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Baroness Michelle Mone's secrets of success and resilience

Entrepreneur, designer and public speaker Baroness Michelle Mone started life in the East End of Glasgow with few resources, leaving school at 15 with no qualifications. She’s built a career from being bra designer and founder of Ultimo Lingerie to be one of the most well-known entrepreneurs in the UK. Here she shares her secrets of success and resilience with Suzy Walker

by Suzy Walker

PsychologiesWhat are you most proud of achieving?

Michelle Mone: People loving my products which I designed. I think people forget that I am not just entrepreneur, but I'm an inventor and a designer as well. I've invented 17 worldwide inventions – from jewellery to bras!

Psychologies: What is the main mistake entrepreneurial leaders make?

Michelle Mone: You must remember you’re in business to make money. Don't sell yourself down the river with retailers, because they will want everything. They are traders, and they are good at getting the deal they want.  But at the end of the day, you need to make a profit. Also don't go spending all your profits and splashing out on fancy offices. Business can be very up and down, so you have to plan for times of uncertainty. My mum and dad always taught me growing up that I must save money for a rainy day. Thank God for that advice. Because I was able to ride the storms - when the factories didn't make things on time or they made them inferior quality so we couldn't sell them, and you lose a big chunk of turnover because your lead time is 10 months. So, thank goodness I didn't go out there and spend, spend, spend. It's so easy to do. You want better things for your family, a better house, car but don’t go crazy in the early days, even if you are very successful.

Psychologies: What's the best advice your mum and dad have given you?

Michelle Mone: Treat people as you want treated yourself. It would be so easy to walk around with my nose up in the air, but you need to treat everyone with respect. Don't think you're above anyone. My parents also gave me a very strong work ethic. I've been ill with a bug this week, but I turned up to my TV show today to do a live show. I've never had a sick day. I've got this incredible life but I never allow myself to become complacent. To this day, with my wealth and profile, I still don't think I've made it.

Psychologies: Who do you turn to when you need support?

Michelle Mone: My mum and dad, and my future husband, Doug. [Michelle is marrying businessman Doug Barrowman after splitting from her husband in 2011.] During the divorce, I turned to my coach, based in America. It’s good to have a shoulder to cry on and to help you ask the right questions: am I doing the right thing? What shall I do next? Am I stuck in a rut? How do I move on? I'd been married for 21 years so divorce was a hell of a time in my life. But people go through a lot worse.  

Psychologies: What advice would you have for those women who want to come out of adversity stronger versus a victim?

Michelle Mone: You've got to believe that you've only got one life and it's not a dress rehearsal. If you just sit there and do nothing, and allow negativity to fester, you’re only going to spiral downwards. You've got to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get up and fly higher than you've ever flown before. I've done that my whole career when I've fallen down. I don't fall down for long, I get back up.

Psychologies: How do you find strength when you feel you have none?

Michelle Mone: Music has always been my best pick me up.  From recent chart music to rap to Celine Dion and Michael Bublé (who’s actually a friend of mine and very nice man), I use music to inspire and motivate me.

Psychologies: What advice would you give around women who suffer from imposter syndrome?

Michelle Mone: It all comes down to confidence. When I started, no banks would lend me any money and I just kept going and going and going until the I found someone that would, and then the Prince's Trust helped me to start.  You just need to get up in the morning, get yourself prepared, blow dry your hair, put your best face forward. If you start doubting yourself, everyone else around you will doubt you. So, smile and love yourself and know that your product or your service is the best and that your customers need it. If you portray that, then everyone else around you will believe it.

Psychologies: How can you learn to be confident?

Michelle Mone: I used to practice my presentations in front of my family and ask them - what do you think of this product? What do you think of the logo? What do you think about this presentation? It’s about listening to feedback and tweaking your offering or your presentation. That’s why I’m so excited to be launching my two-day entrepreneurial business retreats where I’ll work intensively with a small group of women to make a plan to get their product to market. I’m very blunt. I will say it as it is. I’ll tell you if you’re wasting your time. But if I believe in your product, I’ll support you to launch it. I will also bring in my team of experts – from PR gurus to make-over experts and my own personal coach from America. You’ll also get the chance to build your network of brilliant women – it will be an incredible 2 days.

Michelle Mone is running an exclusive 2-day retreat that will you give you access to one of the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs Michelle Mone and her little black boo. For more details, www.michellemone.com  Michelle will also be speaking at Women in Business Expo, see https://www.wibexpo.co.uk/

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