Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, running a business can sometimes be a lonely experience. But it honestly doesn’t have to be! Building connections and collaborating with others is an integral part of any successful business. Oh, and it’s also SUPER fun!
Danielle Wiebe is the founder and visionary behind the hugely-popular Business Babes Collective, a community which aims to connect women in business with one another and build meaningful relationships.
We spoke to Danielle about the early days of Business Babes Collective, how to find your niche, the importance of building a personal brand, how to successfully network and much more. You don’t want to miss this one, friends!
What is Business Babes Collective?
Business Babes Collective is a community for female entrepreneurs. We host events, online workshops and other programs, with the aim of educating and inspiring women in business. We also help them grow and scale their businesses, as well as connect and collaborate with other women. We strongly believe collaborating with other people will help you grow your business much faster!
What were the early days of Business Babes Collective like?
The first few months of Business Babes Collective were definitely crazy! I started it while I was still working full time for my mom’s business. I was really busy and I remember feeling kind of alone on the journey. My idea for the Business Babes Collective came about so that I could help connect other women, because I didn’t really have anyone else when I was starting out.
In the beginning it was really difficult because it was a brand new idea, nobody knew who I was or what the community was going to be like. So starting from the ground was tough. I just began building relationships and asking people out for coffee to talk about my vision.
Some people got it and were excited about it and others couldn’t really see it. When you’re starting from scratch, people don’t really take you seriously until you have something to show. So the beginning stages were tricky. But the best thing I did was just not give up!
Did you always know you wanted it to be events?
It started as pop-up networking events, then panel events with speakers. Eventually, it grew into what it is now, which is a combination of events and online programs. We have workshops, our Action Takers Club (which is a business program) and online masterminds.
Do you remember what your first event was like?
Yes! I held my very first event before Business Babes Collective was officially branded as anything. This was back in 2015. It was a very small and intimate event, like 10 people! The whole idea was just to get people together.
I brought wine and another girl I collaborated with owned a catering company, so she brought a charcuterie board and then we just came together and networked! It kinda snowballed from there. I kept hosting more of these pop up events and then in January of 2015, I officially branded it as Vancity Business Babes, which was our first chapter of the Business Babes Collective.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
That’s tough because I feel like I learned a lot from the beginning stages! If I had known then what the business would turn into today, especially having chapters in other cities, I probably would have branded it as Business Babes Collective right from the beginning. The overarching branding for Business Babes Collective happened two years in, after we started getting interest from outside Vancouver.
How did you end up expanding to the other cities?
For the San Diego chapter, I initially pitched a friend there to help her create events and coached her along in the process. A lot of the people who opened up the chapters in other cities originally came to an event in Vancouver, then moved back to their home cities and decided they wanted to bring Business Babes Collective to their own communities. It’s been so cool to see how it’s grown!
Nancy and Sydnee joined 2 years ago in 2017. I originally only set out to hire one person, actually! I did a bunch of interviews and both of the girls had different skill sets I thought I needed, so I decided to hire them both part time.
It’s been really great, because it’s allowed me to focus more on things like our mastermind and Action Takers Club programs, while they work on the events. I also have time to help other chapter leaders run their events. Having a team has helped us so much. It definitely would have been difficult to launch the online programs without them!
What is it like being a boss? What leadership advice do you have for new and aspiring entrepreneurs?
I’ve really enjoyed it but it was definitely a huge learning curve! My advice is to be open and honest with the people you work with and don’t hide anything from them. Allow them to be part of the growth of the business, regardless of whether things are going well or not.
It’s so important to be transparent, especially if you’re a small business and have a small team. I’m still learning everyday about leadership and how to be a good boss. Our team and I are also friends, which is awesome!
But it’s challenging too, because sometimes we have to have difficult conversations. The key is to find that balance and to invite your team into the conversation, especially because they may have good ideas that you hadn’t thought of.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs and content creators struggle with finding a niche. What advice do you have for discovering your niche and target audience?
When I started, I wanted to be all things to all people, which is how all of us start out! We tend to worry that if we niche down too much, we won’t attract any clients. I know finding a niche is easier said than done, because as humans we don’t want to be rejected. But niching down is so important for growing your business.
A good way to find a niche is to figure out who your ideal client or audience is. Ask yourself, who is the ideal person you would want to purchase your services or consume your content? Think about their characteristics. If you’ve had several clients in the past, try and find similarities with them.
Even better, ask your potential target audience what they’re looking for and what is important to them. The idea is to ask questions and get to know them better. Not only will this help you narrow down your niche, but when you’re creating content you’ll have an audience you’ll be able to directly speak to.
The other big thing is being OK with attracting and repelling the right people. Once you niche down, you’ll not only start to attract the right audience but also repel anyone that isn’t right for your community. You may lose subscribers or social media followers, but that’s totally fine because you’ll be more effective in attracting and serving the right type of people for your particular business.
Do you have any advice for new business owners who are dealing with imposter syndrome?
Keep a record of all your kind emails from clients and customers, or encouraging social media messages! Marketing guru Jenna Kutcher has a folder in her email filled with people saying nice things. So if she’s had a bad day or if she gets horrible comments, she goes and rereads those words of encouragement.
The more your business grows, the more negative feedback you may get, so it’s important to recognize that not everyone will like what you’re doing and not everyone will be the right fit. But there will be people who genuinely need what you’re offering, so focus on them!
Also, have people that know and love you within the business world, like coaches or friends, help give you a pep talk if you’re feeling down. Many times when we get negative comments, we tend to shut down and don’t feel like speaking to anyone, but those are the times when we should reach out to our loved ones and vent. They’re the ones who can help remind us why what we’re doing is important.
A big topic for entrepreneurs and content creators is building a personal brand. Do you think having a personal brand is important?
I think it is! I’ve found that people want to connect with real people and not just a brand. It’s common to want to hide behind a brand. I did it too, I didn’t actually post pictures of myself on our feed initially because I wanted to remain anonymous.
But I’ve found it holds business owners back when they’re not at least willing to put themselves out there a bit. If you’re trying to attract the right people and they don’t know who you are, only what your brand is, then you lose that trust factor. People tend to trust something if they relate to it, and people are easy to relate to!
How do you recommend being authentic and finding your voice when building a personal brand?
Figure out what is important to you. Start by writing down what you’re passionate about. For me, it’s family, friends and making time for fun things, like going to the lake where I grew up. I’m also passionate about business and my faith is important to me, too. I share a bit about those things on my feed. Not all the things you’re passionate about will resonate with everyone, but when they do, your audience will automatically trust you.
Even if they don’t necessarily relate, they will appreciate that you’re being honest and they’ll love your authenticity. You can pretend, for example, that you love fashion (even when you don’t) for a small amount of time, but eventually it will get exhausting for you. That’s one reason people feel burnout, because they aren’t being authentic and are only showing what they think people want them to show. Share your passions in a way that will help other people!
On the flip side, I do believe you can have a successful business without a personal brand, too. It all depends on who you’re trying to serve. If you don’t really care too much about being relatable, for example if you’re creating a certain type of product-based business, you may not need a personal brand and can do well without one.
In the industry that I’m in, however, it would be really tough to build that community if I didn’t have a personal brand. It just wouldn’t have that relatability and trust factor. It’s also about how your brand is portrayed. If it’s a playful or quirky brand, having that personal brand would be great! It depends on the industry and also the style and theme of the business.
What tips do you have for people who are new to networking and feel a bit intimidated?
I always tell people to take the pressure off. We tend to go to these events with a specific goal to meet five people and give out a certain number of business cards, for example. That pressure definitely makes networking events feel intimidating. Instead, go with the intention of meeting a friend. Here’s a tip: One of the best places to meet people is to hang out by the food and drinks! It’s super easy to break the ice there 😉
Go to an event without expectation and make it a goal to just connect with one or two people. Make sure you exchange information and actually follow up afterwards! Theres no purpose going to these events if you don’t pursue a potential relationship. If you’re just going to learn and have fun, that’s great too, but if you want to be intentional with it, make sure you create connections. It’s as simple as going for coffee with people after the event.
What is your go-to advice for women about to launch a business of their own?
Announce it to your social media or tell someone so you can keep yourself accountable. So often people have these great business ideas, but then just keep putting them off, waiting for the “right time”. Give yourself a launch date and just put it out there! This way, other people will ask questions and keep you accountable. You need community to build your business, you cant do this on your own!
Whats next for Business Babes Collective? What can people look forward to?
I’m excited about the Fall relaunch of our mastermind group. We launched one earlier this year, kind of a VIP group for people that were further along in their businesses. We also launched another one for entrepreneurs who are in the starting phases and are looking for growth. I’m excited for those because it’s a great opportunity to receive more intimate support and bounce your ideas off of other creatives. Also, we took a break from our events over the summer so I’m excited for the Fall events coming up!