Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing (Rene Byrd).
(Singer Songwriter, Ambassador for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund UK, Online Influence Awards Finalist 2020 and Co-Founder of Online Who AM I Talk Show)
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Rene Byrd: I come from humble origins raised and born in London, UK. I have a creative background my family is in the entertainment industry. My father was signed to a major record label, and my father, uncles and cousins were regularly on television either performing or hosting their own television show. The majority of my childhood and early adulthood was listening to live studio sessions or moving and shaking with unassuming creatives who are now very high-profile international celebrities.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Rene Byrd: I can’t take total credit for the idea to create a talk show. One morning whilst in a foyer of a hotel for an international performance my guitarist saw me heavily engaged in conversation and suggested you should consider creating a talk show. He said I was a natural in how I engage with people. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but little did I know years later this would come to fruition. My brother encouraged me to activate this additional path and skill-set due to the slowdown in the music industry and the pause of my music campaign, the Aha moment has paid off.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Rene Byrd: Most of the people in my family are entrepreneurial in nature from running music production companies, start-ups, authors and creatives so this has always been around me. I am an independent singer-songwriter so most of my success has been born from my self-funding and being part of all various methods of generating income. I am always looking for ways to grow and create different income streams.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
Rene Byrd: My journey in music and entertainment was born from being surrounded from a very young age with people in the music industry. It was regular occurrence to see my father and his band on television performing, my uncle had his own television show, another uncle was a BBC producer and produced a well-known series. I guess it was destiny that I am now in the entertainment industry as a performer and now a newly created talk show host called the Who AM I Talk show.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Rene Byrd: I am true believer that your passion leads you to your purpose and when you are able to help, educate and inspire others i.e., provide a service this is purpose fulfilled. At the start of the pandemic, I released my single and was about to push the button on the marketing campaign. Then Covid hit, as you can imagine this was a tough pill to swallow the money, time and resources that goes into launching a campaign had to be put on pause. I realised that I had to shift the focus and mindset and decided at this delicate time to do my best to use my platform for purpose. I sat down with a team member (my brother) and artist Tez-lee and we agreed I just go further and use my platform to help heal inspire and create change. The successful Instagram live talk show called Who AmI Talk was born, this gave viewers the opportunity to enjoy my conversations with experts, brands, Public Figures and celebrities within Beauty, Lifestyle, Entertainment, Fashion and Luxury. I had conversations with people like; Chris Collins ex Ralph Lauren model and now luxury fragrance owner, Patrick Hutchinson activist and author whose humanitarian nature shot him to fame. I was blown away, as my social reach exploded in this season to over 1m engagement as my audience were keen to hear and learn more.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Perseverance, in the world of entertainment it takes years to rise to the top you have to be steadfast and never give up. I have received more rejections than acceptances but that’s the nature of the game not everyone is going to like your offering. I don’t take it personal rather do my best and give my best, most of the biggest entertainers were rejected before their major breakthrough.
- Positive Mindset easier said than done but I strive to always do my best to make positive thinking a habit and you know what they say about a habit! The positive mindset approach is broken down into being optimistic, acceptance and being resilient. I do this to help me when I performing to engage with my audience, whilst songwriting can you imagine if Pharrell Williams was not ‘Happy’ when he created the hit song ‘Happy’ excuse the pun. The Pandemic has got everyone down, lockdowns and restrictions to our normal life. I have made it a point to really keep my vibrations raised to focus on what I do have as opposed to my lacks.
- Curiosity I have a willingness to learn I don’t profess to know everything; every day is an opportunity to grow. I read books by other successful entrepreneurs searching for their nuggets for success and have a great network of people that I can continuously learn from. This lifelong learning attitude keeps me receptive to new ideas and inspirations. The Who AM I Talk show is being amazing for me to learn about others journeys highs and lows and how they overcome them.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Rene Byrd: True story. early in my career I told my team that I wanted to pitch to perform at the Royal Wedding for HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton. I put together a package to send to Kensington Palace, I was told that there is a protocol on how to send things to the Royal Family. Cut a long story short I wanted to send to it directly to the Royals at the Palace but was told that it should be sent another way. I followed the advice and sent the package the other way, fast forward I was invited to a high-profile gala in the heart of London. On my table was the HRH Queens niece, when I introduced myself, she said she knew who I was, I was obviously slightly taken back as we had never meet. She then proceeded to tell me that my music was been played in the Royal quarters and she loved my songs. As you can imagine I was shocked! could it be the Royals have my music, to be honest I just thought maybe the Queen’s niece was just being pleasant. The very next morning whilst recovering from a delicate head I received a letter with a Royal Crest and red seal. I realised then that the Queen’s niece was telling the truth and she did hear my music. The letter was from HRH Prince William thanking me for my music and stating sadly they received the package too late for it to considered. The moral of the story is to always follow your first instinct, if I had sent the package the way I planned maybe we could have been discussing my Royal wedding experience. I have learnt to follow your first instinct it is usually the best.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Rene Byrd: Learn to set measurable priorities and goals it can be overwhelming when you look at your to do list but most of the time things can be spread out and not everything is urgent. Learn to say no! this is not easy to do if you are anything like me and want to add value and help others, but I have learnt the hard way if you cup is empty you will have nothing to give. Schedule R&R time in the diary just like you do for meeting and events and try to stick to it, use this as time to relax, mediate and rejuvenate. Lastly, set boundaries with others and not be so accessible to protect your mental space and wellbeing, when people require things from you, they very rarely care about your wellbeing so it’s important for you to.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Rene Byrd: Be authentic, people buy into people and authenticity which in turn leads them to trust you and the brand or service you offer. Be consistent do what you say which helps build momentum and engagement with your audience. In such a competitive market your audience, buyers, clients, customers have so much choice so you need to leave them knowing they can rely on you to deliver each and every-time.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Rene Byrd: There is so much choice so you want to stand out and be the go-to brand, expert or service that they can rely on. They need to know in the current climate they are in safe hands.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Rene Byrd: The two most common mistakes are their cash flow, costings to make the business a success and the time you will need to put into making the business a success. Let’s talk about the costings what it takes to create and launch a business should be multiplied by 4 and more. To launch a business there are so many factors to consider and the biggest budget of all is in marketing/promotion, we can all have a wonderful brand or service, but the real push is getting this out to the masses. To avoid this is to be realistic about the plan from conception to market and everything in between and map out what you will need to spend and spread this evenly across your business with the biggest part of the budget for marketing and promotion. Let’s talk about the time, when you first launch your business you will be doing everything and unless you have a team you will be doing everything to make the business a success which sadly can caused burn-out. To avoid this, get help ask people closest to you first and once finances permit raised by investors or otherwise build a small team.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Rene Byrd: The Journey of an entrepreneur is like an emotional roller-coaster with many twists and turns, why? You are the driving force behind the business from raising capital, being the face of the brand, selling the brand/or service, hiring and or firing staff, riding the waves of the current pandemic and much more. There are no filters when you are a business owner, you will experience first-hand rejection and success. The difference with working a regular job is employees have to be directed to their destination and/or task rather an entrepreneur with create their own road map.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Rene Byrd: As we discussed I created the Who AM I Talk in the heart of the Pandemic. I was unusually high as even though it was a tough moment in history I was getting wins in the business as I landed some incredible high-profile guests on my new show.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Rene Byrd: I sadly contracted Covid thankfully not serious but it stayed with me for over a month, the lingering cough was tough. As you can imagine I have a business that offers a service a singer and presenter. It took me a long time to hear my voice again as I thought I lost it due to the Covid my chest was very bad that was a scary moment as I felt vulnerable. There was not enough research that detailed the long-term effects of Covid.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Rene Byrd: I am blessed to have amazing family and friends who supported me through my illness, and I maintained the positive mindset to push through. I worked throughout the illness but doctors’ orders I took a week off to rest. I practiced gratitude as I survived Covid when many sadly didn’t, it gave my focus a whole new drive and even more determination to push forward with all I do.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle, ensure you find a healthy lifestyle choice, such as exercise, food which will help fuel your mind and body. Meditation to gear your mind and create peaceful space to relax when needed. On a daily basis I start my day with 15 mins of stillness whether that be mediation or pray this helps to focus my day in a positive and productive way.
Try to adopt a work/life balance this is very hard being an entrepreneur as you are the driver of the business so it’s hard to switch off, but you have to be intentional about work time and free time. I have found that you have to make every effort to switch off to avoid burn-out so make it a routine to have down time
Delegate the workload to your team if you are fortunate to have one or outsource to alternative company to help with particular task. Being an entrepreneur is important but the team you trust, and build can help sustain your vision and goals.
Celebrate wins, it easy to focus on what doesn’t go right but never forget to celebrate your wins small or large they all form part of the journey. In the pandemic I had the unfortunate disappointment as I had to pause my music campaign but on a positive note, I received a win by being shortlisted as a finalist for the online influence awards 2020 out of over 3000k entrants
Learn to pace yourself, it takes time to build and nurture a business, remain passionate but recognise that you are not a machine so don’t work 24 hours and day 7 days a week. Work smarter instead of harder and rest when you can, some of the best ideas come from still moments.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Rene Byrd: Resilience is called the bounce back. Resilience is recognising that yes things are challenging but uncomfortable situations give birth to the most incredible moments in history. The characteristics of resilient people are they keep calm under extreme pressure, they practice self-control which in turn manages their actions and lastly, they are empathic as they aware of others that can help make the right decisions during challenging times.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Rene Byrd: As a woman of colour I faced many occasions of blatant racist rhetoric that I had to navigate. As a young girl being called the ‘N’ word or whether it was been told by a recruiter that we don’t hire black people in the corporate industry. All these things really hurt but I used this to push harder and achieve even more success, these types of experiences along my journey put fire in my belly to break the celling’s rather than to allow the glass to shatter on me. I use my experiences to fuel my goals and desires for the greater good.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Rene Byrd: Depending on what the difficult situation is but I generally try to look at the positive side or balance, for example I was able to maintain myself during the whole pandemic whilst many lost their livelihoods, businesses closed I practice gratitude. I contracted Covid which was a horrible experience, but I survived and recovered for which I am truly humbled and have an opportunity to get better.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Rene Byrd: People buy into people so if the leader projects positivity this has a very positive impact on their clients, a good example is motivational speakers are extremely positive hence their huge following. A leader having a positive impact can help motivate the team to keep going even when the business is in difficult circumstances.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Rene Byrd: You can only become great at that thing you’re willing to sacrifice for Maya Angelou. This quote is so powerful running a business offering a service takes sacrifice, stepping out in faith, working through the night to finish a deadline, a pitch, a proposal, a song and preparing for a show. Throughout my journey I have had to sacrifice a lot to start my business and maintain my busines whether this be personal or professionally.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!