What I will do differently at Incrediballs. Looking back as former CEO of Ethique.

I made a boatload of mistakes as the CEO of Ethique, and I'm here to tell you about every single one.

I made a boatload of mistakes as the CEO of Ethique, and I'm here to tell you about every single one.

From mixing beauty bars in my kitchen to turning Ethique into a global sensation, I've had my fair share of 'what the hell was I thinking?' moments. And now, as I pivot to launching Incrediballs, aiming to revolutionize the drinks industry with zero plastic, I'm taking those lessons with me into another adventure

As much as I'm proud of what we achieved with Ethique, I'm brutally aware of the bumps along the way. So, I'm peeling back the curtain to share not just the wins but the facepalms too. At the end of the day,success is about learning what to leave behind as much as it's about knowing what to take with you.

Better Leadership

In my Ethique days, I really leaned into being the leader who was more friend than boss. I thought, 'Hey, if everyone likes me, we'll all work better together, right?' But, oh boy, did I have a moment that turned that idea on its head. What it meant in practise is that I often talked more than I should, I trusted more than I should and I got taken advantage of a lot.

There was this one time, we were at a impasse with our sales strategy. I knew in my gut which path we needed to take, but it was definitely going to shake things up and not everyone was going to be happy about it. I hesitated. I wanted to keep the peace, avoid stepping on toes. So, I held back, trying to maintain my 'liked by everyone' status. And guess what? It backfired. We ended up missing out on a huge opportunity because I was too busy trying to be liked instead of leading.

That was a slap-in-the-face moment for me. It made me realize that leadership isn't a popularity contest. It's about making the tough calls, even when they're not going to win you any friends. Which... sucks. It's a tough lesson, but here's what I've learned: it's absolutely okay to be friendly and approachable as a leader, but when push comes to shove, you've got to stand firm, make those hard decisions, and lead with conviction. Your team might not always like it, but they'll respect you for it, and that's what truly matters. I... am not going to find this easy. I am definitely better than I was, but it's going to be a lifelong lesson I think. I've had to learn the hard way that there are people out there who will stab you in the back and climb up the knives.

Backing Myself & Speaking Up

There was a moment early in the Ethique journey that really sticks with me. We were in a board meeting, surrounded by potential investors. These were the kind of people who had seen it all, done it all. And there I was, the least experienced one in the room, feeling like I didn't quite belong. My heart was racing, thoughts were swirling, but I clamped down on my own voice, too scared to speak up even though I knew I had valuable insights to share.

Why? Because I was intimidated. I let the titles and the suits shrink me down. I had this idea in my head that because I was the newbie, my thoughts weren't as worthy. That meeting could have been a turning point for us, but I let the opportunity slip through my fingers because I was too afraid to say what I believed in. It was a gut-wrenching realization that my silence wasn't just about fear; it was about denying my own worth and the value I brought to the table.

That day taught me a hard lesson: the importance of backing myself, especially in the moments filled with doubt. If you're ever feeling out of your depth, remember, you're in that room for a reason. Your ideas, your perspective, they matter. It's not about the years of experience under your belt; it's about the unique insights you bring. So, to anyone wrestling with those feelings of not being enough, let me tell you this: speak up. The world needs to hear what you've got to say. It might feel like climbing a mountain at first, but with each step, you'll prove to yourself that you belong exactly where you are.

Work-Life Balance and Health Prioritization

Entrepreneurship is an all-consuming beast. It's thrilling, addictive, and it can take over your life if you let it. I learned this the hard way. There was a time when I was so wrapped up in the hustle, so determined to push Ethique to new heights, that I completely neglected my health. The stress became a constant companion, and eventually, it started taking a toll on me physically and mentally. I ended up havign some quite serious health issues that haven't totally resolved and it's entirely my own fault. I am not doing that again.

I am going to start treating my health and personal time as non-negotiables, not afterthoughts. It isn't easy, especially with a to-do list that never seemed to end, but I am learning to set boundaries. I have found hobbies I love like diving or spending time with my animals, both which are huge privileges, but I find just as much peace by doing a youtube kickboxing class, or even going for a walk. And not forgetting to eat all day, then being starving at 5pm and snacking as I'm too hungry to cook.

Here's the thing: your business might be your baby, but you can't nurture it if you're not well. So, I urge you, especially if you're just starting out, to prioritize your health and well-being right alongside your business goals. Set those boundaries early and stick to them. Remember, a healthy entrepreneur is a more effective entrepreneur. Your business doesn't just need you; it needs the best version of you. And hustle culture is bullshit.

Networking and Community Building

Never underestimate the power of a good chat and a handshake—or these days, maybe a friendly nod and a virtual coffee. The truth is, the strength of your network can be the lifeline of your business. I learned this firsthand in a way that felt like something out of a movie. Huffpost story.

and suddenly, Ethique was on a global stage. Just like that. It was a turning point, not just for the business, but for me personally. It hammered home the reality that behind every email, every business card, there's a potential game-changer for your business.

So, here's my piece of advice: Get out there. Network. I know, the word makes me shudder too. Those people to whom it comes naturally - I envy you. I also think you're weird AF, but it's such a handy skill.  Build genuine relationships within your industry. Share your story, listen to theirs, and keep those connections alive. You never know which conversation might be the one that changes everything for you. And remember, it's not about collecting contacts and meaningless chatting; it's about building a community that supports and uplifts one another.

Financial Management

Okay my last, potentially biggest failing? Numbers. I know, finance isn't the most exciting part of running a business, but it's kinda crucial. There was a time when I thought I could just wing it with the finances. Okay that's not true. I didn't wing it, so much as genuinely not think about it. Back in the day, with a previous venture my very first real business, I pretty much ignored the IRD. I kept thinking as long as the cash kept coming, we were golden. Big mistake. Huge. It wasn't long before the reality of cash flow—or the lack thereof—hit me like a freight train. The stress of scrambling to sort out taxes and manage finances last minute was a nightmare I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Thankfully, when you finally call them and explain, they are so good to work with, but yeah... don't be me.

That experience was a wake-up call of epic proportions. It made me realize that loving your product isn't enough. You've got to love your numbers too, or at least respect them enough to keep them in check. When I started Ethique, I vowed never to let that happen again. I dove headfirst into understanding the ins and outs of financial planning and management. And well, It paid off. Er literally. I'm far from an expert, but you don't need to be. You need to be able to read some basics, understand the ins and outs and understand what those numbers are telling you.

= Don't shy away from the financial side of your business. Embrace it. Get to know the basics of accounting, cash flow management, and yes, even taxes. And if it's not your cup of tea, find someone who lives and breathes this stuff to help you out. Trust me, having a solid grasp on your finances not only prevents those sleepless nights but also sets you up for long-term success. Honestly - I love finance now. Don't tell anyone I know as it's kind of a running joke that the worst meetings on earth are finance ones... but they tell me so much. And I enjoy it.

Next up, will be all the things I'm going to be doing the same. Because sure, it wasn't smooth sailing. But a lot of things went well too!

Till next time.