June 2018: Chasing my dreams, mid — year summary and success.

 

Chasing my dreams.

I first came to the UK when I was 20 for a one year internship, which was part of my Hotel Management Degree. I didn’t know anyone, hardly spoke any english, worked 12-hour shifts in catering industry and had no idea how my future life would unfold — or even in which country I am going to reside.

Fast forward 10 or so years and I am doing my dream job, running my own successful Brand Agency, employing and mentoring talented students and graduates who are trying to get their foot in the door, people constantly come up to me at networking events saying ‘You’re Lidia from Visuable, right!?’ and I live and work across three countries — UK, Cyprus and Poland.

It all sounds like a fairytale but my life wasn’t an overnight success. It took hard work, drive, passion, dedication, curiosity, sweat and tears to get where I am today. And still, it is very much a work in progress.

If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time
— Steve Jobs

After a few years working in not so perfect jobs, I decided to get back to uni to retrain, change direction and work towards my second bachelor degree, this time in Media and Creative Arts. When graduating in 2011, I was assured that a 1st class honours degree would get me my dream job. Little did I know that finding a job in creative industries was super difficult since all employers required prior work experience. A fulfilling job that I’d be really good at, one that I’d love doing, seemed like a foolish teenage dream, struck down by the harsh reality called life.

Third time lucky is something which only the luckiest can attest to. In my case, it was the sixth
— Lidia

Many internships followed. The Daily Telegraph, Pervasive Media Studio, and my own community radio show are just some of the highlights of this process which lead me to taking up a business start-up course and finally setting up my first photographic company in 2011. Due to the lack of funding, it failed within 6 months when my business partner was forced to settle for a pizza-delivery-job. Times were tough! Friends advised me to also get back to doing “a real job”, but I was determined to keep chasing my dreams.

My internship experiences and a growing network of contacts have finally paid off when I landed my first creative job as a photographer at Clifton Photographic Company, where I quickly became a top performer. One year in, it became clear that this was not the right career path for me and it was time to move on.

So I co-founded a pop-up-studio which sold images via an e-commerce website. We developed a lovable brand, the demand was high and we won 200 clients within 3 months using social media as the only marketing channel. This was by now my third attempt at finding my dream job, but unfortunately I soon realised that this idea didn’t have legs for the long-run.

After dismantling the puzzle and putting it back together again, I re-launched as a wedding photography brand whilst also landing a full time job at a start-up networking company. This job involved crowdfunding my own salary, organising the largest festival of female entrepreneur’s in the UK, rebranding the company with minimal budget, daily socialising with local business owners and telecommuting — as my boss lived in the South of France and only visited Bristol once per month to attend the necessary meetings. I loved it! One year in when the start-up funding dried out, it was my now blossoming wedding business that kept me going (but I knew this still wasn’t the dream job that I was meant to do).

When you loose your keys, they’re usually in your pocket 
— Lidia

…after all this searching for my dream job, it came a day that I finally understood what my passion and purpose were. The answer was right under my nose. It was so obvious. Combining my entrepreneurial thinking with my visual talents to create standout brands for other business owners that helps them progress and succeed is something I am really good at and I really love doing! What’s more, I had all the necessary skills and experience to deliver it as I already successfully launched all those brands to the market.

It was unique, and very me.
In early 2015 the idea for Visuable was born.

If you would like more insight on how I came up with my business idea and why we do things the way we do at Visuable, just jump over to my January journal where I’ve explained this in a little more detail.

 
 Lidia Drzewiecka, Creative Director at Visuable
 

In my first year, I worked with a dozen companies helping them define, create and grow their brands. I was even appointed a CEO of a tech start-up called Aliofly and joined a business accelerator program to help them acquire funding for the flying drone camera they were developing.

Whilst all this might sound cool and exciting (which it certainly was) I was clearly spreading myself too thin. I was exhausted and over-worked. Plus, I was making hardly any money whilst serving “everyone” with “everything”.

Jack of all trades is a master of none

With the arrival of 2016, I quit all part-time and freelance jobs, closed down all my side hustles and gone full time with Visuable. I niched down and focused on only offering my top skills and what I really loved doing most. I created a strong visual brand and started telling my story online. Within 4 months, Visuable took off. Not only taken off, but actually started to fly. Literally, as if it suddenly grew wings, like a legendary unicorn. Finally, I loved my job, I loved my clients, and I loved myself.

I generated so much demand for my services so quickly, that I soon could not keep up with it. I had no systems or processes in place to scale my operations. I had no leadership skills and I was afraid to let go of the creative control over my business. I knew I needed to access support or I’ll never get any time off.

 
 
NW_Entrepreneur_Accelerator_Video_Intro.jpg
 
 

The rapid success of Visuable lead me towards joining the Natwest Entrepreneur Accelerator (previously known as Entrepreneurial Spark) again in early 2017, this time with my own business idea. I was one of the 90 businesses in that intake, one out of 20 who made it to stage two, one out of 3 who made it to stage three and one out of just 2 businesses who made it to stage four — the final stage of the programme. Whilst on the programme, my mentor Olly Reid helped me transform from the in-side out and, as a result, I was able to transform my business for success. I turned my thinking around, stopped being a busy fool, took on a team and started delegating. I worked on developing my signature “Define — Create — Grow” process, my business systems, processes and automation, legal structure, product and pricing strategy, leadership and presentation skills. I met many new friends who now became collaborators and strategic partners. I helped over 30 businesses within the accelerator hub program to transform their brands from bland to brilliant through my process. Once I started delegating work, I was able to offer freelance opportunities to friends who I met along the way. I also trained and mentored 6 student interns to help them realise their passion and purpose, acquire tangible employment skills and be able to land their dream job faster than me post graduation. Some of them never left and continue working for Visuable until today as part time or freelancers.

Fast forward 2.5 years to mid 2018. This month, I’ve been featured in Psychologies Magazine where I talk about my journey and my life today. Here is a snap of the article:

 
 
 Lidia Drzewiecka, Creative Director at Visuable talks about work life balance in Psychologies Magazine
 
 

So what’s the moral lesson of my story?


To all the creative, determined and passionate entrepreneurs out there, here’s my 5 cents of advice:

  • Stop spreading yourself thin.
  • Stop working in your business.
  • Stop accepting work that you don’t want to do.

Instead, define your dream, invest in yourself and start working on your business. Get a mentor. Discover your secret sauce. Create a specialised offer of products/services that fulfil real needs, wants or desires of your ideal clients and are aligned with your top skills. Only work with people who value what you do and who you really love working with. Find your ideal clients and become their “unicorn”. Let go and say no to anything that doesn’t bring you money or make you happy. Keep chasing your dreams. You will get there!
 

Mid — year summary.
 

Since we are midway into 2018, I thought I would write a quick summary of this year’s achievements to date:

  • Taking on and mentoring 4 Erasmus students to help them complete their final uni project through a work — based placement at Visuable, acquire employment skills and figure our what they want to do in life.
  • Running my first Define Your Brand Workshop for an audience of 12 business owners to help them succeed through great branding.
  • Invited to present at the Bristol Bloggers event on “How to grow a brilliant brand”.
  • Progressed through the final stage of Natwest Entrepreneur Accelerator.
  • Worked with 30 awesome business owners to help them transform their existing brands from bland to brilliant or to define, create and launch their new dream business.
  • Collaborated with two agencies to offer one lucky winner a joined £7000 worth of rebrand to help transition them from local to national brand.
  • Developed an awesome FREE tool for business owners: a website scorecard that lets you assess how effective your website is at converting visitors into leads.
  • Spent one month working remotely from Cyprus whilst keeping my business alive and growing, UK team productive and customers happy.
  • Took on 2 new hobbies — horse riding and art lessons both of which I engage in during the months I live in Cyprus.
  • Took several short trips to Europe without taking significant amount of time off : two visits at family home in Poland and Easter in Spain.
  • Turned my sister’s Instagram side hustle into a fully legit business which now generates a healthy profit. Just within 3 months from launching, she was able to quit her not so perfect job that was draining her and pursue her dream job full time (she doesn’t even have time for me anymore as she is too busy with client work).
  • Started a health, fitness & mindset transformation programme with a local health coach who is helping me become the best version of myself yet ( I transitioned into clean eating diet, started weight lifting again and already dropped half a stone — more on that once I finish my 90 days programme).
     

Success.
 

What does success mean to you? Each of us will have a very different answer to this question. To some of us, success means growing a multi million pounds organisation, to others success means breaking free from 9–5, achieving a better work-life balance, building a beautiful home and having more time for family and friends.

I often reflect on what success means to me and I can’t help but arrive at the same answer over and over again: FREEDOM, PASSION, GROWTH.

Freedom to live and work anywhere. Passion for what I do. Personal growth. Check out my March journal where I explain what those things mean to me.