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female entrepreneurs

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Still hiding: Female introverts avoiding self promotion

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There's still a long way to go for women and self promotion

It seems the more I talk about this subject the more people resonate with it. Women are telling me that self promotion is the biggest thing that is holding them back.

And when I talk about self promotion I am not only referring to sales. I am talking about selling yourself. Speaking up and telling others how great you are. Asking for more. Sharing your ideas and opinions with confidence. Using your voice. Being heard.

It would seem that even when women are confident and successful at what they do, there is still an aspect of holding back from sharing that. They just get on with the day job, and hope that those they have impacted and worked with will tell others. And this is a great way of marketing, but it’s not the only way.

I sell confidence.

It is my thing and I love to help women feel more confident and believe in themselves. I not only have to show what I’ve got, and how I do that, but I also have to be confident too. Lead by example. But that doesn’t mean I can’t talk about the times when I am not. I am authentic and what you see is most definitely what you get.

I am not someone that becomes a different person when I walk on stage or has a new persona when I do a facebook live. I am actually quite proud of the fact that when I meet people in ‘real life’ they actually say ‘wow you are just the same’. And that’s because integrity is so important to me. Being who you say you are. Doing what you say you do. I can’t be anyone but me and I think this is the starting place for all women when it comes to self promotion.

You are selling you.

And that is the tough bit for a lot of people, especially introverts who I specialise in working with as they often want to avoid the spotlight or putting themselves in the middle of a massive noisy networking event full of small talk and people they would run a mile from, never mind work with.

A recent study by Lindeman, Durik & Dooley (2019) confirmed what we all think and that’s women worry too much about what others think of them. They go into more detail around stereotypes and the impact of what women want to do, in comparison of what they ‘should’ do, resulting in cognitive dissonance so they don’t promote themselves at all, but it comes down to that dualism - it is almost like we want to stand out, whilst wanting to fit in.

So where does that leave women who need to promote themselves?

The obvious answer is to forget what people think about you - but it isn’t as easy as that as this forms part of the belief system you hold about yourself created over your entire lifetime. So what is needed is to look at that cognitive dissonance between wanting to stand out and also belong, unpick those beliefs and start to form new ones in order to actively enjoy promoting yourself with the knowledge that it can only help others when you do. That it’s not all about you.

Then we have other obstacles that creep in like imposter syndrome and self doubts which can be tackled in the same way. In other words; self awareness is key to growth. Learn three proven strategies to be more confident with self promotion which I know has already helped so many women get started and feel good about it.

Promotion is serious business

If no one knows what you do then no one will buy - it is that simple. But you don’t have to do what everyone is doing and I think that in itself often puts women off too. Yet we are led to believe the opposite to be true; and whilst watching others we think we have to be like them to be heard or stand out. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Isn’t it time we started testing our own theories, experimenting and seeing what works for us? But to do that you have to start talking about YOU.

International Women’s Day

We are celebrating International Women’s day and celebrating ALL women around the world, there are still areas that need to be addressed. Not only equality in general, the gender pay gap, sexual exploitation, but also how we view ourselves. Where do we as individual women fit into this big picture on a day to day basis.

I know so may women who don’t know how amazing they are. They just don’t see what I see. And that’s why I love to be able to open their eyes and unlock all their power and potential. Women need to see the positives in promoting themselves in an authentic way that feels good to them. It doesn’t have to be the way ‘promotion’ has always been or always been seen - but can be fun and meaningful for everyone.

The more women can look inside themselves and make those changes they need to make to step up and speak out - then the more other women will be inspired to do the same.

This is the most important step as a female leader in your industry; to stand out amongst the noise at a time when the internet seems to be exploding with everyone doing the same thing.

You are not the same - you are unique - now go show them that.

** Gemma Stow works with female leaders who are introverts and are ready to take themselves and their business to the next level.  To find what is getting in the way of putting themselves forward, self promotion and creates a space for them to explore who they really are and who they want to become.  As well as  private coaching using high level techniques including CBT, NLP and MI , she runs Introverts Talk Biz events where women come together to share ideas, struggles and make plans. More info on the next one HERE. Or book in a chat with Gemma if you are looking to increase your confidence so that you can do the things you keep telling yourself you can’t do **

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You don't need to be extroverted to be successful or happier

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Articles and opinions telling me how I should be more extroverted to be successful in business frustrate me.

There are so many and even the ones that are supposed to be championing us introverts are still using the same old descriptors, shy, quiet, anti social……for the love of god please hear me when I say - Introverts are phenomenal, can be loud, ambitious, strong and love meeting people. Ok so we might have to hibernate for a day or two after doing all that but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to! I am not quiet but I LOVE quiet.

Introverts are amazing business owners and amazing people!

Research seems to be finally figuring it out that we don’t have to be more extroverted to be happier - come on, you really think that’s news to us? Why would we to change who we are. Of course we want to learn new ways of doing things, but that doesn’t mean we want to be more extroverted. We like being who we are. I love that I can spend time alone and come up wth ideas and the answers to things I have been overthinking for days. I love that feeling after I have actually been to a networking event when I get home and kick off my shoes, put my pjs on and feel proud to have met some new interesting people and told them about what I am up to. I love challenging myself to do the things I think I can’t only to realise I can actually do them and if I can do this then nothing is out of my reach.

Please don’t let your introversion stop you doing anything if you want it that much. If you don’t and you are happy to chill out at home and stay in your comfort zone then that’s fine too. It’s all about what YOU want that matters and that might mean stepping up and out of that comfort zone!

Asking or expecting somebody to change what is fundamental about them like their personality, is never going to make anyone happier.

Now I am the biggest believe in change. I was a Probation officer for years and also worked with some very vulnerable and challenging young people so I know that believing in change is part of who I am. It is possible for everyone. But this is about change that is welcomed or craved. Saying things like ‘introverts will be more happier if they are more extroverted’ is like the craziest thing I have heard. I am happiest to be me. Yes I am happy to push and challenge myself because that’s part of my personality too! It has nothing to do with me being an introvert. Introversion is about energy and I get my energy from being alone it’s as simple as that.

There is a massive difference between changing WHO you are and challenging yourself to do things you THINK you can't. The things you actually WANT to do.

Introverts are great leaders.

Now someone recently said to me “No we are looking for strong dynamic and entrepreneurial types - not introverts!”. Oh really. Well check out some of the great leaders in the world to realise that this belief is just nonsense and so outdated. I consider myself to be all of these things and I bet you do too.

Working for yourself, building your own business and being ambitious will mean (regardless of personality) that you will have to push yourself to do things you haven't done before. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. But not everyone will or can be a leader and that is something you have to decide for yourself - are you ready to lead or follow?

It's not easy but it can be so worthwhile and not just have a massive impact on your business, but also massively boost your own confidence too. For instance I have supported women to step up and tell more people about how great they are at what they do and what they stand for, despite them feeling 'cringey', because we worked together to find a way that felt GOOD to them. You don’t have to do it the way ‘extroverts’ have done business over the years.

You have the chance to carve out your own path. Do that.

**Gemma Stow works with female leaders who are introverts and are ready to take themselves and their business to the next level.  To find what is getting in the way of putting themselves forward and creates a space for them to explore who they really are and who they want to become.  As well as high level private coaching, she runs Introverts Talk Biz events where women come together to share ideas, struggles and make plans. More info on the next one HERE. Or book in a chat with Gemma if you are looking to increase your confidence so that you can do the things you keep telling yourself you can’t do **

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Why you and your business are missing out by avoiding networking events!

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It is true – there is nothing that really compares to a live event. 

I have found this especially in business.  The powerful connections and life changing experiences have all started with events.  Getting to know others, being around likeminded people, having an understanding and similar purpose.

 

I hated events. 

Because it has not always been like that for me.  I hated events.  I hated networking events even more.

Why?  When we all know that building ‘know, like and trust’ is crucial to any business and by meeting people face to face can really speed up this process. 

Well I am a proud introvert and small talk and mingling with strangers and having to stand up and talk in front of them all within a specific time frame quite frankly does not float my boat.

So I used to avoid them – send my team to them – tell them it was for their own good to enhance their professional development and all that good stuff – when really I was hiding behind the fact that I couldn’t think of anything worse than attending these business events where you had to sell yourself – I mean that stuff is made for extroverts and egos right?

 

I bet I can give you five reasons why you avoid networking?

 

1.  Because you have to talk to strangers and make a good impression and introduce your business (and you still haven’t really got clear as clear can be on what it is you really do yet?)

 

2. Because it will mean taking time out of the day / evening that you could be spending working on the business (and let’s face it that’s the bit you love, that’s where the passion is at right?)

 

3.  You end up sat on your own (which you quite like) and smiling sheepishly at all those other delegates that have got it together and schmoozing the room like they own the god damn place looking at you with sympathetic feel sorry for you eyes.

 

4.  Why the hell would you pay for all of the above!

 

5.  You walk away without any new connections (because you only spoke to Michelle who you met last time because she works behind the bar), a goody bag full of business cards (your own included) and no further on with the results you are aiming for in your business.  No ROI (return on investment at all).

I understand I really do and don’t feel bad because we all feel like this at some point or another. 

 

Find events that are YOUR kind of events.

The trick is to find events that are your kind of events with your kind of people and this may involve attending a lot of 'frogs' to find the 'prince' of events that will give you new connections, access to new networks, referrals and recommendation opportunities.  

And that’s not because you spent the entire time selling yourself and being pushy – nope.  It is because you felt comfortable in the space to be able to help and support others in their business.  To give, not take.  That is the most important thing to remember.

 

You can be an introvert and actually get the most from business events.

You don't have to be the loudest in the room to be heard and you definitely don't have to be all about the sales to be remembered for who you are.  You have all you need already.  Listen to others, really listen and find people you are really interested in.  And ask them about their business.  And don't dread the "what do you do?" questions - go with it - someone else you get to show how passionate you are about what you do and why you do it!

 

I love nothing more than making real connections.

Well it is funny how times have changed, from hating such events, to now hosting my own. I also invest a lot in attending other's events too - ones that I know will be full of my kind of people and they always pay off.

Mine are not ordinary traditional events, but the type that are perfect for introverts like you to make real connections.  To get the most out of the investment you are putting into going in the first place – after all pjs and Netflix or a glass of vino with a good friend is also very appealing.

 

But networking (which in basic terms only really means interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts) is the cornerstone of business. 

It is so important in so many ways.  Not only for getting new customers and putting your business on the map, but also for your own support and developing relationships with people who get it and understand how tough it can be to work for yourself.

So if you are now a little convinced that actually venturing outside and attending an event or two might be something that you should think about to grow your business and your confidence then grab my free guide to get you started on the right path.   It has 5 simple steps to prepare you for your networking fun, will build your confidence and give you purpose.  Let me know how you get on!

Maybe my monthly event "Introverts Talk Biz" could be the perfect place to start - more info on the next event is here.   Time to get yourself out there and give your business the chance it deserves!

 

 

**Gemma Stow works with female entrepreneurs who are introverts and are ready to take themselves and their business to the next level.  To find their fierce and take that all important action.  As well as private coaching, she runs monthly events where Introverts Talk Business and a membership called Club Fierce that gives that personal touch to women who are looking for support, accountability and an environment that breeds self belief and results.  More info HERE. **

 

 

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But introverts don't do business do they?

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This was actually said to me today whilst I was chatting to somebody about being featured in the Yorkshire Post about my new face to face events for female introverts in business. 

 

"But introverts don't do business do they, aren't they too quiet?"

Wow.  I was pretty stunned as this came from a business owner I respect, but who obviously didn't have a clue about what introversion even means.  The next comment was indeed "so can men be introverted?'.  Oh dear.

 

It feels like there is a long way to go to educate people on what introversion actually is all about.  

The day before I was told that introverts are the worst listeners because they are too busy listening to themselves.  WTF.  Listening is my superpower and is what makes me a great coach to hear others on a different level, and not only hear the words, but also hear what lies beneath them as well.  It takes the concept of listening to another level.

But as I push forward on my mission to prove female introverts need to stop hiding because they have more than enough to be amazing at making real differences to others lives, I will definitely be up against more misconceptions for sure!  I mean I get told time and time again that I can't be an introvert because of my presence on social media.  Say what?

 

So I wanted to start by saying that introverts do business and do it really well. 

And if you still need convincing you only need to look at the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and what about the ladies... Rosa Parks, JK Rowling, Emma Watson and Marissa Mayer.

It is also important to understand why you should get to know your own personality traits and how empowering that can be.  Lots of people tell me not to label as they are not useful.  I have spent most of my career trying my best not to label others and put them into boxes - however something happens when your own level of self awareness increases - you get your power back.

You start to recognise your strengths and skills that you just took for granted because you've always had them, they are a part of you. 

And actually these should be explored, developed and celebrated.  

 

I am not naive to think there isn't a darker side. 

Getting to know yourself means you could fall into the trap of using your introverted personality as an excuse not to do all the things that feel uncomfortable to you or zap all of your energy.  When actually to build your business you need to consider how you will make it work for you.  After all business is about identifying the things you think you can't and doing them anyway.

I know this from first hand experience of pushing my team to do the things I didn't want to do.  Things like selling, presenting, networking, making new connections, making phone calls, pitching, promoting and all that stuff, you get the picture. 

 

But I learnt quite quickly that nobody can sell my business like I can. 

I have the passion and that can't be replicated.  And you can't be either.

For too long business has been focused on the more extrovert personalities - and we have all been led to believe that this is what makes a business successful and that we have to be more 'extroverted' to win.  So much so, that it often puts off introverts from starting a business in the first place.

 

These are outdated, misleading conclusions derived from personality tests produced decades ago. 

I have experienced that the opposite is quite often more of a truer picture.  That introverts can use their super powers to be amazing at selling, presenting and promoting themselves and their business.  To avoid the fluffy crap that is often associated with pushy or cheesy sales, or drawn out boring presentations, and actually make real business connections in networking that will go somewhere.

So the next time you hear that introverts are too quiet or shy to be good at business, or even if you are telling yourself that - please remind them (and you) that in your face, intense energy, loud voices, small talk and big ego's don't always win the race. 

You have all you need to start and that's the most important part.

 

Never underestimate the power of an introvert's silence. 

It doesn't indicate nothing is happening.  It indicates everything is happening. 

And you can't even see it, yet.

 

 

**Gemma Stow works with female entrepreneurs who are introverts and are ready to take themselves and their business to the next level.  To find their fierce and take that all important action.  As well as private coaching, she runs a membership called Club Fierce that gives that personal touch to women who are looking for support, accountability and an environment that breeds self belief and results.  More info HERE. **

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How post natal depression made me a savvy business woman.

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10 years ago everything changed.   July 2008.

Not only did I become a mum for the first time, but ironically I also lost who I was. 

It was the first time I didn’t believe I could do something that I ‘should’ have been able to do naturally. 

I felt like a failure. The biggest failure of all time. Alone. Just me.  I realised I was carrying around the feeling for years that if I can fail at being a mum,  I’ll probably fail at everything else.  This realisation was the game changer for me and my businesses.

 

Post natal depression is hard to describe.

That feeling of hopelessness. That nothing I could do would ever be good enough. The anxiety and worry every minute of every day. The huge responsibility that was often too heavy to bare.  The dark cloud that followed me around. The fog. 

But looking back it also had a profound affect on me. It made me reassess what I really wanted. What makes me tick. And not what I thought I ‘should’ be under the pressures of society. 

 

It taught me to listen to my instincts.

That when I listen, really listen, they are super specific and usually spot on.

They know. I know. What’s really best. 

Accepting that working and making a difference to other people’s lives is in my blood. I needed it like I needed the air I breath. 

Not because it was satisfying some empty void, but because it was a sense of purpose. A determined purpose to make things happen. To create change. To unlock potential. A purpose I’ve felt deep inside since I was a little girl. Knowing I needed to aim high no matter what. To do the things that can’t be done. 

Because of this I didn’t think I could be a good mum. Because I didn’t crave to be with my children every minute of every day and I wanted to work instead. That feeling this way was bad. That I was bad. 

 

But I proved myself wrong.

By listening to what I needed, I could be EVERYTHING to my gorgeous baby girl. 

I see her today. Strong willed. Fiercely independent. Oozing confidence. A sense of belief in herself that she is capable of anything she sets her mind too.  And she is. 

 

I see me. The real me. 

The me that was once crushed by this sense of having to do the ‘right thing’ whatever that was. That I wasn't good enough if I didn't do what was expected of me - to stay at home and care for my children for all of the hours in the day.  The pressure and guilt associated with choosing to go to work instead.  I say choosing because I was.  I wanted to build a business from scratch and I knew that would take up a lot of energy and time.  Time away from my family.

 

Do I regret working so early on when she was little?  No. 

Do I regret not spending more time at home in the early days?  No. 

Do I think she’s lost out because of the decisions I’ve made?  No. 

 

Because I know that I had to find me before I could be the best mum to her and her brother. They are my world.

When I look at them. I mean really look at them. My heart stops and they sum up the sense of purpose. 

To not only teach them, but show them everyday that they too can do the things they may think they can’t. That they can be, do and have whatever they want. 

 

I couldn’t have planned or predicted the last ten years and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m more of the woman I had hoped I’d be. An inspiration to others.  Doing things that scare me. Making a difference. Taking risks. Trying things that others wouldn’t try. And things they didn’t want me to try either. Being the change I wish to see in the world. 

 

Am I still scared? Of course. 

Because if nothing else the last ten years have shown me that curveballs are around every corner. Waiting to test you.  Waiting to teach you.  A look. A comment. A loss. 

Those feelings still show up. But I spot them coming now.  I know them really well because I decided to get up close to them. To see them for what they are. 

 

Every experience we go through defines us.

The good, the bad and the ugly. Look for the lessons and embrace it by believing in yourself and how much you are truly capable of getting whatever you really want. 

 

 

**Gemma Stow works with female entrepreneurs who are introverts and are ready to take themselves and their business to the next level.  To find their fierce and take that all important action.  As well as private coaching, she runs a membership called Club Fierce that gives that personal touch to women who are looking for support, accountability and an environment that breeds self belief and results.  More info HERE. **

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Should I start my own business?

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It is probably one of the biggest questions you could ask yourself  'Should I start my own business?' because it truly can be life changing.

You start to have that type of niggiling feeling.  Seeing others you know who are taking the leap to quit their jobs and start to work for themselves.  From what you know and have heard it is hard work but in return you get freedom and flexibility to work when and where you want.  To decide your own working hours. 

But on the other side, the dark side, you have been told that it takes over your life.  That to have any kind of success you have to live and breathe your business, you have to sacrifice the things you love the most such as time with your family and work double the amount of hours you would in your full time employment.

And there's the perks you leave behind - the paid holidays, sick days, guaranteed salary, stability and financial security.

Now this last part really gets me going.  That as business owners we are not seen to have a secure income, yet if you work for someone else you are.  That person you work for also needs to make sure they pay your wages and their own.  So actually having more control over what you can potentially earn, seems to me to be more secure than working for someone else when you think about it?

But how do you know if it's the right time to start a business?

The first thing to do is to find out what you are really passionate about, because without passion it is really hard to keep your motivation high on those days when it can be really tough.

The four questions you can ask yourself are:

  • "Why do I want to work for myself?".  Explore your values around this and what is your key driving force?  Family, flexibility, potential to earn more income, freedom to work in different places, make a difference and an impact on others..... what is your driver?

 

  • "What am I really passionate about?".  What are the things you could talk all night about and not get bored (you might bore others but who cares because you love it).

 

  • "What are my strengths, skills and experience that I can bring to a business?".  Think about what work you have done really well before.  What do you love about work and how can your skills help you with a business opportunity?

 

  • "What problem can I help to solve?".  What problem can you see in the area that you are passionate about, a gap in the market, or feel you can do something way better than it's being done now - explore that further.

 

When you have answers to these four things then you know you are on your way to creating something amazing.  This is when the "What if's" will kick in and that fear of failure.  What if it all goes wrong, what if is a complete flop and I don't have what it takes.

 

Having confidence and self belief is the cornerstone to a successful business. 

Yes it's important to get your branding, marketing and positioning right - but these things aren't to be used as excuses for not getting yourself out there and just starting.  Telling people about your plans , sharing your excitement and making new connections is the best way to get your business off to a flying start - the other stuff will then fall into place so don't hide behind the fact that you don't have a webiste yet.

Don't waste a shed load of time, money and energy on all of this stuff when you are still figuring it all out.  Trust me once you start you will grow and evolve and so will your business.  Even business names change, so make it easy on yourself and don't feel immense pressure to get everything perfect - it doesn't exist and you will get yourself in a right tizz worrying about that!

Don't let the start stop you - you can do this and will realise that, just as soon as you decide to go for it!

Gx

 

**Gemma Stow works with female entrepreneurs who are introverts and are ready to take themselves and their business to the next level.  To find their fierce and take that all important action.  As well as private coaching, she runs a membership called Club Fierce that gives that personal touch to women who are looking for support, accountability and an environment that breeds self belief and results.  More info HERE. **

 

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What stops you being visible online?

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Being visible online can be scary.   But if you run your own business then it really can help to boost your know, like and trust factor with potential customers and therefore increase profits!

If you have been putting off getting yourself and your business out there then it is time to find your fierce and increase your visibility today!

It is pretty normal to feel scared.  Scared to put yourself out there online for your business to reach your customers.  I was scared too.

As we grow and learn there are always new parts of our lives that demand a different version of us and this can in itself bring more challenges and self doubts.

It was July 2015 that I posted my very first blog online.  I had no idea what I was doing.  But I did it anyway, and guess what.. I didn’t tell anyone.

It was online, yes - but it took me about 3 months to actually share it and then I hid behind another name.

I hid behind the name 'Fiercemum' and nobody, apart for my nearest and dearest knew about it - that was the start of something special - but only because I decided it would be.  

As a introvert this was a very difficult thing for me to do.  I like being behind the scenes and letting others take the limelight...but I knew that this time I had to do things differently.  I had to dig deep to find the confidence and strength to push those doubts I had about myself to one side, so I could step out of the shadows and help others to do the same - to be fierce in all areas of their lives. 

You know those doubts – ones like …

“I am not good enough”

“Who am I to think I can do this”

“What will others think of me”

“I don’t know enough and don’t have what it takes”

And it is not easy to silence those doubts – but with courage and paying attention to yourself and those thoughts, it can be done.

 

I have and it feels great.  I now have a great online business which means I can work from anywhere - which is all I have ever wanted; freedom and flexibility to do what I want, when I want, so that it suits my family and me.  And with my business means I get to work with ambitious women who also want the same thing too!  To make a difference and make money.

It all came from showing up.  From getting the 'ladyballs' to do what I believed in.  To be persistent even when I thought there was no point.  To get visible and show others what I stand for and what I can do to help them too.

I kept going. 

Because when you start the visibility dance you keep dancing and don’t stop.

Stopping means checking out what others are doing, or worrying about who is watching and not dancing with you, overthinking your own dance moves, instead of just enjoying your time on the dance floor and making YOUR dance up as you go.

Well you can have this too.

This is what I am all about - empowering women who work for themselves (or want to) to feel fierce about who they are and what they stand for and to have the confidence to go shout about it.  Not for them but for those people they want to reach.

 

So if this is what you want them connect with me over in my free group The F Movement for female entrepreneurs or book in a call with me today and let's chat about what you need that will make the difference between no one knowing about you and your business, to all those potential customers who want to get to know you better!

Just think how AWESOME it'll be when you can stop feeling overwhelmed, confused and hiding - to be super clear, confident and excited about taking that all important fierce action and being seen for who you really are!

No more hiding – much more dancing!

Gx

 

**Gemma Stow works with female entrepreneurs who are ready to take themselves and their business to the next level.  To find their fierce and take that all important action.  As well as private coaching, she runs a membership called Club Fierce that gives that personal touch to women who are looking for support, accountability and an environment that breeds self belief.  More info HERE. **

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