Zoe Thompson is the founder of Refreshed Minds, a service devoted to helping the people behind business overcome obstacles like stress and reach their full potential. Created in 2011, Refreshed Minds provides one to one, group and online solutions helping business owners get the best from their greatest resource, their minds.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
It’s a challenge to run a business, and it’s one I enjoy, but while there are lots of ways to get business support, I always thought there wasn’t enough to help the human behind the business. Anyone with a small business, or just getting started, has a huge mountain to climb and a serious learning curve to deal with. I want to be the one cheering them on and showing them that they can do it. Mindset is hugely important in business, when you feel confident, strong and capable you can achieve amazing things. When you accomplish something that matches your value as a person it’s a huge high, and that’s the difference I wanted to make when I started my business.
What is your business motto?
My motto has always been to ‘Help the Human behind the Business’. In the simplest terms, a business is just a collection of people uniting behind a common goal, and to have you and your team motivated with a clear vision is the best path to success.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
There are a lot of challenges and obstacles that will come up as soon as you start a business, so you should have the basics all ready and decided before you take the plunge. You should start with your customer, not your product. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in making a product or service that you want, but doesn’t work for your customer. You’ve also got to plan for the long term, as having clearly defined goals to work towards is very important. Additionally, one thing I really recommend is having strategies to top up your determination and motivation. This will need constant nurturing and care, and you need to look after yourself in the long run.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
It was definitely having patience. Once I got started I wanted everything right away and it doesn’t quite work like that! Not getting to where you want, when you want to can be a real hit to your confidence. It’s taken me a long time to learn how to be patient and compassionate with myself, as you can’t always accurately predict when and how something will happen.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
For my work, the outcome is the best part of my job. Seeing a client smile again and hearing them talk about taking on the world, knowing that your work made that happen is an amazing feeling. Being self employed means working to your own demands and expectations, not those of somebody else. It makes it all worthwhile, and incredibly fulfilling and it’s hard to describe how amazing that feels.
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
I think loneliness can be a big factor in being self-employed. I’m certainly not alone, as I’m surrounded by a network of amazing people, but there’s a huge amount of pressure and responsibility with your own business and that all comes down to you. Because of that, I set up Break Free, Find Clarity and the Hypno Huddle. Bringing entrepreneurs together, providing a supportive space to learn and grow together can make an enormous difference to solopreneurs and small business owners. When they realise they’re not alone, what they’re experiencing is completely normal and they can work together to change it.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
It has to be Beatrix Potter. In the Victorian ages a woman’s role was very different and yet she followed her passion and became an author. Not only that, but she then used her wealth to support the foundations of the National Trust and protect the landscape for us all to enjoy. Nature is an important part of what I do (Reconnect With You is a workshop in the woods and the Refresh Shed was built in a garden) this is because nature settles and grounds you in so many ways. We’re so lucky in Yorkshire to be surrounded by beautiful countryside. I love business figures who aspire to be more than just a business person, those who use their opportunities to advocate change. They boldly brave their chances, buck the trend and follow their dreams. That path isn’t easy, but they take it anyway.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Taking the decision to leave my corporate job with O2 and set up Refreshed Minds. I’m proud of taking that leap of faith and all the work I’ve put into making it a success. Often, we focus all our attention on looking at all the work we’ve yet to do, or all the things we’ve yet to master. There’s so much value in looking back sometimes and saying, ‘wow, I did that’. Not only did I make the decision, but I stuck at it and I’ve come a very long way since then.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
I have big plans, as no doubt many entrepreneurs do. My passion is helping small business owners and I want to reach out and help even more. Self-doubt, confidence and self-esteem are at all time lows and stress and anxiety prevalent at epidemic levels. I want to play a fundamental part in helping small business owners to have the mindset to succeed through online resources, one to one support and group workshops. In five years time I want to have created a suite of resources that support small business owners through the real journey of owning a business. Ensuring they are equipped with the mindset tools that help them feel capable and confident to navigate the business experience ‘rollercoaster’. I want to show people that they can achieve amazing things while smiling along the way.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
The Realism Mirror. I will admit I’m a huge fan of Disney, which probably had an influence over my choice, but I’d love to invent a mirror which reflects true reality. We can’t see our own self, our heads are terrible at perceiving the worst, and all the things we don’t want or don’t want to happen which can have a massive impact on our decisions and hold us back. The realism mirror would be a fantastic way of showing the truth and easing your mind when you worry and fear. I’d love to invent that and show people what they’re capable of.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
Facebook perhaps: I’m also a techy geek and love how technology can help you reach out and connect with people. I’m not a huge fan of large corporate companies, I feel often they lack genuine care, but I like their passion for innovation and fun. I’m looking forward to what technology allows us to do in the future.