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Letter to my younger self: you'll be called a little girl with an idea

Dear Georgie,

I know that you feel lost. Your boss has just let you go but don’t lose too much sleep over that. It’s about to spur you on to making the best decision of your life. You ought to thank him really.

At 25, you’re about to start your own production company in Dorset that encompasses your passion for video and animation. You’re excited, everybody is noticing a difference in you – you feel great.

But you’re naive and the realities of running a business will soon hit you. There is so much paperwork that comes with running a business. Paperwork, like VAT returns, that you don’t even know exists yet. Sometimes your dyslexia will get in the way of reading 50-page tender documents. You’ll have to use the dreaded Excel too, at least until you can afford to pay someone else to.

You will sit in meetings and people will ask when your boss is coming. You will be told that you cannot go to a business event because “it’s more for serious businessmen”. You will have a potential client refer to you as a “little girl that has an idea”. Don’t let the fact that you’re a young woman in a male-dominated industry hold you back. If anything, these comments will spur you on to achieve even more.

Georgina (left) at 25. Photograph: Robert Whetton

Don’t be ashamed to be assertive and direct. This doesn’t mean you’re “bossy” or a “battleaxe”, it just shows how driven you are. Isn’t it ironic that men who exhibit these qualities are praised for being “no nonsense go-getters”. Well you are a no nonsense go-getter too, even though you might not believe that just yet.

Your business won’t just skyrocket overnight. You’ll start with the odd freelancer helping you out, until you have grown enough to take on a part-time employee, then a full-time staff member and then another and another. I’ll be honest with you, you will struggle at times. In fact, you’ll struggle a lot.

As the business grows, so will your responsibilities. Having a team with salaries means that you’ll occasionally have to make personal sacrifices to ensure your staff are looked after. Cashflow will be tricky. If the business isn’t paid on an invoice for 60 days, then you aren’t either. So get used to good old beans on toast.

Four years in, your very first employee will leave, running off to London to see if the grass is greener with a big organisation. Running a small business means that every bum on each seat has to be the right bum, and this employee was key to the business. You will cry – a lot – more so than if a boyfriend breaks up with you. A number of those will do so in the early days, complaining that you work too much. Unlike the boyfriends, that first employee comes back after two months, preferring to have more creative input in a small organisation, rather than being a small cog in a big wheel somewhere else.

The roof on the first office – or shoebox– you’re renting will collapse in the rain, soaking your computers and lights. In the next building you rent, the same thing will happen again, and you struggle to exist in a property on the verge of being condemned. Eventually, you will persuade the bank with a 60-page business plan to help you buy and renovate the building. For every evening and weekend for months you will be covered in some kind of dirt and building matter, but you’re able to turn it into a custom-built studio space. You will be so proud about of your own studio.

And the leaking roofs weren’t all bad – they’ll inspire you when Warner Music commissions you to provide a music video where it rains inside. So remember, everything that happens to you, whether its good or bad, will be a learning experience or provide inspiration later on.

Whenever you get stressed about something work related, just remember: you’re not saving lives. Calm down and have a cuppa.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t be frightened to jump in. You’ll get a lot of things wrong at first. But make stuff. Put it out there. Rip it up. Start again but this time do it better. It’s the only way you’ll grow and learn.


Georgina Hurcombe is the founder and managing director of LoveLove Films.

Are you an entrepreneur who would like to write a letter to your younger self? Email us at smallbusinessnetwork@theguardian.com to take part in this series.

Sign up to become a member of the Guardian Small Business Network here for more advice, insight and best practice direct to your inbox.

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