How I Started an Online
Mastermind and Coworking Community
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey, I’m Amanda Kerin, a straight-talking Somerset girl living in the French Alps as an expat. I started my business, Creative Women’s Mastermind; an online Mastermind & Coworking Community, because I was feeling lonely and isolated working on my business from home in the mountains.
I needed some like-minded women around me who understood the business journey and that I could really connect with, bounce ideas around, get help and support and move forward again when I got stuck. And I thought I couldn’t be the only one!
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
Due to achieving some major goals in my life, my personal life then went through a big transition. I was moving out of Bristol and into Wales at the same time as I met my now fiance. A Pilot living in the French Alps with a gruelling airline roster meant a long-distance relationship wasn’t an option. I had to get my coaching business online before I was fully established as a coach.
During that time, I didn’t see many people as I had no friends, family or social life in the mountains. It meant that I became very lonely and isolated, and began to lose my confidence. My mental and emotional health were also affected.
I knew I needed contact with other fellow creative humans, ideally speaking English. I started a PT job in a creative agency in Geneva. But I always had a dream to have an online business. I really tapped into what it was that I would have wanted during those long lonely days working as a coach and freelancer from my new home in the mountains.
It was that connection with a like minded community that I was really seeking and I couldn’t find it online myself so I created it! I had joined communities and Facebook groups but for one reason or another, they weren’t hitting the spot and meeting my needs. As I was lacking confidence, I really wanted to talk things through – not type to a stranger, and I needed that to happen online because of my location.
Creative Women’s Mastermind is actually about meeting like minded women in business who are also working from home. Building that relationship through connection is so important in helping and supporting each other. And getting to know each other this way is priceless in cementing those relationships.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
An initial challenge whilst getting started was that I was still working. I knew I needed to validate my idea so I needed to put the time in and it was tough mental capacity wise! I basically had my day job and then came home to work on my business.
Following a successful testing period; I was excited to launch but had to manage that with my job as well, so I took a sabbatical for three months to manage it. After 5 months, they wanted me back so I returned on a 6 month freelance contract and worked on the two again! That was an intense 6 months but it also meant I could also invest in me and the business.
Now the challenges are more around being seen by my target audience and them understanding what a mastermind and coworking session is. Not everybody knows what they are, how they work and more importantly how beneficial they can be. That’s why I provide an initial 14 day trial period for 1$ so they can see what it’s like and if it’s a good fit for them. You can join us here for a 14 day trial.
Who is your target market?
Our target market is women in business age 30+, predominantly in the service industries, who work from home the majority of the time.They’re looking for company and connection in their day whilst trying to build, scale and grow their business online.
They’re dreamers, doers, freelancers, small business owners, solopreneurs and female entrepreneurs. They want to create more time in their day so they can enjoy their life by working efficiently, focusing on getting stuff done and growing their business, without going crazy on their own all day!
We have VA’s, Designers, Copywriters, Coaches, Social Media Managers, and Bloggers, with one thing in common….
They all service clients 1-1 but are looking to build, scale and grow their business online so they’re not trading money for hours in the future.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
I originally started creating my audience by building a free Facebook community, although as more women started to join the membership, it became overwhelming running the two communities. Running a membership shouldn’t be taken lightly – there’s a lot to be done, especially in the early stages where you’re finding your own groove with it.
Now my efforts are largely focused on LinkedIn and Instagram. And the more meaty content is on my podcast (The Creative Steam) or blog. I also make sure my SEO is tip top and a lot of new members have found me through organic google search.
With any strategy and marketing mix, you have to try it for long enough to see if it works but not be afraid to change things and mix it up if you’re not feeling it or it’s not working for you and bringing you results.
Thankfully I have a lot of great testimonials from members and they recommend Creative Women’s Mastermind too so that’s always appreciated. I’m about to start featuring the members on my social networks so they can share their story of why they signed up and why they stay too!
Free Coworking session:
A lot of women who work on their business from home miss that office vibe and laugh with their colleagues, especially those water cooler moments. That’s why I offer them the opportunity to come and try out a coworking session and meet their fellow like minded coworkers.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
I’m fortunate in that the community has bonded really well and are very supportive of each other, on and off the sessions. My USP is that the members get to know each other in the sessions, as opposed to just tapping away on a keyboard and posting in a group. We also have socials too, so it’s not all business, we have fun and get to know each other outside of business too!
If I haven’t seen a member in a session for a week or two, I’ll message them and check to see if they’re ok.
I’m in the community every day myself so I’m involved and in the trenches with the members. We help each other through the lows and celebrate the highs together.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
We’re a team of two; me and a VA at the moment, although my fiance will join us on a voluntary basis soon too!
We work virtually so being at home means we have all the usual comforts, using Asana and Trello for workflows, tasks and communication. We try to keep tasks off email and usually catch up once a month.
A positive can-do attitude and both initiative and trust are essential. It’s important to keep an open mind and be creative too. No idea is a silly one, we’re there to help and support each other. I’m the leader of the business and have a vision. It doesn’t always mean it’s right for the business ! I’m open to ideas and suggestions and there’s always room for improvement!
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
We keep things pretty simple and straightforward where we can!
Tasks and content:
Canva for graphics
Convert Kit for email
SmarterQueue for social scheduling
Zoom for all our calls
We dip in and out of other systems as we need them, i.e. Zapier. I have tried Dashboard as a CRM system which is excellent, but I prefer having things in one system so I’ve reverted back to Asana for pretty much everything! It’s important to understand yourself and the way you work. For me I prefer having less systems to go into!
We use the pomodoro technique for productivity in the membership for our co-working sessions, although we work for longer periods of time.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
One of my mantras is slow and steady wins the race. This is difficult as entrepreneurs because most of us are hares! But your business does not magically bloom overnight so we need to be patient! However, if you get your foundations in place and build on those, and stick to it by being consistent, building your audience and working on your mindset, you’ll start to see results.
Another lesson I’ve learnt is to validate your idea, I think this is such an important step that I see a lot of entrepreneurs miss. We have fantastic ideas in our head, and you can spend a lot of time, effort and energy bringing them to life and then crickets!
You need to test the market and see if there’s an appetite for it. Chances are if you’ve experienced something yourself and couldn’t find it, (as was the case with Creative Women’s Mastermind), it’s likely others will feel the same, BUT, it’s not guaranteed. So it’s super important to test your product/service out first. This will also be your pool of warm leads when you do launch.
Creative Women’s Mastermind has evolved over time so what you start out with will change as you go on, so you need to be fluid and open in your thinking. As long as you have your clients/members at the heart of what you do, your business will grow. Get regular feedback and tweak along the way.
And remember what got you to this point, won’t get you to the next level, so as a leader you have to keep investing to learn and get to the next level up. That can feel really scary sometimes, but it’s necessary to do!
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The best thing about being an entrepreneur is getting paid to do something you love to do and the job satisfaction that brings. Helping people and making a difference to their lives or business in some way gives me the warm and fuzzies!
Everything is your choice. It’s a choice when you want to work and what you want to work on. Being in control of your own schedule gives you that freedom and flexibility to live life on your terms and create your business around that.
I have intentionally built an online business so I can work from anywhere.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The least favourite is probably doing all the things when you first get started. You have to be the IT helpdesk, the designer, the support desk, the marketeer, the copywriter, VA and the task list is endless! Even when you want to crack one task, there’s about another half a dozen behind it that need doing first!
Plus you never really switch off!
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
So many individuals and leaders have inspired and helped me get to this point. One of the more recent books that I’ve read that have really opened my eyes is Why She Buys by Bridget Brennan.
It’s a fascinating read and highly recommended if your target market is women. We are definitely different shoppers and buyers than men!
Another powerful book I’ve read this year is Linked Inbound by Sam Rathling. If you’re focusing on LinkedIn (and you definitely should be!) this is a great book with a lot of strategies.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
Hopefully making an impact on hundreds of women who are working from home and making a difference to their day by bringing a little more fun and connection; so they can grow their business quicker than if they were left to their own devices!
If events come back I would also love to be hosting in person events and speaking at other events around the world. But for now I’ll stick to online events!