This month, we’re excited to introduce you to Lara Sheldrake – a speaker, mentor and the founder of Found & Flourish, an online membership, media and events platform for women in business. She is on a mission to make business accessible and less lonely for entrepreneurial women. After having her son and struggling with feelings of isolation she decided to create the safe and nurturing space she craved when she was embarking on this new journey of motherhood and entrepreneurship. Through the power of community and collaboration, Found & Flourish empowers women to upskill, connect and truly flourish.
Q1: Lara, tell us a little bit more about yourself and what do you do?
I’m the founder of Found & Flourish a network, media and events platform for freelancers, business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. We exist to provide community and resources to support founders on their entrepreneurial journey. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate the feeling of loneliness and for each and every member to achieve impact, profit and joy.
Q2: What did the early days of your business look like? How did you start?
It was hard work, I spent the first year solely focused on building the community through our newsletter and IRL events. I would travel into London at least four times a month to host events and in the earlier months, I’d have my baby in tow so I could breastfeed him in between hosting events and talks. I loved what I did and knew it was worth it but I found the early days incredibly challenging. It’s nice to be able to look back now and see how far I and the business have come.
Q3: If you could share a piece of advice with your younger-self when you were just starting – what would you tell her?
I’d say to let go of any concerns of what other people think because as long as you’re doing something you genuinely believe in and enjoy, that’s all that matters. I’ve learned that, as cliche as it sounds, it’s all about the journey rather than the destination so to really enjoy the process is key, otherwise what’s it all for?
Q4: What advice are you glad you didn’t follow? And why?
“Maybe you should leave the business for now and focus on motherhood” When you become a mum the guilt is REAL. That said, I don’t think just because you have become a mum you should give up on your dreams. It’s hard but it’s possible.
Q5. What have been your biggest business lessons so far?
To trust your gut and follow your heart. It’s the drive you have within that will carry you through the darkest days of entrepreneurship.
The more open and direct you are in your messaging, the more targeted your leads will become.
Q6: What is the motivation behind your business? What keeps you going?
The women! Seeing our members connect, support and collaborate with one another. This is what it’s all about. Only 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs is female: that’s a gender gap equivalent to 1.1 million missing businesses. [Source:The Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship] We want to help close this gap by providing women with the resources and support they need to upskill, connect and truly flourish.
Also the feedback and incredible messages I get really do motivate me every single day. To see the impact F&F has on the lives of others is the best feeling in the world.
Q7. Tell us more about your process: what are your go-to tools in your business?
Our business is a subscription based model so we rely heavily on our wordpress website, mailchimp integration and canva (of course!).
I have invested a lot of money into refining our processes. We’ve hired a coder and worked with a business strategist to help us improve our onboarding process so that it’s automated and watertight, ensuring the best customer journey possible from start to finish. I cringe looking back at what it was like at the beginning and am so proud to see how far it has come in just a year.
Q8: What are some of your best productivity tips?
Leave your phone in another room when you’re working, take regular breaks and drink lots of water!
There is ALWAYS time to take a break!
Q9: When motivation/creativity is low – where do you seek it? What is your source of inspiration?
I go for a walk and listen to music. I find taking myself away from my usual work space allows my brain to filter out all the noise and it’s during the moments of calm and clarity that new and fresh ideas come to me. I also find that my best ideas come when I’m about to fall asleep – so I keep a pen and paper by my bed.
Q10: Tell us about a favourite moment in your business and why? What did it mean to you?
When I hosted my first Hugs & Brunch event and had the most incredible feedback, I think at that moment I knew this was something special.
Q11: Do you have any rituals/routines or habits in your business and day-to-day life?
I’ll be honest, they’ve all gone out the window this last year as I juggle a business, toddler and lockdown. That said, I don’t watch TV in the weeks and try to be in bed by 10. I LOVE reading business books but am trying to read less of those at night as I then find my brain is buzzing with ideas and it’s hard to sleep.
Q12: If you could encourage our readers to go and do one thing right now, what would it be?
Read the book “Company of One” by Paul Jarvis.
Follow Lara on social media:
More about Found & Flourish:
Found & Flourish is a network, media and events platform for entrepreneurial womxn. Their mission is to make all aspects of business accessible and less lonely for women blazing a trail in the start-up space. They provide invaluable connection, resources and inspiration through their online membership, events and Founders interviews. Their ultimate goal, through the power of community, is for women to feel empowered with the tools they need to build profitable and sustainable businesses whilst enjoying the process along the way. Find out more here.