Starting my own social enterprise

Zoe Garshong - ms independent

I remember re-reading my dissertation a month after my graduation. I knew that I could not just leave it there, it had to be more than a paper. My dissertation was about the pay gap and why it still existed in a strong economy like the UK.

One interesting finding that my research showed was that the pay gap starts young. I realised that a lot of company’s were focusing on working with women in the work place, but none were directly trying to tackle the pay gap before women enter work. That is where I knew my idea could come in.

Ms Independent, my business, started off as blog and has now turned into a series of programmes that schools, colleges and Universities can book. We work with women between the ages of 16-25 to develop their leadership skills, confidence and transferable skills.

I would love to say a business is easy, that you see the results you want straight away and that it gets easier. The truth is, it is not easy at all. But if you are passionate about your cause it will be worth it and you will enjoy it.

Zoe Garshong 3

It takes resilience

You have to be resilient; you have to have a strong mind-set. I had my business idea in August 2016, but it took me until December 2016 to launch the first step. This is because I overthought everything! I over imagined all the bad things that could happen. I let my nerves take over and stop me from starting. I had to block the nerves out of my mind and go for it. I thought about all that could happen if this was successful instead of the negative. Things do go wrong (pretty much every week!), even two years in, however that doesn’t mean you should stop or give up, it means find another way and learn from it. Resilience is key.

Focus

When I started my first blog I got a lot of negative comments. People completely disagreed with me. However, I noticed that there actually were a lot of people supporting me and this heavily outweighed the negative comments. Sometimes as humans we focus on the negative and when you focus on it you feed it and it grows, so I had to block it out and focus on the positives and improving. When I started doing this, doors opened. For example, our events programme began. Suddenly my company were asked to do one off events for women who had recently graduated and were no longer in education. So we did. It has helped Ms Independent increase impact, visibility and revenue which is necessary for a company’s survival.

Learn to enjoy each stage

I made myself a rule, to laugh and find humour in every situation when it comes to growing the business, instead of complaining. And to also celebrate every little milestone; such as setting up a business account, officially registering as self-employed, all of these are small victories! If you learn to enjoy these stages, when your first big contracts go through, you will know how to truly be happy. If you don’t enjoy the journey as you go along, and let the big victories feel like big victories, you will always find yourself feeling frustrated. So laugh through the journey.

Overall, I love what I do, I love finishing an event or a programme in a school and seeing that I have inspired someone. It makes all the late nights and the back to back meetings worth it. Two years in, I have completed programmes in Ghana, Spain and across the UK, empowering over 400 young women. And I am just getting started.

Remember, the Employability and Careers Centre can help you make your start up a reality. And take a look at the work Zoe has completed through Ms Independent

Zoe Garshong

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