Interview: What I’ve learnt about business with Annie Ridout, Author journalist and course creator
Annie is the author of The Freelance Mum: A flexible career guide for better work–life balance, editor of The Early Hour and freelance journalist for national news and women’s magazines (Guardian, Forbes, Grazia, Red Magazine, Stylist, Metro, Telegraph). Annie also speaks at live events and is a regular guest on BBC radio.
Having seen how many freelancers and business owners struggle with self-promotion, she launched an online course teaching people how to do their own PR (and save loads of money). The first course sold out in two days. Anne went on to launch ‘Becoming your own boss’. That soon sold out too.
Annie and her husband, Richard, now run online courses for freelancers and business owners – and they love it, so much so that Richard quit his job to help her grow the business. Every time they learn a new business skill, it’s turn it into a course because Annie wants other women to have the freedom, flexibility, confidence, high income and joy that she gets from running my own business.
Annie is mum to three kids aged five, three and 10 months. They live in London, in a cluttered and comfortable house.
Hi Annie, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions, I’d love to know more about The Robora…
The Robora is an online business platform. So we operate online, and help people to grow the online side of their business (launching online courses, marketing and selling online, getting more clients, doing your own PR, social media). I launched it so that I could move away from using my own name (and face) in business. Also, with the intention of growing it big and selling it.
How do you think of yourself – entrepreneur, business owner, small business? Are these titles useful? Do these titles limit us?
I always shrink inside when someone refers to me as an ‘entrepreneur’. I have realised it’s partly imposter syndrome, part that it feels like such a loaded term. Almost boastful. So ‘business owner’ feels more comfortable. I don’t say ’small business’ because I have big aspirations, though I’ve only just realised this right now. As to whether the titles are helpful…. Good question. Only in that people often want to know ‘what you do’ and running a lifestyle business is different to running a huge corporation. But I think the focus of the business is what’s most important.
What’s been the biggest success from The Robora so far?
We had a great launch in March, and signed up 15 clients in one go – for our four-month package. So in a week, we had nearly £16,000 in the bank. That meant when lockdown hit, I had my work sorted. It was a huge relief. A few clients panicked and dropped out, but it was all good. It freed me up to write a new online course.
Thinking about the people who’ve seen results in The Robora, what’s the one behaviour that sets them apart?
They are willing to work hard. Have a ‘can do’ attitude. And I’m so pleased you asked this, because I am going to be talking about this a lot when we start marketing our next one-to-one package. There is no ‘easy solution’ or ‘make money quick’ scheme that works. You need to work hard, with guidance. The women who were committed, listened and took responsibility started earning more money, got amazing press opportunities and upped their online game in general.
What’s the biggest fear or mindset issue have they had to overcome?
It varies. Women generally suffer low confidence issues in business. After all, the world is largely ‘run’ by men. So it can feel like there’s no space for us. But there is, and in time, it will be when ruling the world – business and otherwise.
What’s the biggest challenge they’ve overcome?
It’s been different for each of them. For some, it’s confidence. For others, sales. Some had to pivot their businesses during lockdown and I was so proud of how they innovated and made it work (in some cases, even better than before).
What’s the skill they’ve had to use most?
Is confidence a skill?! It’s that. Believing you are capable. That’s what holds us back, and once you believe you can do it – generally, it starts to happen.
Who inspires you?
Oprah Winfrey. Sheryl Sandberg. Michelle Obama. Arianna Huffington.
Who else is building a life and a business they love?
So many of the women around me are doing brilliant things. Penny Wincer has become an author, after years as a photographer. Rebecca Caution is a mindset coach, and I love watching her and her business evolve. Tamu Thomas runs a membership group, that I’m part of, all about JOY. And she is so full of it (joy). I find her hugely inspiring. Suzy Ashworth moved her family of five to Mexico and she posts photos of pinacoladas on the beach, alongside her globe-trotting coaching escapades. Love seeing that!
Click to find out more about Annie and The Robora and follow them on Instagram @annieridout and @therobora