Graduate entrepreneur: Nicky Edwards, founder of A Step At A Time
This article is one of a series of interviews with University of Brighton graduate entrepreneurs. beepurple is the university’s entrepreneurship support service.
Name: Nicola Edwards
Subject studied: Ba (hons) Professional Studies of Learning & Development, EYPS
Year of graduation: 2009
Business name: A Step at a Time & The Adventures of Brian
What is your business?
I work as a therapist integrating hypnotherapy, NLP, coaching, BWRT and OldPain2Go techniques to help children and adults release fears, grief, traumas and unwanted behaviours. I am also the author of a range of children’s books which use therapeutic language to release thoughts, worries and fears. My customers are predominantly women and children and the services focus on supporting individuals to live more enriched and empowered lives.
How did you get the idea?
After completing my degree, I went on to lecture in early years, health and social care and foundation degrees in early years. However, after recovering from an eating disorder in my mid-twenties this led to an interest in nutrition and fitness which led to further training in obesity and eating disorders in children and adults. I realised that my greatest fascination was the processes of the mind and ‘why’ some people will develop behaviours and methods to resolve these. I went on to train as a hypnotherapist and after purchasing my puppy ‘Brian’ he became a muse and I combined my love of therapy and early years to create my therapeutic book collection which in turn supports my daily practice work with children aged 5+.
What makes your business unique?
I am fortunate to be able to combine a good knowledge of child development with my work as a therapist so my therapy sessions are interactive and unique to the children. My background in early years and education gives me a skillset which aids building children’s confidence through being creative and imaginative. My background from my degree means I am comfortable in my work with my young clients and more able to access the inner child of my adult clients to identify the roots of their problems and support them in resolving them. The more my career develops the more I find myself returning to the work I completed in my original degree and EYPS.
How do you market your business?
Most my marketing is word of mouth combined with networking and social media. I also regularly attend school and education events with my books where I develop networks which create referrals for my work.
What has been your biggest business challenge and how have you overcome it?
Building a business is challenging as you have to learn so many skills and build a greater knowledge. Learning how to update websites, integrate blogs alongside keeping accounts and develop marketing systems has been eye opening and some days it can be hard. In the first years of my business I worked more hours that when I used to teach.
Also, the early days of writing my first book were really challenging, having an idea and putting it into practice (then into the world) meant opening myself to learning more skills and creating a brand which was truly unique. I had to seek out appropriate advice, research and set myself goals. I now have a marketing coach to whom I am accountable which really helps to structure my days.
To what do you attribute your business success?
My desire to improve outcomes for young people drives my work and passion has fuelled me to consistently develop and build on my current business. The combination of my therapy work combined with my volunteer work with my dog Brian through Pets as Therapy continually offers insights into the daily needs of children which then inspires my writing. It keeps me at ground level and in touch with my ideal client so my work stays relevant and in line with parental needs.
What are your business plans for the future?
In the immediate future, A Step at a Time (my therapy business) is developing e-courses for those wanting to utilise therapy techniques from home or office. We also have a new support group for families with children and teenagers with eating disorders to gain free support and sign posting.
The Adventures of Brian is venturing into audio books and therapy resources to further develop our brand. Longer term we are developing workshops for nurseries and schools to support the emotional well-being of children.
What one piece of advice would you offer to someone starting up?
Take a chance on yourself! It’s a daunting prospect to set up a business and many people try to put you off, however having a solid idea and a business plan of what you want to achieve and how you plan to go about it is a great starting point to keep you focussed. You need to be willing to accept that sometimes your ideas are not feasible or require changes to meet customer need (which can be heard when you work so hard on projects) but being open to development is the key to evolving your business.
What three skills are the most important for an entrepreneur to develop?
- Determination – You need to want to make your business work and be willing to work at it
- Patience – It does not always happen the way that you want it to or at the speed you wish remain consistent and be patient
- Gratitude – Keep grounded and focus every day on something you are grateful for, whether it’s a few kind words, some praise or a conversation that makes you think
Any tools, resources or books you recommend?
- Trello is a great free online resource for planning your projects, plans and daily tasks to stay consistent and ensure everything is accounted for.
- Canva – a brilliant resource for creating consistency in your marketing and templates for your business
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – S Covey – I read this at the start of my business journey and whilst they are things we know they keep you grounded