Some people are born marketers—and Claire Mitchell is one of them. “I’ve marketed everything from aircraft paint to floor sealant, caravans to engineering courses,” she admits. But now, Claire has turned her natural talent for marketing and business into a thriving online business and network for female entrepreneurs, The Girls Mean Business.
“I help women get the skills and confidence they need to build a business,” explains Claire. “I cover everything from marketing, social media, sales, pricing, targets, even productivity and time management.” But while today The Girls Mean Business has over 4,000 online students and a network of over 88,000 business owners, life was quite different 5 years ago.
Previously, Claire had grown a successful employee engagement consultancy and had even set up a marketing agency to support her thriving business and others like it. But when a major client went into administration owing Claire’s company thousands of pounds, her business simply couldn’t absorb the impact. Claire was bruised but resilient. “I picked myself up and started a new business,” she says. “I couldn’t quite bring myself to face my old contacts at that point, but I missed networking. So I set up a Facebook page called The Girls Mean Business so I could network with other women like me.”
It was here that Claire’s natural flair for marketing and teaching came into their own. She shared marketing tips, inspirational stories and lessons from her own experiences and before long, people were asking for more. And it turned out that she had plenty of wisdom to offer her fast-growing community; in time Claire started to develop free resources and even paid online courses, based on what she knew. “I shared anything that I thought would take the fear and confusion out of starting and running a small business. I know that most business owners – especially working mums like me – have a lot to contend with.”
Having grown The Girls Mean Business from a Facebook page, Claire continues to rely on the platform to help her connect with other female entrepreneurs in new ways. “I use Facebook Live to run clinics for my students and I run various Facebook groups that mean my business owners never need to feel alone—that’s hugely important,” she stresses. It’s perhaps surprising, then, to learn that at the beginning, Claire knew nothing about social media. “I had to learn Facebook really quickly. But because of the exposure it gave me, I ended up creating online products. And I am not a techie.”
It was the need to get to grips with technology that resulted in an ‘all or nothing’ moment for Claire. “I used my last bit of money to pay to learn how to create online programmes and gave myself 6 weeks to turn things around,” she recalls. Then followed a huge learning curve. “I had to learn everything and times it felt beyond my capabilities, but I had to make this work.” When Claire finally launched her first online programme, she sold 4 in the first week, far exceeding her initial expectations.
Since then, Claire has gone on to create a suite of popular online products and has just launched a hugely successful marketing planner system that has sold almost 2,500 units. But simply making a great living isn’t what drives Claire any more. “Earlier on, I was driven by the desire to not worry about money but ultimately, flashy cars and houses abroad aren’t really my thing. It’s all about the lifestyle and helping other women achieve the life they want.”
Empowerment has become Claire’s raison d’être. “I see women starting to believe in themselves,” she says of her proudest moments. “Now I have a goal to help one million women around the world build their business. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m chipping away at that figure every single day.”
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