My feature on the Great British Entrepreneur Awards (re-blog)
‘Master your mindset’, says Lidia Drzewiecka
Lidia Drzewiecka is director at Visuable, a brand transformation agency that helps companies define their vision and boost business so that entrepreneurs can realise their dreams.
Since launching three years ago, the Visuable touch has enabled over 100 brands to go from bland to brilliant, allowing the companies they represent to grow and taste real success.
The achievements of Visuable were celebrated in Cardiff last year when Lidia was named as a finalist in the Entrepreneurial Spirit category for Wales & the South West at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
We spoke with Lidia recently to discuss her entrepreneurial journey and to learn more of her passion for brand transformation.
What makes your company unique?
Although on the surface it looks like we sell brand design, photography and website packages, in reality we offer much more. We focus on the mindset transformation that our clients undergo during the fun and rewarding journey of self-discovery and brand reinvention that we take them through.
We help our clients see their brand identity as something innate that can be externalized, up-levelled and brought to life, rather than just a set of graphics, colours and fonts. By helping our clients dream big and envision who they could become, and by creating a tangible, visually striking and perfectly aligned translation, we help them step into the business person they aspire to be and live up to their vision. Our clients often mention “Visuable magic” which refers to the effect we have on them.
“Lidia has an amazing ability to visualise a brand. I felt that she was taking my website off the page, helping me to see my brand identity as if it were 3D. The effect this has had on how I now see my brand has been transformational.”
– Rebecca, Blogger
Did you always want to become an entrepreneur?
I did not plan to become an entrepreneur, it just happened. After a few years in the hospitality industry, I decided the sector wasn’t for me. The ‘work, sleep, eat, repeat’ approach to life was not something I wanted. I was existing but not living.
Determined to change my path, I returned to university for a second degree in Media and Creative Arts. When graduating in 2011, I was assured that a 1st Class Degree would secure my dream job. How wrong were they, and how naive was I? With lack of relevant work experience, a fulfilling job that I’d be successful in and one that I’d love doing seemed like a foolish teenage dream struck down by the harsh reality called life.
Many internships followed and eventually I pursued a business start-up course and set up my first photography company in 2011. Due to the lack of funding, it failed within six months, as did the next four businesses that I subsequently set up.
After all this time spent starting and restarting various businesses, it finally hit me and I understood what my passion and purpose were. Combining my entrepreneurial thinking with my creative visual talents was what drove me.
I didn’t love the business ideas that I was creating, but I loved the process of bringing brands to life – this was something I felt I could do every day, for the rest of my life. So, I quit all part-time and freelance jobs, closed down all of my side hustles and went for it. No turning back!
Imagine a business where you get to bring out the best in other businesses and help the world see how amazing they are – that’s what I set out to do with Visuable.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My clients are my source of inspiration. I tune into their needs, wants and desires and develop services that solve their problems. This is what makes my business successful.
When it comes to my creative work, inspiration comes from talking to people and listening to their stories. I have a big passion for entrepreneurship and believe that people buy from people they know, like and trust and from brands whose values and beliefs their share. So I focus on creating brands around my clients’ passions, values and personalities.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far? How did you overcome it and what did the process teach you?
Bootstrapping my company, I started Visuable with no budget at all. In fact, I created a personal brand website as an out-of-the-box form of an online CV. I never managed to get a job out of it, but I started attracting personality brands who wanted me to do the same for them – they wanted a website that authentically showcased the essence of their brand in a contemporary and visual way.
Back then, most websites were soulless and made by geeky developers who had no idea about design or how to portray the essence of person’s identity online. My work stood out as unique and attracted a lot of attention from the local business community.
I remember that back then, I knew I had something very unique and powerful to offer, yet I couldn’t name or adequately describe it. I initially settled for “photographic branding” for lack of a better term, and later referred to it as “brandography”. Today, I call it brand transformation, from the inside, out.
Can you describe a highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
The is no single highlight that I can pin down in my entrepreneurial journey because it’s a work in progress, a story that we write every single day, and it evolves and blossoms in the most amazing and beautiful ways. There are a few things that I love about being an entrepreneur and those are:
Lifestyle Design: I live and work across three countries – the UK, Cyprus and Poland. I get to take my office to the beach and I do what I love every single day.
Personal Growth: When I feel that I’ve mastered a certain level of myself and my business, I upgrade or challenge it more. I like being uncomfortable because it means that I am growing.
Transforming Lives: I help my clients turn into the person they always wanted to be and make their business a success story. This is super fulfilling for me.
Do you have any role models in business?
Mary Portas, the retail transformation expert. I was particularly inspired by how she has rebranded charity shops into must-stop-shops on the high street.
Jasmine Star, who transformed her wedding photography business in California into a global branding consultancy.
Gary Vaynerchuk, the entrepreneurship champion. I’m really inspired by his advice to grow your personal brand and reach through social media and hard work.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I love to lead by example. My team describes me as passionate, inspirational and transformational. I really enjoy working with student interns and recent graduates as they are hard-working and demonstrate a strong appetite for learning and personal growth.
I develop their skills, build up their confidence in customer service, and teach them various trade secrets about how Visuable transforms brands from bland to brilliant. Until now, I’ve mentored and trained eight apprentices. I’m growing my own tribe of new-age brand experts!
What makes a great business team?
Diversity, integrity, collaboration, and a common passion for excellence. My team are so motivated – we’ll often be chatting away in our messaging group on a weekend or during the evening about projects we currently have going on.
What piece of business advice would you give your younger self?
Master your mindset: as entrepreneurs, we have to fail fast, pick ourselves up even faster and keep on going and believing in our cause. Be confident that every decision we make is a good one, even if the results are not a grand success. It’s part of the entrepreneurial journey.
I have had many setbacks during my time as an entrepreneur. What I’ve learned from them is to treat every setback as a valuable lesson and a stepping stone to get myself the next level. The more I failed, the easier it became to pick myself up and start over.
I now feel so much stronger mentally and emotionally and have learned to welcome every situation that I face with a can-do or a will-learn kind of attitude. Mindset is everything.
(This article was first published on greatbritishentrepreneurawards.com)