loved building my own business. I loved the freedom of it, I loved coming up with my own ideas and turning them into a reality, so I decided to cancel my place to do the Law Practitioners Course and I set my sights on taking my business global.
Q2. Why did you setup the Female Entrepreneur Association?
I set the Female Entrepreneur Association up in 2011 because I felt isolated running my online business. I used to work day in day out from the office in my apartment and ultimately it became lonely. When times were challenging I felt like I was going through it alone, none of my friends understood my problems, but I knew there must be lots of like-minded women out there and I wanted to find them.
Another big reason why I set it up was because I’d started to feel really unfulfilled running the mobile phone unlocking company. I read the E-myth by Michael Gerber and in it he says imagine walking into a room, sat down in the room are your friends and family. As you begin to walk towards the front of the room you see a box, and as you get closer you realise that you’re in the box – it’s your funeral. He asks, “what kind of things would you want people to be saying about the kind of life you lived, about the kind of person you were, about the kind of things you achieved?” It made me realise that I didn’t want to be known as the person that ran a mobile phone unlocking company!!! Yes it provided me with financial freedom and it was a great experience, but mobile phone unlocking was not my dream or my passion. I realised that I wanted to do something that made a difference, something that was about helping others.
So in 2011 I launched the Female Entrepreneur Association, an online platform where women from around the world can share their stories, experiences and advice about building their business in the hope that it inspires and empowers other women. We also publish a free, digital magazine once a month called This Girl Means Business, which features how-tos, interviews, inspiration and strategies for building a successful business.
Q3. What was involved in setting up your website?
I built the website myself using WordPress. It’s so easy and you can find so many amazing themes from places like themeforest.net! Choosing a name was tough – to be honest there’s been about 4 different names! I think that sometimes people put their business idea on hold because they don’t know what the best name for their business is. I honestly think the best thing is to get started – you can always change it later on.
Whenever I can’t do something on my website I just google it or watch videos on YouTube and normally I figure it out – if I can’t then I use elance.com to find a developer who can help me.
Q4. Of all the female entrepreneurs you have met & interviewed – who is your favourite & why?
Lara Morgan, the founder of Company Shortcuts. She started her first business at the age of 23 and then sold her majority share 17 years later for £20 million. In interviews she’s so open and honest about how she managed to do it, which is refreshing. She’s down to earth and inspires people to believe that if she can build a successful business then anyone can.
Q5. How did you market your Female Entrepreneur Association website/magazine when you first started and how do you promote it now?
At the beginning I spent a lot of time networking offline and raising awareness of it through meeting people at events and then I started leveraging the power of LinkedIn. I set up a group on LinkedIn for female entrepreneurs and then invited all the women I’d networked with to join it. I also joined other groups for female entrepreneurs and posted out messages asking if anyone wanted to share their story on the website. I was inundated with stories! I also set up google alerts for the keyword ‘female entrepreneur’ and when relevant articles popped up I would get in touch with the journalist (sometimes I had to guess their email address!) and share my thoughts. That led to me being featured in newspapers like the Telegraph.
Nowadays I do a lot of marketing on Facebook – I have over 52,000 fans and it’s an amazing platform for engaging with people who are interested in what I’m doing. I also network like crazy offline and online – I’m very clear about the people I want to meet (people who I’d love to ask advice from and people who I’d love to do business with) and I make it my mission to get to know them. I think the key with this is to do something for others unconditionally. Be prepared to give and ask for nothing in return in order to build your relationships with people. Think about how you can help others, before thinking about how to help yourself. I truly believe in the Law of Reciprocity.
Q6. How do you create the magazine – what’s involved in producing the final product?
I publish the magazine every month, so my main focus is finding good content, amazing people to interview and companies that would like to advertise and reach thousands of women.
Once I have the content ready for an issue I send it on to my designer, who then creates the layout and makes it all look good. Once it’s all ready to go, it’s uploaded to Issuu and from there I embed it on my website and then share it with my network (email and social media).
Q7. How do you make money from your website / online magazine?
At the moment we generate revenue through sponsorship, advertisement and masterclasses.
Q8. You include on your website YouTube videos. Why did you do this and how do you create them i.e. editing software, equipment, lighting, scripting, etc? Any advice on how businesses can use video to promote themselves?
I’ve found that making videos is a brilliant way to engage and build trust with my network. It makes it all more personal when you can see someone talking about something. I publish a new video each week – they’re generally a 5-10 minute how-to video. I share things that have really helped me throughout my business journey – from how to handle isolation, to strategies for getting more out of your time.
When I first started creating them I used my laptop to film and I didn’t write a script – I just went with the flow. As things developed I learnt more about creating videos and invested in some good equipment – a good camera, a tripod, lighting (this makes so much difference!) and I script all my videos.
I think video is such a great way to connect with your audience – video has much more of an impact and there are so many ways you could use video… how-to videos, demonstrations, answering popular FAQs… I could go on!
Q9. How do you use Facebook and other social media e.g. Twitter, to promote your website/magazine? How successful has it been for you?
Social media has been unbelievably effective for me. Facebook alone drives thousands and thousands of visitors to my website every day and enables me to reach out to people in such a powerful way. At the moment I have been focusing on developing my fan page, because it’s been so effective, I try and post out at least 3 times a day if not more. I’ve managed to build a following of over 52,000 fans within about a year and I can tell you for sure that it was worth the effort.
Q10. If you had the chance to start Female Entrepreneur Association all over again, what would you do differently?
I’m not sure I would do anything differently. It’s been an amazing journey and I’ve learnt so much and I think everything has happened in the right way, at the right time.
Q11. Which entrepreneur/person has inspired you the most & why?
My dad. He built a company when I was child, which was incredibly successful and I’ve learnt so much from him. He’s always taught me that anything is possible and encouraged me to be the best I can be. When I was little my parents put a picture on my wall of a soaring eagle and underneath the words read, “your attitude determines your altitude in life”. Since I was a teenager my dad has been buying me business books and personal development books, like Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I feel privileged to have such amazing parents who have always believed in me and encouraged me.
Q12. What’s it like managing your business? Do you have any staff or do you outsource tasks? Describe your typical day.
I mainly outsource tasks as I like knowing that I can work from anywhere that has an internet connection – something I wouldn’t be able to do if I worked from an office and employed people.
A typical day includes writing content or organising content for the website and magazine. Share content on social media – although I do like to schedule posts in advance. I travel to London almost every week for meetings and I spend quite a lot of time chatting on Skype with people in the States – making time to build great relationships and expand my network has been so important. I also spend a lot of time marketing – whether it’s creating a campaign for a new masterclass or maybe the launch of a new guide.
Q13. What advice would you give to somebody thinking of starting their own business?
Dream big! Don’t let your doubts and worries hold you back. You only get one life, so go for it.
Get really clear about what you want to achieve. Write it down, set a deadline and create a plan.
Take action! Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is a habit not an act.” you have to discipline yourself to take action and to do the things you have to do in order to reach your goals.
Never give up on yourself. Building a business is not going to be a walk in the park, there will probably be times when you feel confused, times when you haven’t got a clue and times when you feel like it’s hopeless. But you’ve got to remember that the ones who make are the ones who hang on when everyone else has let go.
Q14. What are your future plans for Female Entrepreneur Association?
To build the best online support platform for female entrepreneurs all over the world. I want to help inspire and empower women to believe in themselves, to believe that they can turn their ideas into a successful reality and to give them the support they need to do it.
Thanks Carrie, from everyone at Easyspace.
To find out more about Carrie and her business please visit her website www.FemaleEntrepreneurAssociation.com